A Colorado coal tax increase introduced – miners push back

More than thirty miners representing four of Colorado’s coal mines testified at the State Capitol against Senate Bill 168 which repeals critical severance tax exemption and credits. The bill creates a “refund mechanism” allowing new severance tax receipts generated from higher coal severance taxes to offset the loss of revenue a state property tax exemption supporting solar energy.

Senators Chris Hansen (D-Denver) and Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) stated their intention to require Colorado coal producers to pay “their full severance tax liability.” Colorado’s Constitutional provision known as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires voters to approve the adjustment or repeal of existing credit or exemptions that results in new tax revenue must be approved by voters. Thus, CMA asserts the repeal of these coal severance tax provisions violate the Colorado Constitution unless approved by the voters.

Senator Hansen’s efforts to repeal existing severance tax credits and exemptions is viewed by CMA as the next battle in the “War on Coal” being waged by many Colorado legislators on a bi-partisan basis since 2010.

Miners testified both in Denver and at remote locations in Grand Junction and Steamboat Springs, offering factual and heartfelt testimony about the way mining benefits the State of Colorado and local communities.

The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee passed the bill despite the excellent testimony offered by CMA member mines. CMA wants to specifically thank Pat Sollars of TwentyMile for bringing more than 25 miners to testify, as well as Weston Norris of West Elk, and Gina Nance representing GCC. We are also grateful for testimony presented by the Colorado Competitive Council, Colorado Chamber and Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.

Despite the bill passing we appreciate Senator Brittany Pettersen taking time to visit with miners who testified following the hearing.

Thank you to the CMA members who have contacted legislators expressing opposition to Senate Bill 168. We will continue to keep CMA’s membership informed on the bill and our efforts to defeat it.