Legislature Hard at Work
We are nearly one-quarter of the way through the legislative session. The open seat for HD 57 to replace Rep. Rankin who moved to the Senate (SD 8) was filled by the vacancy committee on February 5. Perry Will of New Castle, an area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, will fill that vacancy.
During the past 29 days the General Assembly has introduced 277 bills and held committee hearings that extend late into the evening. Although many of the bills have bi-partisan sponsorship (it has been said that minority-only bills are doomed to failure), there are indications that the sounds of “Kumbaya” are rapidly fading and we may be in for a rough ride until May 3. The Governor and majority Democrats have articulated an ambitious (some would say aggressive) agenda that in many cases would re-make Colorado’s image—whether for better or worse depends on the viewer.
Top priority for the Governor is full day free kindergarten. Many school districts are forced to charge for full day kindergarten which is a heavy financial burden for families regardless of income level. Another top priority for the Governor is health care and lowering the cost, particularly for areas where insurance carriers are limited, and premiums are multiple times the cost for the metro area. And, of course, tax reform is also on the agenda. The Governor and legislature are looking for “loopholes” and expenditures (read credits and exemptions) that do “not provide value.” Among these are the fees paid by the state to retail vendors who collect and remit state sales tax. And, two days ago, request was submitted to the Legislative Audit Committee for an audit of severance tax operation, assessment and collection. Other “tax reform” bills in the Governor’s package are still being formulated according to the head of the Office of State Planning and Budget.
CMA has been hard at work on two issues, a hardrock mining bill and a bill that would allow securitization of costs for closing power plants. Both of those bills are in committee for hearing on February 4.