Legislative Session – Part 2
The second half of the legislative session kicked off Monday, March 4. The session is limited by the Colorado Constitution to 120 consecutive days, thus with the early start on January 4 the second 60-day period started this week. Consistent with everything we had heard, the really controversial bills will mostly arrive between now and the first week in May. CMA has been working since early in the session on HB 19-1037, a financing mechanism that would incentivize early retirement of coal plants and HB 19-1113 to add new requirements for obtaining hardrock mining permits. Both those bills have passed the House and are on to the Senate. We were able to obtain some relief in HB 19-1113 with an amendment that allows a permit applicant to state a “reasonably foreseeable” date for ending water treatment at a mine. CMA witnesses Stan Dempsey, Jr. and Scott Hardt of Davis, Graham and Stubbs, on behalf of Newmont, continued to push for clarifying amendments in Senate Ag hearing March 7. That body added one minor amendment, but proponents declined CMA’s request to limit the bill’s scope. The bill will next go to the full Senate for consideration.
Perhaps the most controversial bill to date is a comprehensive oil and gas reform bill which upends regulation of that industry. The regulatory commission’s mission and composition are changed, with local governments having the final say over sitting of drill sites and many operational issues. The bill was introduced late March 1 and in a playbook reminiscent of HB 10-1365, the 2010 Clean Air Clean Jobs Act mandating the conversion of 1000 megawatts of coal fired electricity generation to natural gas is already halfway through the first chamber in four working days. Introduced on a Friday, through the first committee at 2:00 am Wednesday morning, second committee on Thursday, it appears the bill could be on the governor’s desk within 10-14 days of its introduction. More than 395 individuals (both for and against) signed up to speak to the committee hearing the bill on Tuesday in a 12 hour hearing.
Next on deck will be a major climate bill sponsored by Speaker of the House KC Becker. Although no one has seen the draft, we understand it will call for an 80% reduction in GHG emissions over the next decade or so. Stay tuned!
Other controversies include a family and medical leave insurance proposal, and potential attacks on TABOR.