Legislative report: Let the (political) race begin!

Temperatures have dropped, a hint of fall is finally in the air, kids are back in school, and candidates are raising money and campaigning. Of course, this year school, campaigns, and fundraising are also online, often as not. Nonetheless, a routine is setting in even if not the same one we have previously seen.

Speaking of campaigns, in addition to the Presidential election and a U.S. Senate seat on Colorado’s ballot, there are a host of other candidates as well. Colorado’s seven Congressional seats are up for re-election, along with district attorneys, Colorado Board of Education, and various local offices. At the top of CMA’s “watch list” are the 65 State House seats and 18 State Senate seats on the ballot. Of course, incumbents will try to retain their seats, but on January 13 at least three new faces will be seen in the Senate and twelve new House members will be sworn in as the result of term limits. A complete listing of candidates for the General Election in November can be found on the Secretary of State’s webpage.

In addition to candidates, the November ballot will contain eleven statewide measures to amend the Colorado constitution and statutes. These measures include three referred by the legislature:

  • Proposition EE Taxes on Nicotine Products
  • Amendment B Modify Property Taxes (repeal Gallagher)
  • Amendment C Conduct of Charitable Gaming (bingo and raffles)

The other eight were initiated by petitions and include:

Proposition 113 – Adopt Agreement to Elect U.S. President by National Popular Vote
Proposition 114 – Reintroduction and Management of Gray Wolves
Proposition 115 – Prohibit Abortions After 22 Weeks
Proposition 116 – State Income Tax Rate Reduction
Proposition 117 – Voter Approval for Certain New State Enterprises
Initiative 257 – Voter Approval for Certain New State Enterprises
Initiative 283 – Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program
Amendment 76 – Citizenship Qualification of Voters

Legislative leadership met on September 3 to review and approve the fiscal analysis and information to be included in the Blue Books which will be mailed to active voter households no later than October 2, 2020.

Meanwhile, legislators are preparing for the 2021 General Assembly. We understand that a Tax Study Group is meeting under the auspices of the Governor’s Office to prepare for what will be another fiscally challenging year. Although the quarterly economic forecast will not occur until September 19, the Governor is working on budget matters (his budget must be submitted to the JBC by November 1). The Tax Study Group is reviewing various tax expenditures (credits and exemptions) with an eye toward changes that could result in additional state revenue. At the same time the State Auditor’s Office is completing a review of some of those same credits and exemptions, including several impacting the mining and oil/gas industries.

And the Regulators continue to regulate. CDPHE continues work on the proposed regulation for TENORM statute requirements to be adopted by December 31. It appears that many of the regulation’s details will be handled through guidance documents. The department will hold a virtual stakeholder meeting September 22 from 1:00-4:00 pm to develop that guidance. To join the Zoom conference click here. CMA is working to clarify that waste rock will not be regulated as TENORM.

The Mined Land Reclamation Board is scheduled to meet September 23-24. Agenda for the meeting has not yet been issued.

Both the Air Quality Control Commission and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission continue with rulemaking activities implement SB 19-181 changes for oil and gas permitting. The COGCC has seated its new professional board and will begin on September 3 to address setback regulations. The new board previously focused on changing the COGCC’s mission from fostering oil and gas development to requiring it be regulated in a manner that protects public health and the environment. The AQCC will take up Regulation 7 (various oil/gas emissions including reciprocating internal combustion engines) at a September 17-18 rulemaking.

The AQCC’s work on GHG reduction and decarbonization of Colorado’s broad economy also continues. Various potential strategies under discussion by the GHG Subcommittee are posted on the AQCC website. Written public comments on the documents are being solicited. Strategies being recommended to the subcommittee and public comments submitted to date urge immediate aggressive action to restrict GHG’s, including accelerated closure of coal plants, curtailing all fossil fuel use/emissions, and stopping issuance of new leases and permits. The GHG subcommittee will meet again on September 25 to consider:

  • The spreadsheet of GHG reduction scenarios prepared by CDPHE
  • Western Resource Advocates contingency proposal
  • CPHE’s proposed contingency plans as described in the PowerPoint
  • Any other potential contingency plans not yet discussed

The full AQCC will meet September 17 -18.