Legislature Set to Bang Gavel
The second regular session of the 72nd General Assembly will convene at 10am, Wednesday, January 8. Unlike many previous election years (looking to November 2020), this year does not appear less contentious than 2019 when a slew of controversial bills attacked the oil and gas industry, mandated building code revisions, and proposed a plethora of costly programs. Issues such as paid medical and family leave, cost-shifting of insurance premiums, gun control, and repeal of the death penalty will be back. Also, under the microscope will be cuts to tax credits and exemptions that various industries have enjoyed for decades and built into their operational planning.
The Search for Dollars
The defeat of Proposition CC in November left the Majority Democrats struggling to find funding sources for several ambitious programs, some of which were already adopted and proving more costly than forecast. Among these are free full-day kindergarten, and a reinsurance program which, while relieving premium pressure on some portions of the state, increased overall costs for purchasers in other areas because of reduced tax support from shifting federal dollars. Still on the budgetary wish list is a billion-dollar paid medical and family leave program and a public option health insurance program. These programs, while worthy in intent, cost money that the state does not have available despite the political promises made in 2019. Also, on the expenditure side are measures to further incentivize renewable energy and battery storage. Attempts will be made to curtail various tax credits and exemptions to increase state revenue to fill financial gaps, leaving the question of TABOR impacts unanswered. Certain exemptions and credits for fossil fuel companies will be on the chopping block.
Moving Ahead on Climate
Close on the heels of the 2019 session, the Public Utilities Commission, the Energy Office, and the Air Quality Control Commission are following up with implementation of HB 19-1261, by adopting rules dealing with the Social Cost of Carbon, worker transition requirements for shuttering power plants, exploring building electrification, studying low carbon transportation fuels, and adopting additional emissions regulations. The legislature may reinforce previous efforts by taking additional climate steps such as considering fees on delivery vehicles and incentivizing ride sharing while pushing for electrification of those vehicles. Beneficial electrification will, in fact, be the watchword for a variety of uses and activities traditionally reliant on fossil fuels including natural gas, as the state seeks to become powered by 100% renewable energy.
TENORM Report Released
CDPHE has posted its report to the legislature on development of TENORM regulations. The report details stakeholder meetings over recent months and outlines the framework for a proposed rule to be issued after the first quarter of 2020. TENORM rules will apply to radioactive wastes that are concentrated by human activity at levels of 5 pCi/g above natural background for Radium-226, Radium-228, and each of their progeny individually. The report may be accessed on the CDPHE Hazardous Materials and Waste Management – Radiation Management website.
Civil Penalties May Increase
A proposed bill to increase civil penalties for violating air and water quality regulations would raise the maximum daily penalty per violation to the federal maximum of $47,357 with additional increases set by regulation based on the CPI.
Stay tuned—there will be more news once the legislature gets underway!