Legislative Update: Legislative Dog Days of Summer

We have all heard the expression “dog days” describing scorching summer days that seem to drag on with no end in sight. The Wikipedia explanation tells us that these are “historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius (known colloquially as the “Dog Star”), which Hellenistic astrology connected with heatdrought, sudden thunderstormslethargyfevermad dogs, and bad luck…” That sums it up as far as legislative action, at least what is done in the public eye. Traditionally, legislators and organizations reveal concepts for the next legislative session through presentations and discussions at Interim Committees held at the Capitol and elsewhere around the state. In 2020, due to both COVID-19 and the dire budget situation, no legislative interim committees held. This year, the legislative session did not adjourn until the second week in June (again due to COVID delays), and, despite many committees and Task Forces being established, few have met, and some have not even had members appointed. Hence, no legislative plans revealed to date.

CMA has been actively involved in issues surrounding a proposed “dredge and fill” permit program for Colorado. Since CDOHE first circulated legislation to authorize a program two years ago, CMA has worked with other organizations to urge caution and restraint, in anticipation of federal action. We anticipate that yet another proposal will be recommended to the Water Resources Review Committee, which has finally announced its schedule of meetings. The first meeting is scheduled in Steamboat Springs on August 25 in conjunction with the Colorado Water Congress. The committee will meet again at the Capitol September 14 and October 27. CMA will continue to collaborate with other members of the regulated community to address the issue of “gap waters, those waterbodies defined by statute as “waters of the state” that are not protected by federal law. In the meantime, EPA has started a two-phase process to replace the 2020 Trump Administration Waters of the U.S. rule, first moving back to the 2008 Rapanos Guidance and then formally proposing a new rule more similar (we anticipate) to the 2015 Obama rule.

Other Interim Committees dealing with Wildfire mitigation and Tax Policy (review of State Auditor reports) are also underway. On August 3, the Task Force selection of members to accompany the Tax Policy Committee will be selected from applicants to fill criteria set forth in statute. The Transportation Legislation Review Committee is also getting underway, meeting August 4. Its agenda includes a Joint presentation from the Energy Office and the Dept. of Transportation. We will be closely monitoring to see if an Employee Trip Reduction Program proposed at the legislative level.

During the two months of legislative silence, CMA has engaged in rulemaking activities with state agencies. Now that things are gradually moving again, attention will swing back to legislative planning for what promises to be another eventful session in 2022.