Legislative Update: Looking Ahead to the 2022 Legislative Session

CMA continues to meet with our Government Affairs Committee on a bi-weekly basis to discuss issues for the 2022 legislative session. At the top of the list for several months has been the proposal by CDPHE to establish a dredge and fill permit program for Colorado in the aftermath of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals lifting the stay of the 2020 WOTUS rule. While we anticipated the bill would be brought before the Interim Water Resources Review Committee at the Capitol in September, recent developments have disrupted that dynamic. Although there are reportedly twelve topics that may be discussed at the Committee’s September 14 meeting which could result in draft legislation, we have been informed that dredge and fill will NOT be among them. An August 30 decision by the Federal District court for Arizona vacating the 2020 WOTUS rule coupled with EPA reaffirming the pre-2015 Guidance on interpretation of WOTUS led to CDPHE informing an Interim Committee member on September 4 that they would not seek legislation in 2022. While this removes the immediacy of a potential new program, the situation remains fluid.

Meanwhile, the Interim Committee on Tax Policy Oversight continues to review tax expenditures (credits and exemptions in statute) with an eye to adjustment and repeal. Of twenty-one tax policy measures reviewed by the State Auditor’s office, two are of potential interest to the mining industry: Materials Used in Ore Manufacturing and Processing Exemption and Machinery Used in Manufacturing Exemption. The Interim Committee heard the auditor’s staff review of each, but did not make any recommendations; however, September 14 is the deadline to request draft legislation to accomplish any statutory change and public comment will be allowed (according to the committee chair). The task force to advise the Committee will hold five meetings after that time for additional discussion of future recommendations.

Because many CMA members operate on the Western Slope, which is currently in the Third Congressional District, they should take notice of the latest proposal by the Redistricting Commission which would combine six NW Colorado counties (Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Garfield) with Boulder and Larimer counties into the Second Congressional District. The interests of NW Colorado citizens are much different from those of Boulder and Larimer, which will drive comment at the various public meetings scheduled September 7-10. The final maps must be submitted to the Supreme Court by the end of September. The Commission reapportioning Colorado’s legislative districts is also hard at work and will be submitting new maps as well. As always, concerns arise when incumbent legislators are thrown into another district competing with another incumbent, or when the district they currently represent no longer includes their residence. The Commission’s rule prohibits accommodating incumbency concerns. The final maps, as approved by the Supreme Court, will certainly impact the legislative focus of lawmakers in 2022.