Legislature ramping up for 2020

As summer winds down, legislators on the various interim committees are requesting draft bills for consideration in January. The Investor Owned Utility Study Committee initially requested three drafts: a bill on consumer protection, a bill directing the PUC to study Consumer Choice Agreements, and a bill on alternative revenue sources for low income energy assistance. These drafts will be finalized and receive final approval at the committee’s October 3 meeting.

The Energy Legislation Interim Committee will request draft bills at its September 13 meeting in Grand Junction. That meeting will hear from various West Slope county commissioners, members of the public, and formal presentations prior to making the bill requests.

The Department of Labor is completing selection of an advisory committee concerning a Just Transition Plan for coal dependent communities who will face plant closures, pursuant to HB 19-1314, The department will oversee a director and advisory committee with a draft transition plan to be presented to the department by July 1, 2020 and to the General Assembly December 31, 2020.

The Tax Expenditures Evaluation Interim Committee is recommending repeal of several credits and exemptions that are, according to the State Auditor, obsolete or not widely used. Still under consideration with no clear committee recommendation is the exemption from sales tax for purchases of energy (electricity and fuel) used entirely in manufacturing, mining and industrial processes. Committee members were greatly confused regarding the implementation and effect of the exemption and requested additional information from the Department of Revenue. CMA testified before the committee in support of retaining the exemption as it has existed for more than 80 years and serves to avoid double taxation on energy input into the finished product. The committee chair requested a bill to establish a Tax Commission for ongoing study of tax policy (thus avoiding a yearly interim committee).  Final action on bill requests will be made at the committee’s October 30 meeting.

 The Auditor’s Office is beginning to review various Enterprise Zone credits which are also used by the business community at large, including mining companies to benefit the local governments and institutions where they operate. The recommendations by the Auditor’s office will then be considered by the Tax Evaluation Committee for potential legislation.

While these are a few of the potential bills we anticipate in January, there will be many more of concern to the mining industry.