Mid-Summer Check In

The bills have been passed and signed into law. The attention now turns to planning for the 2023 Legislative Session and covering state agency regulations to implement laws passed in previous sessions, along with the never-ending campaigns for election and re-election.

On the legislative side, the Legislative Committee on Tax Policy and Task Force held its first meeting June 24 to establish scope and agenda for interim work. The committee will assign research topics to the Task Force for an in-depth look at property tax rates as well as continuing to consider use of Adjusted Gross Income versus Federal Taxable Income as the basis for state income tax structure. The Committee itself will evaluate selected exemptions and credits reviewed by the State Auditor to identify potential bills, including another look at severance tax. The committee is also interested in the impact of the switch from purchases of goods to services and whether services should be taxed. The next scheduled meeting date is July 18.

The newly re-branded Water Resources and Agriculture Review Committee will hold its first meeting August 4, with the second meeting in Steamboat Springs August 24. Agenda items for the Committee’s three meetings are now being compiled. Two of the ten-member committee (Senators Donovan and Sonnenberg) are term limited, leaving Senator Cleave Simpson and Representatives Marc Catlin as the voices of experience in water policy.

On the regulatory front, the newly adopted Hardrock Mining Regulations were published in the Colorado Register July 25, becoming effective July 15. The rulemaking addresses issues related to Temporary Cessation including the definition of “production” as well as implementation of HB 19-1113. That bill prohibited operations that require perpetual water treatment. Water quality reporting and self-bonding repeal are also included in the new rules.

The Air Quality Control Commission used its annual planning retreat June 16 to update and preview its Long-Term Calendar of regulatory action. Listing four major regulatory actions in the coming year, the staff named: rules for a recovered methane protocol to be used by gas utilities; rules to establish building energy performance standards for buildings over 50, 000 square feet; rules revisions to rules on Advanced Clean Trucks and Low NOx omnibus rules; and Greenhouse Gas Management (GEM2) for manufacturers. The first phase of the GEM rulemaking addressed steelmaking, the second will take in all other manufacturing processes. The Commission will also address changes in its Procedural Rules to broaden opportunities for party participation while at the same time streamlining the process to make it easier for community groups to participate. According to Division staff, a previous hearing on the topic “blew up” and the next effort will likely be tackled in two phases.

The June 28 Primary Election provided a preview of the new faces we could see in January. While Incumbents were successful, term limits and redistricting are forcing legislators to either leave the legislature, run for another office, or compete in new districts. Examples are Rep. Janice Rich and Rep. Tony Exum who are now campaigning for Senate seats; Exum will oppose Incumbent Sen. Dennis Hisey. Sen. Kevin Van Winkle already moved from House to Senate when he was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Sen. Chris Holbert. However, Van Winkle must now run for election in November to hold that office, because Holbert’s term concludes in January. In a turn-about from the usual move from House to Senate, redistricting resulted in Sen. Tammy Story running for House District 25 where she will oppose incumbent Rep. Colin Larson. Rep. Ron Hanks will not be returning because he chose to run for the U.S. Senate and was defeated in his primary by businessman Joe O’Dea. On the other hand, state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer who won her primary for the newly created Congressional District 8 can return to the General Assembly if her Congressional quest is unsuccessful because she still has two years remaining of her state Senate term. The General Assembly will convene Monday, January 9, to swear in the Governor and other newly elected state officials prior to commencing legislative work. There will be many new members and staff, so stay tuned for future information regarding CMA’s annual legislative reception and get to know the new folks yourself!