Eye on the Legislature

April 25, 2016

As the legislative session approaches adjournment (scheduled for May 11, 2016), the pace of action on legislation usually speeds up, but a review of the status of bills finds many are languishing and yet to have their first committee hearing. House Bill 16-1403: Titled "The Creation of the Colorado Secure Savings Plan," HB 1403 includes several significant findings as set forth in legislation declaration by the general assembly:

  1. More than thirty-nine million working-age American households do not have retirement assets.
  2. Only one in four women aged sixty-five and older and almost four in ten men aged sixty-five and older receive any income from pensions and retirement savings.

•             Minority households have too little accumulated wealth to tap for retirement, while white households have over seven times as much saved in retirement accounts as Hispanic and African-American households.

•             Coloradans are less prepared for retirement today than in previous decades, and the overwhelming majority of people in the state are concerned about their ability and their children's ability to retire.

•             Older workers are working longer and delaying their retirement. Many of today's seniors rely on their children, who are already struggling to raise their own families, or on other social services that are underfunded.

  1. Colorado's younger workers and minority workers are disproportionately affected.
  2. Colorado's lowest wage workers are also less likely to have access to a workplace retirement savings plan.
  1. The major reason many workers do not participate in retirement savings plan is their employers do not offer them. Experts on retirement recommend that the best way to increase retirement savings is to offer a workplace savings plan to all workers, and enroll them automatically with the right to opt out.
  2. The future of Colorado's economic growth relies on our aging population having sufficient income in retirement so they can afford to live independently and have quality of health care. Our seniors contribute significantly to local economies throughout the state, and their retirement investment spending provides stability to their communities.

• The general assembly further finds and declares that it is therefore in the best interest of the state to establish the Colorado secure saving plan to provide a workplace savings plan for all Colorado workers whose employers do not provide such a plan.

Now, this one will be a "much discussed" piece of legislation no doubt. An employer who offers an alternative retirement savings plan is not required to offer participation in the state plan. Accounts in the state plan are in the form of a Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA), and an account in the plan is automatically established unless an employee opts our of the program – the automatically in clause will probably be a hurdle to overcome. Contribution would be through an automatic deduction from employee wages. Lead Sponsors of House Bill 16-1403: Representatives Brittany Petterson (D-Jefferson) 866-2939, and Janet P. Buckner (D-Arapahoe) 866-2944; and Senators Nancy Todd (D-Arapahoe) 866-3432, and Kerry Donovan (D-Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Lake, Pitkin) 866-4871. House Bill 16-1408: The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (Tobacco MSA) provided that states consented to release participating tobacco manufacturers from health-related claims associated with the us, manufacturing and marketing of tobacco products in exchange for perpetual annual payments from manufacturers.

HB 1408 establishes as new formula for the allocation of the annual payment received by the state as part of the Tobacco MSA, replacing the old hybrid scheme of fixed dollar amounts and capped percentages in multiple tiers with a formula for revenue by percentage shares. Dedicates funding from the Tobacco MSA for certain purposes is eliminated with funding for the following through appropriations from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund in the amounts that the programs are expected to receive under the current law allocation formula:

  1. the Early Literacy Fund in the Department of Education;
  2. the Public Health Services Fund in the Department of Public Health and Environment;
  3. the Offender Mental Health Services Program in the Department of Human Services;
  4. the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program in the Department of Public Health; and
  5. the Children's Mental Health Treatment Program in the Department of Human Services. The annual audit of the Tobacco MSA-funded programs by the Office of the State Auditor will not be transferred to the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.

HB 1408 was passed by the House and Senate and now awaits the Governor's action. Lead Sponsors of House Bill 16-1408: Representative Bob Rankin (R-Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco) 866-2949; and Senator Pat Steadman (D-Arapahoe, Denver) 866-4861. House Bill 16-1430: Oil and gas operators'development plans are the target of HB 1430. Oil and gas operators will be required to "register with both the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and with the local governments in whose jurisdiction the operator has either an approved state drilling permit, or an application for a new well."

HB 1430 allows a local government to request 1) a good-faith estimate of the number of wells the operator intends to drill in the next five years within the local government's jurisdiction; and 2) a map showing the location of existing well sites and production facilities, approved well sites or sites for which an application is pending, and sites the operator has identified for development on its current drilling schedule, but for which it has not yet submitted an application for COGCC approval.

HB 12430 was amended in committee hearing, most significant being to require local governments to register with the COGCC in order to receive information covered in Section (2), 34-60-131 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Sponsors of House Bill 16-1430: Representative Steve Lebsock (D-Adams) 866-2931; and Senator Mary Hodge (R-Douglas) 866-4881.

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.