Eye on the Legislature

May 9, 2016

The Wrap Up for this year's session WILL begin next week.  Here are a couple of "stragglers" worthy of knowing about. House Bill 16-1441: After being passed by the full House with a vote of 33 in favor, 32 against, HB 1441 went to a Senate Committee of Reference and was promptly postponed indefinitely.

HB 1441 would have required the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to consider  two costs of greenhouse gas emissions when considering a utility's proposal for electric resource planning: 1) the likelihood of new environmental regulations concerning greenhouse gas emissions; and 2) the present and future costs associated with the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane based on the cost of carbon.

From the fiscal impact analysis, this information on "National and Regional Carbon Markets:" "Carbon markets are established through emissions credit trading programs, where emissions credits are bought and sold at a market price. Currently, there are no national emissions trading programs, although the EPA's Clean Power Program (CPP) rules provide extensive guidance to states for the development and use of emissions trading programs. Implementation of the CPP rules were halted by a stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on February 9th, 2016, pending resolution to legal challenges."

No doubt a similar bill will be up for consideration in the 2017 legislative session. House Bill 16-1444: The purpose of HB 1444 is to modify the definition of "Qualifying Disabled Veteran" for the Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption – expands the definition to include veterans with a full medical retirement.

As further explanation, HB 1444 aligns the statutory definition with the language established in Section

3.5 Article X of the Colorado Constitution. That language states:  "Qualifying disabled veteran" means an individual who has served on active duty in the United States armed forces, including members of the Colorado National Guard who has been ordered into the active military service of the United States, has been separated therefrom under honorable conditions, and has established a service-connected disability that has been rated by the Federal department of veterans affairs (VA) as a one hundred percent permanent disability through disability retirement benefits pursuant to a law or regulation administered by the department, the United States Department of Homeland Security, or the Department of the Army, Navy or Air Force."

A permanent 100 percent military medical retirement is a separate classification than the 100 percent disability from the VA. To receive the Disabled Veterans Property Exemption as provided in the state constitution, the homeowner must have a service-connected disability rated at 100 percent by the Veterans Administration. Said exemption  exempts one half of the first $200,000.00 of residential property owned by a disabled veteran from property taxes.

Further clarification of the definition is that service-connected disabilities are those resulting from an injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during military service.

HB 1444 was passed unanimously by the full house on May 6th, and at this writing, awaits Senate action. Lead Sponsors of House Bill 16-1444:  Representatives Su Ryden (D-Arapahoe) 866-2942, and Terri Carver (R-El Paso) 866-2191; and Senators John Kafalas (D-Larimer) 866-4841, and Leroy M. Garcia (D- Pueblo) 866­4878.

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

Doris Beaver's EYE ON THE LEGISLATURE March 28, 2016

This week brought news of Governor John Hickenlooper's announcement for replacement of Lt. Governor Joe Garcia. Coincidental, or perhaps not so coincidental was Hickenlooper's announcement that, if the Democrats win the November election, he'll be available for a cabinet position, that is if asked.

Readers should recall that during Hickenloooper's reelection campaign, he was adamant that he would not be forsaking Colorado to run for the Presidency in 2016, said unequivocally he would serve out the full four years as Governor, if re-elected. Yet, here we are a little more than two years later, the Governor hits the state with such an announcement, just to let us know Colorado will be saddled yet again with an elected official we did not have the opportunity to vote on if he is extended a job offer by a new Democratic President.

The Governor's nominee (still to be confirmed) promptly announced she would not be running for Governor, but a day or so later, changed her mind it appears, to leave the door open.

And politicians wonder why they enjoy so little credibility with voters! House Bill 16-1224: Titled "Concerning Child Abuse Involving Human Trafficking of Minors," this bill "adds human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude or commercial sexual exploitation of a child to the definition of 'abuse' or 'child abuse or neglect' for dependence and neglect cases."

HB 1224 also requires county departments of human or social services, when necessary and appropriate, to offer services immediately to any child reported to be a victim of sexual trafficking or sexual exploitation and allows county departments to file a petition in juvenile court on behalf of the child.

An additional requirement of the bill is that the Department of Human Services and county departments to implement a uniform screening tool for identifying children who are victims, or are at risk of becoming victims, or sexual trafficking or sexual exploitation.

After amendment, the most significant being on page 2 of the bill:  "'Commercial sexual exploitation of children' involves crimes of a sexual nature committed against juvenile victims for financial or other economic reasons.", the bill was referred to the Committee of the Whole with favorable recommendation. Sponsors of House Bill 16-1224: Representative Paul Lundeen, (R-El Paso) 866-2924. No sponsors as yet in the Senate.  House Bill 16-1307: If passed and enacted, the penalty for certain actions related to the interference with staff, faculty, or student of educational institutions will become a class 6 felony when the threat is for serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon or death and the victim is a student, official, employee or guest of an institution of higher education. Under current law, such a threat was a class 1 misdemeanor. Sponsors of House Bill 16-1307: Representative Jovan Melton (D-Arapahoe) 866-2919; and Senator John Cooke (R-Weld) 866-4451. House Bill 16-1340: This one is another that's a really bad idea for the citizens of a county. "Under current law, if a county or regional planning commission has adopted a master plan for all or part of the county or region, then any authorization for or construction of public spaces or buildings in an unincorporated territory of the county, including roads, parks and public utilities, must be approved by the planning commission."

HB 1340 specifies that a planning commission does not need to review a proposed project that is permitted under existing zoning laws or is contemplated by a plan, including the county's master plan, a proposal or an application that has already been approved by a planning commission.

If passed and enacted, the notification process for such would be denied those residents and businesses in proximity to such construction. Sponsors of House Bill 16-1340: Representative Max Tyler (D-Jefferson) 866-1340; and Senator Ray Scott (R-Mesa) 866-3077. Senate Bill 16-157:  It is always refreshing to see Colorado take on the federal government. The legislative declaration states that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has adopted rules under Section 111(d) of the Federal Act that direct states to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fuel-fired electric generating units.

In February of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fuel-fired electric generating units under the Clean Air Act, based on a finding that irreparable harm would result if a stay was not granted.

Further, the declaration declares that because implementing the EPA's rules could affect the cost, reliability, and future improvement of electric service within the state of Colorado, the process of developing a state plan to implement the EPA's rules will be complex and resource-consuming.

SB 157 "requires the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) and the Division of Administration in Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to suspend work on the Clean Power Plan and state implementation plan until the stay is lifted. The bill also requires that the state implementation plan be subject to legislative review."

SB 157 was passed on the merits without amendment by the Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy and referred to the Committee of the Whole with favorable recommendation. Sponsors of Senate Bill 16-157:  Senators John Cooke (R-Weld) 866-6360, and Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld, Yuma) 866­6360; and Representative Timothy Dore (R-Baca, Bent, Crowley, Elbert, Kiowa, Las Animas, Lincoln, Prowers, Washington) 866-2398. House Bill 16-1315: It is always nice to have a light-hearted bill to close out the column. HB 1315 concerns "An Authorization for Seaplanes to Operate Where Motorboats May Be Operated." Yes, you read it right, here in arid Colorado, the bill applies to the operation of seaplanes.

No legislative declaration on this one, but the fiscal impact statement states the bill "includes seaplanes within the statutory definition of a 'vessel' and prohibits the Parks and Wildlife Commission, municipalities and special district from arbitrarily excluding seaplanes from state park waters that are open to the operation of motorboats."

Also provided in HB 1315 is an exemption for seaplanes which are to be registered and numbered pursuant to federal law, from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife boat registration program in the Department of Natural Resources. 

HB 1315 corrects a prohibition in current state regulations of aircraft landing on or taking off from any lands or waters managed by the CPW. So with much ado, HB 1315, if passed and enacted, would mean a seaplane can be operated anywhere a motor boat can be operated.

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