Eye on the Legislature

May 1, 2017

   Adjournment day for the General Assembly is fast approaching – May 10  – so those readers wishing to offer input to legislators have little time to do so.

Senate Bill 17-202: The legislative declaration for SB 202 provides information about the species conservation trust fund as set forth in the Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 24-33-111(2) and -111(3). The fund was created in the state treasury to “fund programs designed to conserve native species that have been listed as threatened or endangered under state or federal law or that are candidate species or are likely to become candidate species as determined by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.”

The Species Conservation Trust Fund (SCTF), created in 1998, helped to protect and recover threatened and endangered species. Since its initial creation, the General Assembly expanded the SCTF to cover studies and programs within Colorado Parks and Wildlife dedicated to “recovering species listed as threatened and endangered under state law, recovering and protecting federal candidate species, conducting scientific studies related to the listing or delisting of any species and evaluating genetic, habitat and declining species baseline data.”

The fund also has a Tier 2 program which includes water-related programs, agriculture-related programs, energy efficiency, soil conservation, the control of invasive species, low-income energy assistance and the Species Conservation Trust Fund which are contingent on fund availability for the primary purposes of the fund. In Fiscal Year 2016-17, Tier 2 programs were not funded, but expenditures for the Species Conservation Trust Fund were made from its fund balance.

For those interested in specific expenditures authorized to be made from the Species Conservation Fund include the following activities, programs and species:

  1. Native terrestrial wildlife conservation    $  732,850
  2. Native aquatic wildlife conservation        $1,192,150
  3. Platte river recovery implementation       $  875,000
  4. Upper Colorado River recovery                $  950,000
  5. Gunnison River Basis selenium manage- 

       ment plan                                            $  100,000

TOTAL                                                                $3,850,000

Sponsors of Senate Bill 202:  Senator Don Coram, (R-Archuleta, Dolores, LaPlata, Montezuma; and Representative Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo) 866-2968.

Senate Bill 17-267: The title of SB 267, “Concerning the Sustainability of Rural Colorado,” may be a bit misleading. The legislative declaration of SB 267 sets forth what the General Assembly deems is the necessity  for SB 267:  “Due to insufficient funds, necessary high-priority state highway projects and state capital construction projects, including projects at state institutions of higher education, in all areas of the state have been delayed, and the state has also delayed critical controlled maintenance and upkeep of state capital assets. . .”

SB 267is a very complicated piece of legislation with six principal components, which may in and of itself be its downfall. Here are the six:

  1. repeals the existing Hospital Provider Fee, creates the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise (enterprise) to administer a similar new fee, and makes an adjustment to reduce the state TABOR limit (Referendum cap) (Note: Fee revenue collected by the enterprise is not subject to the state’s TABOR limit);
  2. beginning in Fiscal Year 2018-19 authorizes the state to execute lease-purchase agreements on existing facilities and credits the proceeds of such agreements to fund transportation, capital construction and controlled maintenance projects; (Note:  proceeds are exempt from the TABOR limit as a property sale, and leases must be renewed by annual appropriation so as not to constitute multi-year debt requiring voter approval under subsection (4) of TABOR; interest earned by participants in agreements are exempt from the state income tax).
  3. repeals the current General Fund transfers to the Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF) under Senate Bill 17-262 and instead transfers this money to the State Public School Fund for allocation to rural and small rural school districts;
  4. requires executive departments to submit Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget requests to the Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) that are 2 percent lower than the amounts they receive for Fiscal Year 2017-18;
  5. allows health care providers that are not enrolled in Medicaid to bill Medicaid patients for health care services, provided that the provider and patient enter into a written contract; and
  6. conditional on enactment of the federal Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act (ACE Kids Act), requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to seek federal waivers necessary to fund an enhanced pediatric health home for children with complex medical conditions.

   SB 267 was introduced on March 27th and is yet to have its first committee hearing.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 267:  Senators Jerry Sonnnenberg (R-Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld, Yuma) 866-6360, and Lucia Guzman (D-Denver) 866-4862; and Representatives K.C. Becker (D-Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson) 866-2578, and Jon Becker (R- Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Yuma) 866-3707.

Senate Bill 17-283:  The clarification of discrimination and the right to disagree are the subject matter of SB 283. SB 283 states that “it is not a discriminatory practice for an owner of a place of public accommodation to decline to provide, goods, services, facilities or other accommodation to an individual group, or event that represents a message with which the owner disagree.”

The legislative declaration makes several points on the premise of SB 283 and the need for it:

  1. There is a profound distinction between discrimination and the fundamental right to disagree. The right to disagree is the core unifying principle of the unalienable rights of conscience enumerated in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution;
  2. The current language of the commonly called “Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act” does not give reasonable notice to businesses as to what specific business decisions constitute unlawful discrimination; and
  3. Colorado small business owners can be, and are being penalized for good faith business decisions.

   The bill includes this provision:  Many Coloradans believe that a business has the fundamental right to decline to contract to provide goods or services under either of the two premises:

  1. “When providing such goods or services conveys a message that the business would rather not be associated with, chooses not to associate itself with, or with which the business owner disagrees,” or
  2. “For an event that, at its core, conveys a message that the business would rather not be associated with, chooses not to associate itself with, or with which the business owner disagrees.”

Look for lively debate on this one, especially this late in the legislative session. One has to ask, is this a show force after a local baker refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, especially with the vast number of such bakers in the Denver Metropolitan area?

Lead Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-283:  Senator Kevin Lundberg (R-Larimer) 866-4853. No sponsor as yet in the House of Representatives.

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