Eye on the Legislature

May 15, 2017

As in previous years, upon adjournment of the legislative session, Eye on the Legislature “Wrap Up” begins with a run-down of what happened to each bill written about during the session.

First, there were two late introductions – House Bills 17-1362 and 17-1364 which were promptly postponed indefinitely (killed), no doubt to be introduced again in the 2018 session.

House Bill 17-1362, titled “A Plan for Addressing Statewide Infrastructure Needs,” includes a legislative declaration which has become steady rhetoric from many down under the Golden Dome. Everyone seems to understand and acknowledges the dire shape of Colorado’s infrastructure, but seems not a soul in those hallowed halls has a clue as to solving the problem, except to say we need more money.

Significant from the legislative declaration of HB 1362: 

  1. It is critical to construct, improve, and maintain infrastructure throughout the state in order to meet the demands created by both current and future statewide economic expansion and population growth;
  2. Sufficient, sustainable, steady, and dedicated funding streams are needed to fund the critical infrastructure construction, improvement, and maintenance that will meet both current and future demands;
  3. current sources of dedicated transportation funding are not generating enough revenue to fund current and future transportation infrastructure needs throughout the state; and
  4. current sources of capital construction funding are not generating enough revenue to fund all of the state’s current controlled maintenance needs, much less to fund any new capital construction needed for programmatic expansion in the state.

   For the reader’s information “Colorado last increased the rates of the taxes on gasoline and special fuel, the largest source of dedicated transportation funding, in the early 1990s, and these taxes do not increase with inflation.”

Also pointed out is that “the declining purchasing power of the revenue generated by these taxes has prevented the state’s transportation budget from keeping pace with the growing transportation infrastructure needs throughout the state.” 

Perhaps a blunter analysis is, “Can you as a citizen pay the cost of living today in 2017 on the salary you were paid in the early 1990’s?”

The more appropriate point is that this same issue arises each legislative session, and every session, legislators kick it down the road to the next session as though that is a way of dealing with it.

For a real eye opener, research on the web the dire shape of bridges in Colorado. That alone will “knock your socks off!”

House Bill 13-1364, titled “The Authority of a Local Government Master Plan to Include Policies to Implement State Water Plan Goals as a Condition of Development Approvals,” was also postponed indefinitely on May 1st, a mere four days after introduction. It was yet another piece of legislation with “may” verbiage, that is it says a master plan “may” include . . .  that of course means a county or region must have officials willing to require that a developer must include the general location and extent of an adequate and suitable supply of water as a condition of development approvals. Look for this one to also re-appear next session, hopefully early in the 2018 session.

And now to the actions taken on bills written about in Eye on the Legislature for 2017.

   House Bill 17-1014:   Signed by Governor Hickenlooper on March 16th, HB 014 changes Colorado law to allow a voter to disclose the contents of his or her completed ballot by showing it to another person or by making an image available through electronic means (social media), authorizes municipal and county clerks to place reasonable restrictions on the use of photographs or other activities at a polling place or other locations in which votes are tabulated and makes the trading of a vote or offering to trade a vote a misdemeanor and clarified that it is a misdemeanor to take a picture of another person’s completed ballot.

House Bill 17-1041:   Signed by the Governor on March 20th, HB 1041 requires that local education provide all students and parents or legal guardians of students enrolled in the local education system with notice “at least twice during each school year of the opportunity for concurrent enrollment by qualified students in post-secondary courses including academic courses and career and technical education courses which may include course work related to apprenticeship programs and internship programs.”

House Bill 17-1029:  Signed by the Governor on February 3rd, HB 1029 will allow a state entity to deny requests under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) for records that contain confidential personal information. CORA creates a presumption in favor of public access to government documents. The term “confidential personal information” includes a person’s home address, phone number, social security number, birth date, bank account information, tax identification number, personal signature, personal email address or similarly unique information.”

As a reminder, Colorado Revised Statues identifies public records as all writings made, maintained or kept by the state, any agency, institution, political subdivision of the state, local government-financed entity, or nonprofit corporation incorporated by a state, supported higher education or institution’s governing board,” but readers are reminded, CORA “does not apply to the Judicial Branch.”

Senate Bill 17-016:  Signed by the Governor on April 4th, SB 016 amends current law to allow counties to make “the use of child protection teams optional for all counties, regardless of the number of referrals received by the county.” Current law required that counties receiving more than 50 referrals relating to child abuse or neglect had to form a child protection team to publicly review the assessment made by the child welfare staff. Child protection protection teams are made up of community volunteers and coordinated by the county director of human services or his or her designee.

House Bill 17-1038:  Postponed indefinitely (killed) on March 14th, HB 1038 would have expanded the prohibition of corporal punishment of children to include a person employed by or volunteering in a public school or certain child care facilities licensed by the Department of Human Services, including state-licensed child care centers, family care homes or specialized group facilities. “Corporal punishment” is defined as the “willful infliction of, or willfully causing the infliction of, physical pain on a child.”

Senate Bill 008:  Signed on March 23rd, SB 008 eliminates a gravity knife or switchblade knife from the definition of “illegal weapon.” However, carriers of such a knife should beware of how regulations and laws differ amongst the state of the United States – while not illegal to possess, if such a knife is used in a criminal act, it may result in different criminal charges or increased penalties.

Senate Bill 010: Postponed on February 2nd, SB 010 would have revised adjudication under the habitual criminal statute for offenses committed in Colorado. Under current law, enhanced sentencing is imposed when a person is adjudicated as an habitual criminal if a person is convicted of a class 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 felony or a level 1, 2 or 3 drug felony and has two previous, separate felony convictions within the last ten years; or he or she is convicted of any felony and has three previous, separate felony convictions. SB 010 would have meant no offender convicted of a class 4 or 5 felony, unless it is a crime of violence, a class 6 felony, or a level 2 or 3 felony, will be adjudicated as an habitual criminal.

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