2014 Legislative Session Has Begun

The 2014 session of the Colorado General Assembly convened on Jan. 8, however, legislators have been working on their action plans for months before this date. The first deadline for bill titles was Dec. 2, 2013. In fact, of the five bills that each member is allowed to introduce, three of those five must be requested by Dec. 2. In mid-January members must introduce their last two bills.

It’s too early to know if this year’s session will be as acrimonious as last year’s. It is an election year, which inevitably leads to posturing and pontificating. In addition, the Republican Party vows to repeal some of the gun regulations passed last year, which could eclipse other important issues that CAR will follow this year.

So far we know that urban renewal and tax incremental financing will be targeted for revision. Legislators have also announced their intent to introduce legislation related to natural disasters in the wake of the 2013 fires and floods. And, as if the issue hasn’t been the target of enough bills over the course of the last five years, there’s bound to be at least one more foreclosure bill to consider.

In his speech Loveland Representative Brian DelGrosso, the Minority Leader of the House, emphasized his party’s desire to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses:
Rep. DelGrosso’s speech resonated because of its business emphasis.
Other opening day speeches can be accessed using this link: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24870817/text-rep-brian-delgrossos-speech?source=pkg

Another Banner Year for Ballot Initiatives:  The general election is ten months away but several possible ballot measures have already received a lot of attention.

Transportation State Sales Tax – MPACT64 is a collaborative effort from four regional organizations covering all 64 counties in Colorado. The (Denver) Metro Mayors Caucus, Progressive 15, Action 22, and Club 20 began working together on transportation issues in 2005. The group’s goal is to find consensus strategies to increase transportation funding for all of Colorado. MPACT64 continues to grow and add members; the discussion among those participating is currently centered on the viability of a sales tax for transportation. Some of the group’s members are already figuring out how to spend the revenues the tax would provide http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-news/ci_24261317/rtd-new-study-suggests-northwest-rail-will-get?source=email. But it isn’t at all certain the voters will support a sales tax increase.

Fracking – Activists behind some local fracking bans have formed the Colorado Community Rights Network to work on an amendment to the Colorado state constitution that would appear on the ballot in November. Called “the Right to Local Self-Government Act” the measure would guarantee local governments statewide the power to restrict oil and gas drilling and other industrial activities permitted by Colorado law. “The measure would address any type of corporate project that a local community would deem to be a threat,” said one organizer.  In other words, the measure is not restricted to fracking. Threats could also include planting of genetically modified crops, cyanide use in gold mining, dam construction or anything else activists might choose to target.

Another group, called Protect Our Colorado, is working to put a measure on the ballot to ban fracking statewide. In Colorado supporters must gather over 85,000 valid voter signatures to put a measure on the ballot.

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