86 Days left until May 6 – 389 bills introduced – 213 House – 176 Senate – 138 Bipartisan – 45 bills postponed indefinitely
Felony DUI Bill Passes Unanimously in First Committee – the push continues for Colorado to establish tougher penalties for multiple DUI offenders. Colorado is one of four states that do not have this law. It has been introduced several times over the past several years. The 2015 version has bi-partisan support in the legislature as well as the Governor. The bill would allow prosecutors to charge DUI drivers with three convictions in seven years and four convictions in a lifetime with a Class 4 felony. Opponents are concerned with the high cost of incarceration and lack of addiction treatment. There was a brief disturbance at the beginning of the hearing when the Committee Chairman announced that the bill was not going to be heard as scheduled. Many citizens had already arrived to testify at the hearing and were not happy with the announcement. After a brief recess, the hearing continued as scheduled.
Data Center Tax Credit Bill Introduced – HB 1158 allows an owner, operator or tenant of a qualified new or refurbished data center a sales tax refund for IT equipment used and maintained in a qualified data center. Incentives apply to new facilities with more than 25,000 sq. ft., and with investment of more than $40 million no earlier than 2011, or on or after January 1, 2016. Incentives also apply to refurbished facilities with 25,000 sq. ft. or more, and invested 20 million investment or more no earlier than January 2, 2014, or on or after January 1, 2016. The bill was introduced late in the 2014 session and died in the Senate. Stakeholders met over the summer to address last year’s concerns and modified the bill accordingly. More than 18 organizations have signed on in support of the bill.
Workforce Development is the Common Theme for Both Houses and Parties – several bills have been introduced with many more likely. The construction and energy sectors are expecting significant shortfalls in qualified labor over the next several years. SB 82 would allow counties to use a property tax credit or rebate to fund local workforce development efforts for educational and technical training. It was passed by the Senate and is on the way to the House. HB 1170 is an attempt to fill these jobs with skilled workers through career and technical education programs, community colleges and four-year institutions. It is scheduled for hearing later this month.
Construction Defects Legislation to be Introduced Next Week – the Denver Business Journal reported that legislation will be introduced next week to address concerns with the frequency and size of defects awards. The bipartisan bill will require alternative dispute resolution (mediation and arbitration); disclosure of the potential impacts of a defects on an owner’s property; and informed consent by the owners prior to litigation being filed. Supporters believe that this still protect consumers rights and will expedite the resolution of claims. Opponents claim that this could prevent individual homeowners from getting their claims resolved, that a jury trial is fairer to homeowners than arbitration and there is little or no cost savings by using ADR.
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