23 Calendar Days left until May 6 – 615 bills introduced – 350 House – 265 Senate – 332 Bipartisan – 161 bills postponed indefinitely – 113 signed by the Governor
HB 1348 Urban Redevelopment Fairness Act introduced – the long-awaited House bill addressing concerns with urban renewal and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) was introduced late on Friday. SB 135 which is the Senate version of a bill to address the same issue. It has been sitting on the Senate floor for weeks. It will be interesting to see how or if the bodies can reconcile their differences.
SCR 002 Introduced to Require Two Votes on Citizen Initiated Constitutional Amendments – this referred constitutional amendment introduced by Sen. Roberts (R) Durango and Sen. Pat Steadman (D) Denver would require two-thirds approval in each house if it is to be referred to voters. It proposes that any citizen initiated amendment to the state constitution be approved by voters twice in two consecutive elections. It does not apply to citizen initiated changes to state statutes and would also not apply to the removal of any existing constitutional amendments already approved by voters. Constitutional amendments would be placed on the ballot in even-year elections and if approved by voters, would automatically qualify for a second vote in the next election year. Legislative Council would be required to conduct hearings in each Congressional district on the policy and fiscal/administrative impacts of the proposal. The process to access the ballot remains unchanged by this measure. It has the support of many business and advocacy organizations.
Northern Colorado businesses, community leaders and elected officials propose funding transportation construction using TRANS Bonds (TRANS II) – the proposed $3.5 billion in bonds would accelerate investment in major state-wide infrastructure projects. With declining gas tax revenue, little or no money for transportation from the state general fund and continued uncertainty of federal funding, proponents argue that bonding is the least expensive and most financially efficient means to fund transportation. While not raising taxes, the voters would have to approve the new debt through a ballot initiative in the 2015 election. The financing would utilize 50% of the state’s federal gas tax revenue for a twenty year bonding program to obtain the $3.5 billion in funding. Voters approved a similar measure referred by the legislature in 1999 for $1.7 billion in bonds that were used to accelerate construction of 24 statewide road projects including the I-25 TREX construction. Those bonds will mature in 2017 allowing this proposal to use a similar financing structure. Specific projects will be identified in the legislation and on the ballot measure and will use the existing SB 10-228 funding priority list as the foundation but not exclusive list.
Business Advocacy Groups Raise Concerns with Employer Mandate Legislation – the Denver Business Journal reports that several business groups are concerned about multiple late-session bills that will impact employers. Those issues include minimum wages increases, mandatory overtime pay for employees below a minimum wage threshold, employee access to personnel files and employee funded extended medical leave. Business is also raising concerns on why these proposals were not assigned to the normal committee of reference, the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.
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