93 Days left until May 6 – 337 bills introduced – 195 House – 142 Senate – 95 Bipartisan
Personnel Changes Continue
The Governor’s chief lobbyist, Tracee Bentley, is leaving the administration to head up the Colorado Petroleum Council which is affiliated with the American Petroleum Institute. Tracee will be missed by not only the Administration but legislators and lobbyists. She is well respected and liked by all who have worked with her. Tracee starts her new position on March 2.
Rep. Libby Szabo is now Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo as she was sworn in to her new office on Friday. The district vacancy committee met on Saturday and selected former Top Gun instructor Lang Sias to take her place. Sias is well-known in the district having run several unsuccessful campaigns. He will take office later next week. The House Republican Caucus will meet early in the week to elect Szabo’s replacement in leadership as Assistant Minority Leader.
Controversial Bills Introduced
After a slow start, things are heating up with the introduction of two very controversial proposals that will divide cities and counties and retailers and financial institutions.
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) – As you may recall, Governor Hickenlooper vetoed last year’s bill (HB 14-1375) that attempted to find middle ground between cities and counties in the representation and financing of redevelopment projects. Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik (R) Adams County and Sen. Cheri Jahn (D) Jefferson County introduced SB 15-135 this week that contains two of the provisions from last year’s bill that they claim no one objected to: URA board representation by county commissioners and distribution of property tax increment rebates. It is rumored that there is another more restrictive bill that will be introduced in the House and has the support of the Speaker Dickie Lee Hullinghorst. It will be interesting to watch how the respective houses deal with these bills.
Interchange Fees on Credit Card Transactions – an ongoing dispute in Congress and in the Courts has now made its way to the State Capitol. Rep. Jon Becker (R) Ft. Morgan and Rep. Alec Garnett (D) Denver have introduced legislation that would prevent credit card issuers from assessing an interchange fee on the state and local tax portion of a retail transaction. Violations of the proposed restriction would result in civil penalties by the State Attorney General or the local District Attorney.
Interchange fees are charged by banks and credit unions to help offset the cost of card system including administration and operation, fraud protection/data breaches and bad debt. Retailers have long opposed the fees as being excessive and in 2010, successfully lobbied Congress to cap the fee on debit card transactions. The proposed legislation will debate the question of who should pay for the cost of providing card services. Ultimately, the consumers pay for it but will it be through a fee at the point of sale or through increased interest rates or transactions fees by the banks and credit unions? State legislators are being asked to weigh in on that decision.
Up Next Week
After several months of informational and regional meetings, the Oil and Gas Taskforce has two days of meetings next week where it is reported by the Denver Business Journal that they will be discussing more than 100 pages of recommendations. The 21 member taskforce requires two-thirds majority to recommend legislative changes. Governor Hickenlooper sent the taskforce a letter reminding them of his expectations and encouraging them to continue to work towards consensus on as many issues as possible. This will likely be just the beginning of the discussions as many believe that there will be proposed legislation, regulation and ballot initiatives regardless of the taskforces recommendations.
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