Weekly Legislative Update, March 6, 2015

58 Days left until May 6 – 479 bills introduced – 275 House – 204 Senate – 190 Bipartisan – 97 bills postponed indefinitely

We have reached the halfway mark for the session.  Many significant issues remain unresolved: 2015-16 budget, school finance, oil/gas regulation, construction defects/affordable housing, urban renewal/tax increment financing, K-12 education standards/assessments/data privacy, workforce development, TABOR spending caps/refunds and ballot reform.  Almost 380 bills are still working their way through the system.

Update – Workforce Development – more bills and a press conference highlighted this week for workforce development.  I don’t recall an issue that generated this many pieces of legislation in one session.  It’s also remarkable that most of them are bi-partisan and supported by industry, labor and education/technical providers.  Here is the list so far:

  1. HB 1170 Post-Secondary and Workforce Readiness Coordinator
  2. HB 1227 Income Tax Credit for Employers who help with Student Loans
  3. HB 1230 Innovative Industries Internships
  4. HB 1231 Enhanced Unemployment Insurance
  5. HB 1270 Pathways in Technology
  6. HB 1271 Mobile Learning Labs
  7. HB 1274 Career Pathways
  8. HB 1275 Career and Technical Education and Concurrent Enrollment
  9. HB TBD Grant Program for Skilled Worker Training Programs
  10. SB 82 Property Tax Rebate for County Workforce Development Programs

Update – Interchange Fees on State and Local Taxes – under significant pressure from banks, credit unions and card processors; supporters (retailers) and their sponsors amended HB 1154 to require an interim study of the issue.  However, the study also had heavy opposition with claims that it was bias toward the retailer’s position and included issues way beyond the scope of interchange fees.  The final blow came when the state agencies charged with conducting the study testified that they didn’t have the expertise, access to information or time to complete such a study before the legislated deadline of October 15, 2015.  The House Finance Committee killed the bill on a vote of 9-2.

Update – Tax Increment Financing – SB 135 is still on the Senate floor waiting for action.  It would address two of the issues Counties have raised regarding representation on the URA board and property tax increment rebates.  Rumors continue that the Speaker will be introducing legislation that may impose stricter guidelines for TIF projects.  To further complicate matters, Littleton voters passed a measure that would require voter approval for projects using TIF and property owner approval for using eminent domain.  This remains one of the few tools local government and the private sector have to help facilitate redevelopment of communities.  With divided houses and bi-partisan support/opposition on both sides of the aisle, can a compromise be found before May 6?

Parental Leave Bill Remains Controversial – HB 1221 renews and expands 2009 legislation requiring employers with fifty or more employees to provide unpaid time off for parents to attend school activities.  Supporters claim this is important for parents to be able to participate in school activities with their children.  Opponents claim that most employers already have leave policies and that no one can point to specific cases where employee leave was denied.  Business leaders wonder why the state should legislate mandates on employers in this area.  The bill is likely to pass the House on a partisan vote but will face a tough road in the Republican controlled Senate.

Pete Kirchhof
[email protected]
303 507-9587 (C)

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