Weekly Legislative Update: May 1, 2015

3 Calendar Days left until May 6 – 681 bills introduced, 387 Bipartisan, 258 bills postponed indefinitely, 173 signed by the Governor

Most total bills in five years:

2014:   621 bills
2013:   613 bills
2012:   545 bills
2011:   597 bills 

All rules are waived for the last three days so anything goes!

Construction Defects Story from the Colorado Statesman –


Bonding for State PERA Liability – HB 1388 was introduced late in the session but has the support of Governor Hickenlooper, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and PERA.  The question will be can they get support of the legislature.  It is estimated that the State has a $23 billion dollar liability from underfunding of the state PERA plan.  Although there were changes in 2010 to help correct the deficit, it would take 30 years to work.  The bonding plan would accelerate the resolution of the unfunded liability by the state issuing $12 billion in bonds and allowing PERA to invest the proceeds.  It is complicated and some say risky so while it passed the House on a bi-partisan vote of 45-19, it may have a rocky road in the Senate.  Sen. Holbert was a co-sponsor of the bill but announced that he was taking his name off the bill because of the uncertainty of how this would work.  Some have argued that delaying a solution to this issue will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments.

Hospital Provider Fee Converted to an Enterprise – as we mentioned several weeks ago, the Governor sent legislative leadership a letter outlining a five point plan to deal with the conflict with the TABOR cap and state spending needs.  Speaker Dickie Lee Hullinghorst introduced HB 1389 that would convert the Hospital Provider Fee created in 2009 to a state enterprise that would remove the fees collected under this program from the state budget and would no longer count under the TABOR spending cap.  It would not change the fee structure or the intent of the program but would no longer count under TABOR.  It could free over $600 million dollars in the budget that could be used to fund other priorities like K-12 education, higher education and transportation.  It’s not likely to have a positive reception in the senate.

Fiscal Transparency on Ballot Initiatives – HB 1057 was introduced early in the session to provide more transparency to voters before they sign petitions on the fiscal impact of proposed ballot initiatives.  It met with immediate opposition from House and Committee leadership so it has been delayed and required to go through multiple committees.  It also faced heavy opposition from about fifteen progressive groups as well as two conservative groups.  It was supported by many business organizations, League of Women Voters, Water Congress and the Children’s Campaign.The bill continues to move forward with amendments to address the opposition concerns.  It is expected to pass the House with almost all of the Republicans and a handful of democrats.  The Governor strongly supports the bill and mentioned it in his State of the State Speech early in the Session.  The Senate will take up the measure in the last three days of the session.  It has the support of key Republican leadership including Senate President Bill Cadman.

State Accountability Assessments – and then there were two.  Only two bills remain alive to reduce state assessments.  The House Education Committee killed a controversial bill that would have sanctioned the opting-out of statewide assessments without penalties for students, parents, administrators and districts.  One of the most interesting bills of the session had broad bi-partisan political support as well as support of the teachers union.  The vote to kill the bill was by three republicans and three democrats.  SB 257 and HB 1323 are the only bills left that would reduce the number statewide assessments.  It is hoped that legislators can find a compromise among the two different versions that can be approved by both houses.

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

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