Gov. Hickenlooper’s 2018 Proposed Budget
The governor presented his budget to the General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee (JBC) on Nov. 1. While there are many parts of the state budget that can create an impact on municipal interests, CML staff wishes to highlight these key issues that will be center stage in the upcoming session.
Funding the 2016 unfunded mandate on municipal courts: Following the passage of HB 16-1309, which requires additional defense counsel resources in municipal courts, CML worked to delay the effective date of the mandate and collaborated with the governor’s office to request funding in the FY 2018/19 state budget. In the governor’s proposed budget, $2 million from the state general fund is designated to fund the mandate. Implementing legislation will be required, and staff is working with the governor’s office, legislators, the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), and CML members to design the program. Lobbyist: Meghan Dollar
Civil asset forfeiture: CML opposed legislation (HB 17-1313) in the 2017 session that arbitrarily restricted funds local law enforcement may receive through civil asset forfeiture. CML staff has worked in good faith as a member of the governor’s HB 17-1313 Task Force to create a smooth process for implementation at the local level. A significant issue is the prohibition on local law enforcement receiving forfeiture funds from the federal government in certain cases. As passed, the legislation did not have a remedy to help law enforcement cover the use of taxpayer resources put into an investigation but not receive anything in return to make them whole. CML appreciates that the governor’s office heard that concern and has set aside $1.5 million from the marijuana tax cash fund. The Task Force will determine the best way to get those funds directly to law enforcement. Lobbyist: Meghan Dollar
Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA): Shortly following the release of PERA’s plan for solvency endorsed by the PERA board, Gov. Hickenlooper proposed some notable differences in his budget request. With 27 municipal members of PERA, CML has historically worked to ensure their collective voices are heard in the PERA discussions that often revolve around the much larger and more underfunded State and School Divisions. PERA’s goal is a plan that amortizes unfunded liability in each division in 30 years or less. While the PERA board proposed an across the board 2-percent employer contribution, Gov. Hickenlooper’s budget request does not support any employer increase. The governor also proposed a reduction in the automatic cost of living adjustment (COLA). This will be a hotly debated issue in the 2018 session. Lobbyists: Kevin Bommer, Dianne Criswell
Transportation: Revenue to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is proposed to increase by $175 million, due almost entirely from new revenue generated by the passage of SB 17-267 last session. Under SB 17-267, the state may issue up to $2 billion in certificates of participation between FY 2018-19 and FY 2021-22, with up to $1.88 billion of this total allocated to CDOT for strategic transportation projects on state and interstate highways. There is no allocation for municipal streets or transit and still no statewide solution for all of Colorado’s dire transportation needs. Lobbyist: Morgan Cullen
Interim Committees Update; Proposed Bills of Municipal Interest
County Courthouse and County Jail Funding and Overcrowding Solutions Interim Study Committee
Colorado Counties Inc. asked for this legislative interim committee to study ways to combat jail overcrowding and the costs to counties and the county level court system. A number of bills were proposed in the committee, including one that proposed money bond and bail reform. Municipal ordinance violations, petty offenses, and low-level misdemeanors were included in the legislation. CML currently is working with the ACLU on potential monetary bond and bail reform and had concerns that the proposed legislation left municipal courts with no means to incentivize individuals that frequently fail to appear in court. That legislation did not pass as an interim committee bill, but will likely still be introduced in the legislative session. Another piece of legislation that did pass is Bill 2, which creates a program at the state level to implement the use of technology in order to hold hearings quicker and more efficiently. CML will work with the sponsor to identify ways municipal courts can utilize such a program. Lobbyist: Meghan Dollar
Interim Study Committee on Opioid and Other Substance Abuse Disorders
Many parties - including law enforcement, health care, mental health professionals, and local governments - worked on potential legislation. In December, staff will bring a few pieces of proposed legislation to the CML Policy Committee with the request to support. Bills will range from providing more funding for substance abuse treatment to allowing local opt-in for a pilot program allowing supervised injection facilities. Lobbyist: Meghan Dollar
- Bill A – Sets aside funds for substance abuse programs (from marijuana cash fund). The bill also continues the opioid interim committee for three years. Staff will bring this bill to the CML Policy Committee with the recommendation to support.
- Bill C – Creates a pilot program in Denver for supervised injection sites and provides for local opt in and regulation. The pilot program will begin in Denver. The proposed bill also allows schools to provide Narcan, which reverses overdoses. Staff will ask the CML Policy Committee to recommend support for the legislation.
- Bill D – Adds behavioral health care providers to list of healthcare providers that are eligible for loan repayment. Creates a scholarship program for cover costs of certification and medication assisted treatment training. The goal is to get providers in rural areas. Staff is likely to request the CML Policy Committee recommend support.
- Bill F – Prohibits individual and group health benefit plans from requiring prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment and requires all individual and group health benefit plans to include in the carrier's prescription drug benefit coverage a transdermal analgesic lidocaine patch for treatment of pain. Staff may request the CML Policy Committee recommend a neutral position.
Police Officers' and Firefighters' Pension Reform Commission
This interim committee considered two pieces of legislation requested by the Fire and Police Pension Association (FPPA). The CML Policy Committee and CML Executive Board have already considered them, and CML will support both bills. Lobbyists: Kevin Bommer, Dianne Criswell
- Bill A – Allows FPPA to implement an electronic statewide health history form, rather than requiring employees to fill out a paper form. In addition, the legislation would close a gap on preexisting conditions omitted from completed health history form. Currently, employees that fail to disclose a preexisting condition upon hire have to be shown to have done so fraudulently for FPPA to deny death and disability payments if the condition causes the death or disabling condition. The change would protect the vitality of the plan by ensuring any applicable omission is able to be considered by FPPA in determining the appropriate application of benefits.
- Bill B – Allows an employer to enroll new employees in the FPPA defined benefit system, should the employer choose to affiliate with FPPA. Existing employees can stay in their existing plan. The bill also simplifies statutory process for local money purchase (defined contribution) department to join FPPA .
Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force
This task force was created by legislation to study sales and use tax simplification between the state and local governments, including home rule municipalities, to identify opportunities and challenges within existing fiscal frameworks to adopt innovative revenue-neutral solutions that do not require constitutional amendments or voter approval. The four committee meetings produced one bill. Lobbyist: Dianne Criswell
- Bill A – Requires the department of revenue to issue a request for information for an electronic sales and use tax simplification system that the state or any local government that levies a sales or use tax, including a home rule municipality and county, could choose to use. The goal is to determine if an option for administrative simplification can be identified, while preserving home rule municipalities’ choice in how they manage their municipal sales tax.
Sentencing in the Criminal Justice System Interim Committee
This interim committee was established to identify opportunities for criminal justice reform in Colorado. Most pieces of proposed legislation did not have a municipal impact. One piece of legislation that did not pass as an interim bill, but may still be proposed during the legislative session put restrictions on when a local agency can deny employment, a permit, or license based on someone’s criminal background. CML staff is currently identifying the full impact on municipalities. Lobbyist: Meghan Dollar
Water Resources Review Committee
The Water Resources Review Committee considered several potential bills during the interim. However, there is only one bill that passed that was of significant municipal interest, and the CML Policy Committee already recommended support to the CML Executive Board. Lobbyist: Morgan Cullen
- Bill E – The Clean Water Act now allows for loans up to the lesser of 30 years or the useful life of the project. Consistent with federal law, this bill would remove Colorado’s 20-year limitation on loans for water pollution infrastructure and provide municipalities more flexibility and broader financing through the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. (CWRPDA) CML will support this legislation.
Wildfire Matters Review Committee
For several years, the legislature has convened the Wildfire Matters Review Committee. The committee has approved two pieces of legislation this year. The first extends the committee until 2025. The second creates tougher penalties for individuals that leave camp fires unattended or have not extinguished them properly. In addition, the bill removes the requirement that counties post notices regarding unattended campfires. CML staff will likely recommend a neutral position. Lobbyist: Meghan Dollar