A deal in the last days of the session will allow hospitals to receive the full amount of the hospital provider fee (HPF) reimbursement by allowing the program to be an enterprise. Thus, there will no longer be an impact of the fee revenue on the state's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) spending limit. The bill ended up containing various other pieces in order to get bipartisan support in both chambers.
The League supported the final compromise, since the League has supported making the HPF program into an enterprise for the past two years. CML will be working with legislators in the future to ensure that severance tax revenues designated for rural municipalities and counties are protected in the future and not used as backfill for the state general fund.
SB17-301 ties the reauthorization of the Colorado Energy
Office to a series of energy related policy changes that would broaden the mission
of the agency to promote and support a so called “all of the above” Colorado
energy economy. Without legislative reauthorization, the Colorado energy office
funding expires July 1, 2017.
Specifically SB17-301 authorizes a number of statutory
changes, most notably:
Following the 2016 legislative session, it was clear the ACLU was focused on the operations of municipal courts. During the interim, CML formed a working group comprised of CML staff, municipal judges, an attorney, a court administrator, and ACLU policy staff. The purpose of the group was to identify ways the two entities can find compromise. The group has been meeting off and on since September 2016. Early on, the ACLU gave examples of individuals that were unable to bond out of jail and remained incarcerated because the municipal court met infrequently. From this discussion, language negotiations began on HB 17-1338. The bill creates a process for municipal courts to hold hearings within 48 hours or within 96 hours if the person is incarcerated on a Sunday or a holiday. The legislation also requires county jails to notify a municipal court that they have incarcerated someone on a municipal charge.
Many municipal courts already utilize video advisals and many plan to implement more technology in order to implement the bill. There is nothing in the introduced legislation that prevents the use of technology at hearings. The language in HB 17-1338 was carefully negotiated over several months. CML staff would like to thank the several municipal judges that spent their time negotiating on this important bill. Without their participation, the language in HB 17-1338 could have been much more problematic for municipal courts. CML is neutral on HB 17-1338 because the League understands the policy intent of the legislation, and worked with the ACLU to craft bill language that municipal courts can better implement.
The Coalition to Simplify Colorado
Sales Tax worked with members the General Assembly on HB 17-1216, which establishes a legislative task force to study sales and use tax simplification between state and local governments. The task force is composed of two members of the House of Representatives, two members of the Senate, one employee from the Colorado Department of Revenue, one representative from CML, one representative from Colorado Counties Inc., one representative from a statewide association of small businesses, one representative of a statewide chamber of commerce, one private tax practitioner, the executive director of the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, and four representatives from self-collecting home rule municipalities (based on the membership categories in the CML bylaws).
The task force will study state and local tax simplification to identify opportunities and challenges within existing fiscal frameworks to adopt innovative revenue-neutral solutions, including the feasibility of a third-party entity for state or local sales and use tax administration, return processing, and audits; making audits more uniform; utilizing certified software for tax administration and sales tax remittance; and utilizing a single tax return. The task force may seek and accept gifts, grants, or donations. The task force will make an annual report to Legislative Council that could make legislative and non-legislative recommendations. The task force is subject to sunset review in three years.
HB 17-1216 takes effect upon signature, and the first meeting of the task force must take place before July 12, 2017.
HB 17-1219 expands and extends the Agricultural Water Leasing Pilot Program administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Established in 2013, the pilot program demonstrates the practice of fallowing agricultural irrigation land and leasing the associated water rights for temporary municipal, agricultural, environmental, industrial, or recreational use.
The bill extends the pilot program by extending
Current law finances the state's water quality program with a mix of general fund money and fees that are paid by sources that discharge pollutants in the state's waters. HB17-1285 raises the fees and establishes goals for future adjustments of the ratio of revenue from fees and the general fund as follows:
The legislation is the result of a 3 year task force to ensure adequate funding for the Water Quality Control Division. CML was a formal participant, and has been a longtime supporter of properly funding the division but ensuring the state continues to support the program, as well. The stakeholders involved worked to ensure equity among all permit holders and create long-term stability within the fund.