SB 17-021 establishes two programs for persons with mental illness transitioning from incarceration:
In committee, the legislation was amended to add a proposal to transfer $4 million from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund into the Division of Housing line item to implement housing assistance for individuals and provide wraparound services to mental health and substance abuse needs. Unfortunately, the legislation was also amended to remove the use of the funds for homeless individuals. CML will continue to work with the proponents and the bill sponsors to clarify that the funding is available to homeless individuals. Throughout Colorado, municipalities are providing significant resources to help our homeless populations, and CML supports the state also taking a leadership role to house our most vulnerable citizens.
Under current law, a brewery licensed as a wholesaler may conduct tastings and sell its alcohol beverage products at its licensed premises. Distilleries and wineries may do so at their respective licensed premises and at one additional sales room. The bill permits these licensees to operate up to 2 additional sales rooms. The bill also applies the temporary sales room requirements to breweries as exist for other types of licensees, in particular the number of days that a local authority has to respond to an application.
Both wholesaler and manufacturer licenses are not subject to dual-licensing requirements, as they are only issued by the state, which limits the authority that municipalities and local licensing authorities have as compared to traditional, dual-licensed premises. In 2015, CML initiated legislation (HB 15-1217) that gave municipalities more involvement in the permitting of sales rooms that was supported by the Colorado Brewers Guild and the Colorado Distillers Guild. While increasing the number of allowed sales room, SB 253 does no damage to the HB 1217 compromise language. The League will always support additional local control, but this legislation neither adds any or takes any away.
HB 17-1279 requires that before the executive board of a homeowners' association (HOA) in a common interest community brings suit against a developer or builder on behalf of unit owners, the board must:
CML supports this legislation because it is a step forward toward comprehensive construction defects reform - and possibly the only meaningful reform that stands a chance of passage this session. There are, however, flaws in the introduced legislation. The Homeownership Opportunity Alliance (HOA) is working with the sponsor to address concerns from the coalition regarding the tolling of the vote of unit owners as well as unit owners that are excluded from the vote. As a member of HOA, CML agrees these concerns need to be addressed and will work with our allies to pursue amendments.
CML will oppose any legislation that would do damage to the ability of DDAs to function properly. Based on reports of two counties with undetermined issues with their local DDA, Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) intends to run statewide legislation impacting all DDAs. CCI apparently intends to essentially apply the same type of changes to the DDA statutes that HB 15-1348 made to the urban renewal statutes:
While it appears there has been some attempt by CCI to recognize the distinct differences between urban renewal and downtown development, there are still many fundamental misunderstandings driving the decision to move forward with this troublesome legislation. Furthermore, CML has learned that not all counties are thrilled with the decision to try to impair DDAs, as the commissioners there have no concerns with their local DDA. Most include commissioners in the authority already.
While League staff is aware that CCI has been visiting with legislators about this legislation, it is not yet clear whether or not it will actually be introduced. The League is hopeful the General Assembly can be spared yet another contentious bill on the use of tax increment financing, as many legislators have articulated their fatigue of the issue.
SB 17-214 allows an employer to participate in a voluntary firefighter cancer benefits program, as a multiple employer health trust to provide benefits to firefighters by paying contributions into the established trust. An employer participating in the trust will be exempt from the presumptive eligibility mandate for workers compensation for firefighters with certain types of cancers. The bill is similar to the firefighter heart attack benefits program created a couple of years ago with three important distinctions:
CML views the trust as an option for employers to consider, and appreciates that it is not an unfunded mandate. CML expressed to proponents that employers may be more likely to participate if they were allowed to provide coverage under their self-insurance program, where applicable, and perhaps that is a conversation that can occur in the future should the bill become law this year.
SB 17-179 extends the repeal date of an existing law that limits the amount of permit, plan review, or other fees that counties, municipalities or the state may charge for installing solar energy devices for residential use at $500 and commercial use at $1,000. CML opposed this legislation when it was originally introduced in 2011 because setting local permit fees falls solely under the authority of home rule municipalities.
Cities and towns have created these types of user fees to cover the costs of approving and inspecting new construction and are generally self funded programs. Even if the state had the authority to mandate it, an arbitrary statutory cap on such fees would require a subsidy from the municipality's taxpayers. In reality, nothing has changed since 2011 - including the state's lack of authority to mandate fee limits for home rule municipalities.
HB 17-1177 has passed the House and has gone over to the Senate in a revised form, removing the provisions in the bill as introduced, relating to mediation of Colorado Open
Record Act (CORA) denial disputes, and replacing with a 14-day period following
a CORA denial and the requester's filing an application with the district
court. In that 14-day period, the custodian and requester must meet to
attempt to resolve the dispute. If an expedited request is necessary, the
requester must state the factual basis of the expedited need.
custodians rarely deny CORA requests, and when doing so, base their denials statutory
duties (where they may not provide a record), on the absence of having the
record, or other legal grounds. Many of our custodians meet or otherwise
discuss their legal duties and try to resolve a CORA denial dispute with
requesters prior to issuing a denial. However, CML removed its opposition
and is neutral on the amended bill.
SB 17-040 modifies CORA by creating new procedures for structured or searchable data. The bill would require a government custodian to provide a copy of structured data (or, if not feasible, in a searchable format) when requested. If the custodian cannot produce the record in the requested format, the custodian must produce in an alternate format and provide a written declaration attesting to the reasons. If a court subsequently rules the custodian should have provided the data in the requested format, attorney fees may only be awarded if the custodian's actions were arbitrary or capricious. If a custodian performs programming, coding, or search queries, the fee may be based on the cost recovery.
SB 17-040 passed 4-1 out of the Senate State Affairs committee on March 1 with several amendments. Some adopted amendments were at the request of the Attorney General’s Office and include:
In a separate amendment offered by a committee member, the bill also was amended to apply CORA to the judicial branch.
The bill passed out of Senate Appropriations on March 14, with an appropriations amendment for the judicial branch (an alternate amendment removing the judicial branch was discussed, but that amendment was not adopted). These amendments do not change CML’s position on the bill, although the attorney general's amendments do address concerns expressed by some municipal custodians.
SB 17-078 would allow residential storage condominiums to be assessed at the residential assessment ratio rather than as nonresidential property. This is the "man cave" bill that has been introduced in previous sessions to allow certain storage units (not on residential property) to be taxed at the lower residential assessment ratio.
CML testified in opposition to the bill, along with the County Assessors, in Senate Finance on Jan. 26. The basis of CML's position is the lack of uniformity in valuation and the potential fiscal impacts of this and similar exceptions to allow nonresidential property be valued as residential property.
SB 17-009 would increase the
exemption for business personal property tax (BPPT) from the current amount of $7,300
to $10,000 (amended from $21,900 in the bill as introduced) starting in the 2017 property tax year. Starting in 2019, that
threshold would be adjusted biennially for inflation.
Currently, the state offsets the impact from the BPPT exemption by way of an income tax credit for property taxes paid when the taxpayer’s property is less than $15,000. The final income tax year of the credit ends Jan. 1, 2020. Although not at issue in this proposed draft, that context informs the overall fiscal impact. This proposal will increase the already existing the out-year impact on local governments’ property tax collections.
CML opposes this bill due to the fiscal impact and also because local governments have existing authority to partially or totally exempt BPPT under TABOR.
There is ongoing discussion between CML and the Office of the Attorney General over whether municipal law enforcement agencies are statutorily mandated to go through the sunrise process in the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (POST). CML asserts that municipal law enforcement agencies derive their authority from other parts of the statute and do not need to go through the sunrise review process. In light of these discussions, CML worked with the Office of the Attorney General on legislation to make it clear in statute that municipal law enforcement agencies have the authority to hire peace officers and engage in policing activates without approval by the state.
The Coalition to Simplify Colorado
Sales Tax has worked with members the General Assembly on HB 17-1216, which would establish a legislative task force to study sales and use tax simplification between state and local governments. The task force would be 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 would 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 could seek and accept gifts, grants, or donations. The task force would have to make an annual report to Legislative Council that could make legislative and non-legislative recommendations. The task force would be subject to sunset review in three years.
CML remains neutral on the legislation, following several months of exhaustive discussions with the wireless industry and peeling off major preemptions into municipal police powers. The result is a bill that may not be totally necessary but will pass overwhelmingly nonetheless. The Colorado Communications Utilities Alliance (CCUA) and Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) were partners in pushing back on objectionable language. CML agrees with CCUA that the bill is necessary, as siting of small cell wireless facilities can be (and are) sited in public rights-of-way under existing law. HB 1193l clarifies existing authority but does create some intrusion into areas of traditional local authority. The intrusions are not based in any actual problems that have occurred between the industry and municipalities, but rather are consistent with similar legislation being introduced in many other states. In Colorado, significant state preemption occurred 19 years ago with SB 96-10, making the intrusions created by HB 17-1193 are minor as compared to other states.
The bill creates numerous additions to existing statutes. It states that the expedited permitting process established for broadband facilities applies to small cell facilities and small cell networks and adds definitions of "antenna" and "tower". The bill requires a local government to process an application for a small cell facility or a small cell network within 90 days after receiving the completed application, and says that the siting and operation of small cell facilities and small cell networks are a permitted use in any zone. However, local police powers are not impacted as to restrictions that may appropriately be placed on siting. The bill also clarifies the approval process for a consolidated application for multiple small cell facilities or small cell networks. Rights-of-way access afforded to telecommunications providers for the construction, maintenance, and operation of telecommunications and broadband facilities will extend to broadband providers as well as small cell facilities and small cell networks. Finally, if a telecommunications provider or broadband provider complies with applicable law, it has the right to locate or collocate small cell facilities and small cell networks on a local government entity's light poles, light standards, traffic signals, or utility poles. The bill confirms the appropriate use of a local government's police powers.
A House amendment proposed by Comcast added language that excludes mid-wire microwireless transmitters from this process. However, the right of the local government to control and maintain the right-of-way is preserved. The language was further amended in the Senate Local Government Committee to address some local government concerns. The bill passed 5-0 and is expected to pass the full Senate overwhelmingly.
17-1242 is a proposal from the legislative
leadership of the Colorado General Assembly to send a ballot issue to voters at
the fall 2017 general election on transportation funding. CML is currently evaluating the proposal and seeking input from its members, prior to taking a position on the bill. This complex legislation needs to be fully examined so that CML's members can be aware of how they would be affected.
The proposal raises questions about the municipal impacts of a statewide sales tax increase. However, the approach of HB 17-1242 also recognizes that a state-wide funding solution must include a substantial share to local governments by roughly doubling the current revenues provided to municipalities through the Highway User's Tax Fund allocation. The House Transportation committee heard the bill on March 22, adopting several amendments, the most important of which is increasing the annual allocation to CDOT from $300 million to $375 million.
The basic tenets of the proposal, if approved by voters, HB 17-1242 are:
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.