Advocacy & Legal

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The Statehouse Report is published every Monday during the Legislative Session.

 

 

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Click here for a list of bills that are or will be appearing before the Colorado General Assembly. 

This list will be updated weekly during the Legislative Session.

Position Papers

CML produces position papers on bills throughout the legislative session. Click here to view.

 

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Legislative Kickoff Webinar

Check out the recording of our Legislative Kickoff Webinar for information on CML's legislative priorities and session information.

 

Legislative Matters


Twice before, the General Assembly has considered legislation that purported to allow local governments (municipalities and counties) in Colorado the ability to set a minimum wage different than the state minimum wage. Each time, the legislation failed in a split legislature. In 2019, a different outcome is likely.

Read Legislative Matters

Legal

 

Spotlight Case


By David Broadwell, CML General Counsel


SOS Business Licensing and Registration Fees Survive TABOR Challenge  

Since the advent of TABOR in 1992, Colorado municipalities have understood that the adoption of any new “fee” may be susceptible to a legal challenge on the theory that the “fee” is really a “tax” in disguise, and thus requires voter approval.  Just last year the City of Aspen showed how to overcome such a challenge when the city successfully defended their grocery bag fee in the Colorado Supreme Court.

But what about fee regimes that predate the adoption of TABOR?  For example, since 1983 state statutes have required every Colorado Secretary of State to adjust their fees annually to the extent necessary to cover all of the “direct and indirect” costs of the Department of State.  Plaintiffs complained that this regime unduly burdens businesses who pay the fees that cover the majority of the functions of the SOS office, including costs associated with conducting state elections.  In an opinion issued on September 23 the Colorado Supreme Court held, since the requirements of TABOR apply prospectively only, the basic fee regime in the SOS office must be upheld because it is “part of a statutory mechanism that predates TABOR.”

This case ultimately turned on a failure of proof by the plaintiffs.  They simply failed to show that there had been any new charge or increase in the rate of any existing charge imposed by the SOS since 1992 that would qualify as a “new tax,” “tax rate increase,” or “change in tax policy.”  The Supreme Court hinted, however, that the old fee regime does not give the SOS carte blanche to adopt entirely new fees on businesses on discretionary basis, saying such entirely new fees could be “potentially problematical.”  

CML supported the position of the SOS as an amicus curiae in this case.   

Griswold v. National Federation of Independent Businesses, 2019 WL 4581487 (Colo. Sept. 23, 2019)

 

Amicus Update


By David Broadwell, CML General Counsel


SOS Business Licensing and Registration Fees Survive TABOR Challenge  

Since the advent of TABOR in 1992, Colorado municipalities have understood that the adoption of any new “fee” may be susceptible to a legal challenge on the theory that the “fee” is really a “tax” in disguise, and thus requires voter approval.  Just last year the City of Aspen showed how to overcome such a challenge when the city successfully defended their grocery bag fee in the Colorado Supreme Court.

But what about fee regimes that predate the adoption of TABOR?  For example, since 1983 state statutes have required every Colorado Secretary of State to adjust their fees annually to the extent necessary to cover all of the “direct and indirect” costs of the Department of State.  Plaintiffs complained that this regime unduly burdens businesses who pay the fees that cover the majority of the functions of the SOS office, including costs associated with conducting state elections.  In an opinion issued on September 23 the Colorado Supreme Court held, since the requirements of TABOR apply prospectively only, the basic fee regime in the SOS office must be upheld because it is “part of a statutory mechanism that predates TABOR.”

This case ultimately turned on a failure of proof by the plaintiffs.  They simply failed to show that there had been any new charge or increase in the rate of any existing charge imposed by the SOS since 1992 that would qualify as a “new tax,” “tax rate increase,” or “change in tax policy.”  The Supreme Court hinted, however, that the old fee regime does not give the SOS carte blanche to adopt entirely new fees on businesses on discretionary basis, saying such entirely new fees could be “potentially problematical.”  

CML supported the position of the SOS as an amicus curiae in this case.   

Griswold v. National Federation of Independent Businesses, 2019 WL 4581487 (Colo. Sept. 23, 2019)

 

New in the Courts


By David Broadwell, CML General Counsel


SOS Business Licensing and Registration Fees Survive TABOR Challenge  

Since the advent of TABOR in 1992, Colorado municipalities have understood that the adoption of any new “fee” may be susceptible to a legal challenge on the theory that the “fee” is really a “tax” in disguise, and thus requires voter approval.  Just last year the City of Aspen showed how to overcome such a challenge when the city successfully defended their grocery bag fee in the Colorado Supreme Court.

But what about fee regimes that predate the adoption of TABOR?  For example, since 1983 state statutes have required every Colorado Secretary of State to adjust their fees annually to the extent necessary to cover all of the “direct and indirect” costs of the Department of State.  Plaintiffs complained that this regime unduly burdens businesses who pay the fees that cover the majority of the functions of the SOS office, including costs associated with conducting state elections.  In an opinion issued on September 23 the Colorado Supreme Court held, since the requirements of TABOR apply prospectively only, the basic fee regime in the SOS office must be upheld because it is “part of a statutory mechanism that predates TABOR.”

This case ultimately turned on a failure of proof by the plaintiffs.  They simply failed to show that there had been any new charge or increase in the rate of any existing charge imposed by the SOS since 1992 that would qualify as a “new tax,” “tax rate increase,” or “change in tax policy.”  The Supreme Court hinted, however, that the old fee regime does not give the SOS carte blanche to adopt entirely new fees on businesses on discretionary basis, saying such entirely new fees could be “potentially problematical.”  

CML supported the position of the SOS as an amicus curiae in this case.   

Griswold v. National Federation of Independent Businesses, 2019 WL 4581487 (Colo. Sept. 23, 2019)

 

2019 Laws Enacted is Available

2019 Colorado Laws Enacted Affecting Municipal Governments

Each year, CML analyzes the laws passed by the Colorado General Assembly that affect cities and towns, and compiles that information into the publication, Colorado Laws Enacted Affecting Municipalities. The 2019 edition is now available; previous years also are available for free online.

Learn More