The 2nd Legislative Session of the 67th General Assembly adjourned late Wednesday night, May 12th, finishing a few hours before the midnight deadline, but clearly not days early as they had hoped. The total number of ‘introduced’ bills this session was 649 (that does not include any Resolutions).
In the end, it is expected that probably about 300 of those measures will have become law. The Governor has 30 days to sign or veto bills, after that date any measure that remains on his desk automatically goes into law. CFB had an active position on 54 measures this year and staff tracked about another 20 bills. The Policy staff worked on a wide range of topics from the “sheep-herder taskforce” bill, to the “re-imposed taxes” measures, to the ever long living “Right to Float” bill.
After what seemed to be a lengthy and very partisan session, CFB was able to end the year with some key victories. HB 1188 finally died on the calendar after no conference committee report was accepted. The bill designed to create a Range Worker Advisory Council (HB 1407) was killed in the Senate Ag Committee. HB 1113 which transfers the Ports of Entry from the Colo. Dept. of Revenue into the Colorado State Patrol office was successfully passed with a few changes that will now require a performance study to be conducted before the divisions can be transferred. HB 1123 is another victory that clarified controlled agricultural burns and HB 1107 will help control the abuse of Urban Renewal Authority determined land.
A late bill, HB 1418, designed to help community-based renewable energy projects in rural Colorado get up and running by increasing the RPS multiplier was also successful. REAs now have to generate 10% of their power from renewable energy by 2020. All the energy bought by the REAs under this legislation will be credited twice to the REA and will help then achieve their goal under the current standard.
CFB actively worked in opposition to another late bill brought forward by Rep. Weissmann designed to create a review process for all state tax benefits (credits and exemptions), via the House and Senate Finance Committees. Each industry would have to fight to defend each of their exemptions over the next few years and the Committee would have the power to determine whether they should continue, repeal, or modify each exemption. This bill, HB 1429, was lost on the House Floor.
This was another tough year for the Ag Industry as the removal of some specific Ag sales tax exemptions were put back into place. We lost a measure, HB 1006, which would have secured funding for the Division of Water Resources by diverting severance tax money away from the DOW. As a result DWR will have to restructure some positions, make a few cuts, and will not be able to hire a number of open water engineer positions which CFB sees as critical to our state.
HB 1086 was also defeated early on in the year. The bill would have protected a landowner from being held liable for injuries suffered by a trespassing minor if the land contains an “attractive nuisance.” We also lost Rep. Sonnenberg’s HB 1361, a compromise bill with Ag groups and sportsmen that was to make changes to the DOW Habitat Stamp Fund by creating an Operation and Maintenance Fund within the Program. However, this bill was fought by the DOW and killed in the House State Affairs Committee. Finally, the Governor chose to veto HB 1101 which would have helped to clarify the vehicle registration process and definition ‘farm trucks.’
In the end, when considering the priority issues for Colorado Farm Bureau for the 2010 Legislative Session, CFB overall had about a 66% success rate on measures we supported that successfully passed or opposed that were successfully killed.
The 2010 Election season is alive and well! We look forward to hearing from candidates on their plans for the state and in securing a thriving Ag Industry. CFB would like to encourage all members to get engaged in area races at the local, district, and state level to support those candidates that support Farm Bureau and the rural way of life.