Colorado Farm Bureau has announced the recipients of its 2010 Pinnacle Award. This is the highest award given recognizing one Republican and one Democrat from both the House and Senate for their support on legislation that was vital to the agriculture community, overall commitment to Colorado Agriculture, and their willingness to advocate on behalf of the Industry.
“The Pinnacle Award recognizes those legislators who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect and promote Colorado’s agricultural interests,” said Alan Foutz, Colorado Farm Bureau president. “This is evident through their sponsorship and co-sponsorship of bills, their leadership in defending and advocating on behalf of Colorado agriculture, their workability with the industry, and their voting record on Farm Bureau priority issues.”
2010 Colorado Legislation
As we have passed the 30 day mark following the close of the 2010 Colorado General Assembly Session. All legislation has had to clear the Governor’s desk. Since the legislature adjourned on Wednesday, May 12 (the last day possible under the constitutionally mandated 120 day limit), Governor Ritter had until last Friday, June 11 to act on those bills. You can see a full list of the bills that passed the legislature and the final disposition of those bills.
Sales Tax Ag Exemption
The Colorado Department of Revenue is in the middle of their rulemaking process on the “Energy Use Tax Measure”, HB10-1190 (Concerning the suspension of the exemption from the state sales and use taxes for fuels used for industrial purposes). Colorado Farm Bureau joined other Ag and energy stakeholders, including the Colo. Rural Electric Association, in submitting a letter to the Colo. Dept. of Revenue seeking clarifying language in regards to the Ag exemption amendment done in HB 1190. The amendment was done in order to exempt all fuel uses purchased for agricultural purposes. The intention of the joint letter was to recommend alternative language to the proposed changes to regulation 39-26-102.21 to define “agricultural purposes” in order to offer clear guidance to the utilities that are required to collect the sales tax at the point of energy distribution and for agriculture producers to have a clear understanding. Ultimately, clearer regulatory language will reduce compliance issues for all parties and DOR. The focus of this language would be to define the purpose of the energy consumption instead of attempting to compile a comprehensive list of activities within agriculture production. We will provide further updates as this rulemaking progresses.
An agreement has been reached today between commercial rafting outfitters and private property owners along the Taylor River. The compromise clears the way for sponsors of 24 competing ballot measures to withdraw their respective proposals from the November ballot, averting an expensive and divisive election fight.
Both parties have reached a settlement privately, avoiding possible contentious legislative initiatives or impositions. The agreement permits rafting companies Three Rivers and Scenic River Tours, structured access through the private Wilder Ranch property while respecting each parties’ positions.
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.
Jackson-Shaw, owner of the Wilder on the Taylor fishing reserve, announced today that it is granting the two Taylor River rafting companies, Three Rivers Outfitting and Scenic River Tours, permission to float through its property this summer.
Conflicts between fishermen and commercial rafting on the Taylor River gave rise earlier this year to Colorado House Bill 1188, which died at the end of the legislative session this week.
Jackson-Shaw Chairman and CEO Lewis Shaw said, “While mediation between Jackson-Shaw and the two Taylor River rafting companies continues, Jackson-Shaw recognizes that Three Rivers and Scenic are at the threshold of their commercial rafting season and that it will take time to finalize any formal agreement. Accordingly, as a show of good faith, Jackson-Shaw has decided to give Three Rivers and Scenic permission to float through Wilder on the Taylor this summer.”
Shaw added, “Jackson-Shaw is still hopeful that the mediation process will result in a formal agreement among the parties.”
Mediation between the two rafting companies and Jackson-Shaw began on April 22 and remains ongoing. All parties have agreed that the content of the mediation must remain confidential.
Due to differences in the parties’ and mediator’s availability, a second mediation session could not be scheduled at the Judicial Arbiter Group in Denver until May 26.
Floating Bill Sinks
A conference committee that was convened to work out differences between two versions of the controversial Right-to-Trespass (HB 1188 – Right-to-Float) legislation was unable to find compromise and the committee was discontinued.
Rep. Kathleen Curry (I-Gunnison) made a motion to support a version of the bill that was slightly modified from the House version that would have allowed commercial river outfitters the ability to float through private land on specific rivers, but the committee deadlocked on a 3-3 vote.
Sen. Al White (R-Hayden) made a second motion to support the Senate version of the bill which would have directed a study of the issue to be done this summer. The committee again deadlocked on a 3-3 vote. As a result, proponents acknowledged that there would not be a compromised reached this year and the bill is considered lost. The issue is far from over however, with 20 separate ballot initiative proposals being introduced.
Yesterday Governor Ritter vetoed his first bill of the 2010 session. The bill, HB 1101 “Concerning the registration of a vehicle used for agricultural production” offered by Rep. Baumgardner (R- Hot Sulphur Springs), would have prohibited issuers of farm truck license plates from requiring registrants to show proof of eligibility for those agricultural license plates.
The measure was supported by Farm Bureau and was passed easily by both houses of the state legislature. The text of the Governor’s veto message can be found below.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am returning to the Colorado House of Representatives House Bill 10-1101,
“Concerning the registration of a vehicle used for agricultural production.” I vetoed this bill as of 2:54 p.m. today, and this letter sets forth my reasons for doing so.
As someone who grew up on a farm, I strongly value the work of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers. The agricultural industry contributes not only to the economic well-being of Colorado–which is more important now than ever before–but also the moral fiber and long history of our state.