Highlights of the Week
This week the Senate debated the FY2019-20 Long Bill, the budget for the state, and several amendments were added. One of the more significant amendments increased transportation funding by $106 million General Fund, adding to the $230 million for transportation already in the budget. This was a last minute deal struck between the Senate majority and minority leadership to prevent the Senate GOP from requiring the budget bill be read at length which would have taken approximately 10 hours. The surprise amendment decreased General Fund across all other state departments and charged the Office of State Planning and Budgeting with determining the specifics of where the decreases in the budgets would come from. The House and Polis Administration have not yet signed off on the concept, and there are questions about whether the legislature can pass a budget that leaves specific reductions in the hands of the Governor, as opposed to spelling the reductions out directly in the long bill.
During debate of the FY2019-20 Long Bill, the Senate added amendments to:
- Add $106 million General Fund to the Department of Transportation for transportation infrastructure. The General Fund for this would come from reductions to all departments budgets. The Office of State Planning and Budgeting would determine which items could see reduced spending authority.
- Add $55,000 General Fund to the Strategic Action Planning Group to assist the Department of Local Affairs in planning for an aging population
- Add $30,000 General Fund to the Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant program
- Add $25,000 General Fund to the Department of Transportation for a Grade Separation Study
- Add a footnote giving roll forward authority for the Family Planning Program within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
- Increase $2.9 million total, $1.5 General Fund for home care provider rates
- Add $500,000 million General Fund for suicide prevention programs in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
- Add $829,000 to expand the victim’s notification network in the Department of Public Safety
- Add $400,000 for counterterrorism training
- Add $5.4 million from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund for care coordination under the Department of Human Services
- Add $4.3 million from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund for substance abuse recovery services in the Department of Local Affairs including housing and rental assistance
On Thursday, the budget passed the Senate with only six no votes and now is headed to the House of Representatives. Next week in the House, all of the Senate amendments will be removed and the House will start with an unamended version of the Long Bill.
HB19-1240, Sales And Use Tax Administration, is a bill to make changes to the way Colorado collects sales taxes, in light of the South Dakota v. Wayfair Supreme Court decision. Two previous bills this session were postponed indefinitely and deemed premature, but this legislation had the unanimous support of witnesses. HB19-1240 codifies the Department of Revenue rule applying destination based sourcing to all retailers and requires marketplace facilitators to collect and remit sales taxes for the sellers on the platform. Smaller retailers would be able to continue to calculate sales taxes based on their business location until an online system is available to calculate tax rates for addresses. SB19-006, Electronic Sales and Use Tax Simplification System, which passed the legislature this month, will issue an RFP to solicit bids to create a system for retailers to use to calculate tax rates. In the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee, HB19-1240 was amended to narrow the definition of marketplace facilitator and change the implementation date to October 1, 2019. The bipartisan bill passed by a unanimous vote to the House Finance Committee.
HB19-1131, Prescription Drug Cost Education, passed the Senate on a vote of 22-13 on Friday. Senator Ginal, a Democrat from Fort Collins who has been involved in the push for more transparency in the health care sector, voiced opposition to the bill during second reading debate. The bill would require pharmaceutical representatives to share the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) of a drug during meetings with prescribers. She brought several amendments to add enforcement mechanisms and penalties for situations if a representative does not share the wholesale acquisition cost, but all of the amendments failed. During second reading debate an amendment from Senator Smallwood was added to remove language requiring pharmaceutical representatives to provide information about competitors’ products.
A series of small amendments were added to the oil and gas reform bill, SB19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations when the House took up the measure this week. The bill gives local governments more control to regulate oil and gas within their jurisdiction and changes the mission of the state regulatory body for oil and gas. Attempts to add a petition clause to the bill were unsuccessful. A petition clause allows the public to gather signatures to put the measure on the ballot. SB19-181 passed the House on a vote of 36-28 on Friday with a few Democrats including Rep. Esgar, Rep. Buentello, Rep. Donald Valdez, and Rep. Titone voting against the measure.
Looking ahead to next week, SB19-188 to create a paid family and medical leave insurance program, will likely see a hearing with the possibility of multiple amendments being added to the bill to address concerns voiced from each side of the aisle.
Bills of the Week
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