By Jay Hicks, Hicks & Associates
We want to take just a moment to wish everyone in the CNGA family the very best in 2018. Our legislative report for this year focuses on two aspects, 2017 session issues, and 2018 session projections. CNGA continues to be a vital part of the GreenCO coalition including being a very active and effective policy advocate for all GreenCO members and their business issues.
The 2017 session of the Colorado General Assembly was truly a mixed bag of policy discussions and enacted legislation. There were 681 bills introduced with 371 bills passed. GreenCO Legislative Committee met every two weeks to review bills and make determinations on possible support or opposition to those bills. The Committee classified seven bills as GreenCO priority bills, and engaged in another nine bills at the request of our business and coalition partners. All told, Legislative Committee reviewed more than 50 House Bills (HB) and Senate Bills (SB) during the session.
Highlights of the 2017 session:
- Employee benefit issues again were debated with HB-1021 (Wage Theft) and HB-1119 (Workers Compensation Benefits) being proposed. We opposed both measures and sought amendments to minimize the damage these bills would have caused. While the bills passed, significant changes were made to limit their impact.
- Sales and use tax uniformity was debated and a task force was created to provide future legislation to meet the challenges of this tax and its collection.
- Workforce development issues were debated with HB-1180 (Tuition Assistance for Certificate Programs), HB-1194 (Revisions for P-Tech Schools), and SB-272 (Workforce Readiness). We supported these bills and they passed.
- Construction defects legislation again was on the table with a minor win on the liability issues and the defeat of bad legislation like SB-45, which would have made the issue worse.
- Infrastructure funding was a major topic including financing of highways and water projects. While some funding for roads was passed in SB-267 and water project funding continued at projected levels, neither issue has received the funding necessary for present and future growth.
Projected Issues for the 2018 Session:
- The sales tax task force will introduce legislation to modernize the tax process. We will be reviewing and commenting on all such legislation.
- Funding for our infrastructure will be on the table again. Long-term funding is needed to meet the demands of our state but such revenues need to be business friendly.
- Employee benefits will again be discussed as some members of the legislature continue to view changing the balance between employers and employees in Colorado.
- Water Committee has brought forth five bills of which we will need to weigh in on two of them, marijuana and hemp production using waste water. As always, water will be a main focus of our review and lobbying to maintain the GreenCO BMP’s and a balanced water plan for Colorado.
- Modernization of the Nursery Act will be up for debate. We will push for the recommendations made by the CNGA Ad-Hoc Committee to be enacted.
Other issues will arise that we will have to tackle during the session. But, the history and effectiveness of CNGA/GreenCO is well established in the General Assembly. Our collective policy issues will get the attention and action we would expect from members of the legislature due to the past efforts of the Association and its continued efforts into the future. Through CNGA, you will be kept apprised of legislative bills and actions that could impact your business.
Thanks for the opportunity to serve and represent you at the Colorado General Assembly and before state agencies. We truly appreciate your support and trust.
About the contributor: Jay Hicks, the principal lobbyist at Hicks & Associates, has over a decade of experience lobbying the Colorado General Assembly. He joined the firm in 2003, after years of working in public relations and communications. Since 2003, he has built key relationships with state House and Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle. Jay has authored several significant pieces of legislation and lobbied successful passage of legislation on behalf of numerous clients. He is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in business.