The Colorado General Assembly convened on January 8 for its annual 120-day legislative session. Last year’s session went as expected with many Colorado businesses on the defensive, and that is going to continue into the 2020 session, even with it being an election year. CNGA has continued to stay engaged during the interim, and we will continue throughout this legislative session.
CNGA has a long history of advocacy as a part of GreenCO and a successful track record of accomplishments over the years. Last year was no exception. The bulk fertilizer tax exemption bill was passed to ensure agricultural status on basic materials utilized for production in our industry. Progress on sales tax simplification was accomplished and new bills to address lingering issues will be considered next session. Business mandates and regulatory efforts were addressed, and significant progress was made to influence these measures, including FAMLI, wages protection, minimum wage, pesticide regulation, and job development.
CNGA will continue to stay engaged on many legislative issues especially pertaining to: water, pesticide regulations, industry regulations, infrastructure funding, and sales and use tax.
Water has been and always will be a large issue for the state of Colorado. This past election we saw Proposition DD pass by a narrow margin. Prop. DD will implement a $29 million tax annually on casino’s sports-betting proceeds to fund the Colorado Water Plan. This was a huge win for Colorado as water continues to be a priority for the state and the legislature.
CNGA will need to be engaged with this development process for new revenue to ensure the proper use and priorities meet water conservation, reuse, and storage for both indoor and outdoor applications. CNGA will also need to continue to work with state and local agencies on the Colorado Water Plan to ensure conservation, land use planning and sound regulatory development is based on science and technology. CNGA, along with the rest of the agricultural community, will need to continue to educate the legislature on all water issues and support water infrastructure legislation.
We can expect to see a few bills on regulation of pesticides this session. We have been working closely with a small coalition to prepare for this. We will continue to oppose any measure that allows for local control and any non-research-based arbitrary bans on pesticides. CNGA will closely monitor and oppose any efforts to expand pesticide regulatory burdens.
Sales & Use Tax
There was much work done on the simplification of sales and use tax last session. Colorado is known as having one of the most complex taxing jurisdictions in the country. Even though last year’s legislation made strides in this issue, we will continue to support sales tax simplification and the recommendation from the task force to create single point of payment for businesses.
Industry Regulation – Investment in Colorado Businesses
CNGA will continue to work with a large coalition on the employer/employee relationship and mandates that will be at the forefront of the 2020 session. Paid Family and Medical Leave (FAMLI) was a hot topic last session, and over the interim, we have been attending the task force created when last year’s bill (SB19-188) was turned into a study. There has been much discussion on what the legislature wants and what the governor wants. The governor isn’t too keen on having it completely administered by the state, and hopes for a private option as well. We will see if the Democrats in the legislature feel the same way, as they wanted it to be a mandate and administered by the state. A lot of work needs to be done on this, including determining whether to have exemptions for smaller employers and certain seasonal employees.
Some other issues that we will be working on this session are supporting efforts to find solutions to retainage issues, and support efforts for better liability protection for contractors. We will also monitor minimum wage and wage protection issues closely.
With Colorado’s booming economy, job shortages continue throughout the state. We will need to support job development legislation that creates opportunities to find and hire the necessary workforce in Colorado.
Transportation continues to be one of the biggest issues in the Capitol, due to how underfunded it is. Over the past few sessions, we have seen multiple bills signed into law, trying to make a dent in the $9 billion in unfunded projects. We will continue to work with the coalition and key legislators on transportation funding.
All of the above goes to show there won’t be any shortage of issues during the 2020 session. We encourage CNGA members statewide to create and maintain a relationship with their local legislators. Personal communications from their district can influence lawmakers, especially when local examples of impact are provided by a constituent. We will continue to build our relationships with the legislature, so we can be a resource to them and educate them on the industry.
CNGA members need to stay engaged. It is our pleasure to continue to serve CNGA at the Capitol, and if you ever have any questions or issues please don’t hesitate to contact us at https://lobbyco.com/contact-us/.