2017 Senate Bills

Number of bills analyzed

Bills supported

Bills Opposed

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SupportSB 17−001: Alleviate Fiscal Impact State Rules Small Business
Position: Support

This bill would require a state agency to give a small business (fewer than 500 employees) a period of time to cure a first-time minor violation of a rule instead of enforcing the rule by imposing a fine. When an agency determines that a small business has committed a minor violation of a rule, instead of imposing a fine, the agency would be required to notify the small business in writing of the violation, including the steps to cure the violation, and give the small business 30 business days to cure the violation. Upon a showing of good cause, the business owner may request additional time to cure the violation. If the small business owner fails to cure the minor violation within the stated time period, the agency may impose the fine on the small business. This does not apply in cases where an agency is required by statute to assess a fine for noncompliance. In addition, under current law agencies are required to convene stakeholder groups to give input about proposed rules. The bill amends the stakeholder provision to direct agencies to make diligent attempts to notify and solicit input from representatives of small businesses about proposed rule-making, if the agency’s proposed rule-making has a potential negative impact on small businesses. This bill is similar to SB15-180, on which POL noted a concern for singling out small businesses of under 100 employees back then in that bill. This bill broadens the scope, and while we’d like to see this applied to ALL businesses, this covers about 572,546 businesses, or about 98% of all businesses in Colorado (from the fiscal note, according to the Small Business Administration). Close enough for government work, as they say!

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−002: Compulsory Review of Rules by Each Principal Dept
Position: Support

Current law requires each principal department to review all of its rules, in accordance with a schedule established by the department of regulatory agencies (DORA), to assess the continuing need and cost-effectiveness of each rule. This bill repeals the DORA schedule-setting and instead requires a review and supplemental update to be completed every 3 years, commencing in 2017. Thereafter, the bill imposes a triennial schedule for reviews to be conducted.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−003: Repeal Colorado Health Benefit Exchange
Position: Support

This bill repeals the state’s health insurance exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, on January 1, 2018. Under the bill, Connect for Health Colorado has one year to wind-down its operations. By December 31, 2018, the board of Connect for Health Colorado must transfer any unencumbered funds to the State Treasurer to deposit in the General Fund. Along with the repeal of Connect for Health Colorado, the bill repeals the legislative oversight committee for the health exchange and the premium tax credit for contributions made to Connect for Health Colorado. Barring a change in federal law, it’s assumed that provisions of the federal PPACA requiring states to establish a state exchange or participate in a federally operated exchange remain in effect. Therefore, the state would transition to the federal health insurance exchange healthcare.gov, if it still exists at that time.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−004: Access to Providers for Medicaid Recipients
Position: Support

Under current law, recipients of services under the Colorado medical assistance program (medicaid) are not responsible for the cost of services by a medical provider or the cost remaining after payment by medicaid or another private insurer regardless of whether the medical provider is enrolled in the medicaid program unless the medical services provided are nonreimbursable by medicaid. This bill would amend the statute so that the prohibition on charging medicaid recipients for medical services applies only if the medical provider is enrolled in Medicaid provided that prior to providing medical services to a medicaid recipient, a nonenrolled provider enters into a written agreement with the recipient as specified in the bill. If this requirement is met, the medicaid recipient would be responsible for the cost of the medical services provided by a nonenrolled provider.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
SupportSB 17−005: Handgun Safety Training For School Employees
Position: Support

This bill permits persons who possess a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun (permittee) and are employed by a school district, charter school, or institute charter school to carry a concealed handgun onto the grounds of a school if: the permittee has successfully completed a school employee handgun safety course provided by a county sheriff; the local board of education of the school district (local board) or, in the case of an institute charter school, the state charter school institute, has approved the curriculum of the sheriff’s department that provided the handgun safety course; the permittee has received permission from the local board or, in the case of an institute charter school, from the state charter school institute, to carry a concealed handgun onto school grounds; and the permittee has notified the administration of the school, charter school, or institute charter school that he or she may be carrying a concealed handgun on school grounds. The bill authorizes the county sheriff to provide the handgun safety training course required above to any employee of any public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school who also possesses a permit to carry a concealed handgun and specifies some conditions for establishing the course curriculum. The bill also specifies that each local board and the state charter school institute may establish a maximum number of employees who may carry a concealed handgun in each school, charter school, and institute charter school and deny permission to carry a concealed handgun to any employee if granting permission to the employee would result in such a limit being exceeded.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Personal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−007: Repeal Ammunition Magazine Prohibition
Position: Support

This bill repeals the prohibition on the sale, transfer, and possession of “large-capacity” ammunition magazines, and it also repeals the requirement that a magazine manufactured in Colorado have a permanent stamp or marking indicating it was produced after July 1, 2013.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Property Rights
  • Free Markets
SupportSB 17−008: Legalize Gravity Knives and Switchblades
Position: Support

This bill would legalize the possession of a gravity knife or switchblade knife by removing such knives from the definition of ‘illegal weapon’. This would expand the means by which you can protect your life, liberty and property!

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−009: Business Personal Property Tax Exemption
Position: Support

Under current law, if a business has less than $ 7,300 of personal property that would be listed on a single personal property schedule, then the personal property is exempt from the property tax and the business is not required to submit a schedule to the county assessor. This bill changes that exemption amount from $ 7,300 to $ 21,900, adjusted for inflation in the future. Continuously taxing businesses on personal property and forcing them to list a schedule year after year after year is not a good way to “create jobs.” This exemption has been increased slightly in the recent past, why not increase it more?

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Property Rights
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−011: Study Transp Access for People With Disabilities
Position: Oppose

This bill would create a technical demonstration forum consisting of seven members to study and document how advanced technologies can improve transportation access for people with disabilities. The forum is directed to study the transportation access needs of people with disabilities in El Paso and Teller counties and explore technological and transportation business solutions that could increase transportation access for people with disabilities in those areas. The forum may recommend that the executive director of the department of labor and employment enter into a contract with a technology developer or transportation business to conduct one or more pilot projects in El Paso County, Teller County, or both counties to demonstrate the efficacy of a certain technology or transportation business product to improve transportation access for people with disabilities. On or before December 31, 2017, the forum is required to publish a report of its research and findings, including the results of any pilot projects and any legislative recommendations.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−014: Limits on Underground Storage Tank Regulation
Position: Support

The Division of Oil and Public Safety in the Department of Labor and Employment regulates petroleum storage tank facilities in Colorado. As of January 1, 2017, Colorado has approximately 7,200 active underground petroleum storage tanks. This bill prohibits a local government from imposing inspection requirements or charging inspection fees for underground petroleum storage tanks.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Property Rights
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−016: County Choice Child Protection Teams
Position: Support

Current law, established in the ‘70’s, requires the creation of a child protection team for any county or group of contiguous counties receiving more than 50 referrals related to child abuse or neglect in a year. Other counties or groups of contiguous counties are encouraged, but not required, to establish a child protection team. The bill makes it optional for all counties and groups of contiguous counties to establish a child protection team. Over the years many layers of oversight have been added with respect to child protection and according to testimony from some of the counties, this particular layer has become redundant and does not serve much of a purpose today. Allowing counties to determine whether to continue this layer is an opportunity for reasonable reductions in government by those who are the most closely acquainted with the situation in their localities.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−022: Rural Economic Advancement of Colorado Towns
Position: Oppose

This bill creates a grant program, funded at the outset by $ 1.5 million in general fund appropriations over the next three years, for rural communities experiencing “significant economic events.” Rural communities mean local governments of a certain size, but the Executive Director of the Department of Local Affairs can modify this size by rule. The bill declares: “the department should award grants to rural communities that have experienced significant economic events to assist the communities with diversifying their economies, creating jobs, and expanding their local businesses.” The bill also authorizes the director to coordinate the provision of nonmonetary resources to assist with job retention or creation in a rural community. Central planning and the redistribution of tax dollars by the state government from you, the citizen, to local governments is not the proper role of state government. Government cannot “create” jobs, it can only take money from some citizens to give it to other citizens. This inefficient process expands government, spends tax dollars inappropriately, and ultimately suppresses the very economy it seeks to “help.”

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSB 17−023: Register Athlete Agents Revised Uniform Act 2015
Position: Oppose

Athlete agents first became regulated in Colorado through the enactment of the ‘Uniform Athlete Agents Act’ in 2008, which required athlete agents to register with the department of regulatory agencies. The general assembly repealed the registration requirement in 2010. The world did not end. This bill enacts the ‘Revised Uniform Athlete Agents Act (2015)’. It establishes new provisions for registration and renewal of registration for athlete agents, to be administered by the secretary of state. They’re sorry they let you down from 2010 to now by letting the free market go wild, but they’re back now. Because you need to be protected. By the state. From everything.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−029: Funding for Full-day Kindergarten
Position: Oppose

This bill increases supplemental kindergarten funding for the 2017-18 budget year and each budget year thereafter. The bill expresses the intent to increase funding annually for full-day kindergarten starting in the 2018-19 budget year and continuing through the 2022-23 budget year so that by the 2022-23 budget year, taxpayers are completely funding kindergarten students as full-day pupils. Subject to a vote of the people as per TABOR, the bill would authorize the state to retain and spend all revenues above TABOR limits beginning in the 2017-18 fiscal year. No TABOR refunds for you. Despite numerous reports on the lack of persistency of any gains attributed to early childhood education programs, and despite the lack of a constitutional mandate for a free education in Colorado for those under the age of 6, and despite the large annual increase in the size of the state’s budget (being spent on other things), and despite the bi-partisan call to make transportation a priority this legislative session, and despite the endless demands for more money irrespective of numerous studies that show very little, if any, correlation between money spent on education and outcomes, we need to bust the budget for taxpayer funded daycare, I mean kindergarten? No.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−030: Exempt Injectable Anabolic Steroids for Cattle
Position: Support

Current law allows for ranchers to use anabolic steroids on cattle through implants, “… which is expressly intended for administration through implants to cattle or other nonhuman species and which has been approved by the secretary of health and human services for such administration.” This bill would amend that wording to include injections of anabolic steroids as well. It would remain illegal (unchanged) to do the same for people. Some ranchers use steroids on their cattle to make them grow faster, and there are a couple of ways to give them steroids – implants and injections. The law currently allows this through “implants”, this bill makes it specifically legal to do injections. Otherwise, ranchers would be subject to criminal charges under the statutes for controlled substances (drug laws) for steroids, cocaine, etc.

The free market offers producers and consumers the ability to decide what they consume. Steroids can make it cheaper to bring animal products to market and some people are fine with that. Other people specifically will demand steroid-free products. Some people pay more to buy steroid free milk at the grocery, some don’t. Same for beef. A free market allows for choice.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−032: Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Access
Position: Support

The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program tracks prescriptions for controlled substances and provides a mechanism whereby practitioners can discover the extent of each patient’s drug requests and whether other providers have prescribed similar substances during a similar period of time, etc. Current law gives law enforcement officials and state regulatory boards access to the prescription drug monitoring program with a request that is accompanied by an official court order or subpoena. This bill changes this requirement to an official court order or warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause. To understand the change, you need to understand the definitions of these terms. Generally speaking, a subpoena is a writ issued by a government agency, most often a court, to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence. There is a penalty for failing to do so. Lawyers or even simply persons representing themselves can request that the court issue a subpoena. A warrant is harder to attain because it is an authorization for a search, seizure or arrest and it must include a description of what you’re looking for, where you expect to find it, and demonstrate probable cause. So there’s a higher bar required to obtain a warrant than a subpoena. This bill raises the bar for the government to access your prescription records from this database. Score one for individual liberty and limiting government.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−033: Delegate Dispensing Over-the-counter Medications
Position: Support

This bill allows a professional nurse to delegate to another person, after appropriate training, the dispensing authority of an over-the-counter (OTC) medication to a minor with the signed consent of the minor’s parent or guardian. It also allows nurse practitioners to delegate medical functions to a professional nurse or practical nurse, consistent with the medical plan prescribed by a physician, podiatrist, or dentist. This bill is a small, but positive, reduction in government restriction/oversight.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−038: Registration Home Inspectors
Position: Oppose

Under current law, home inspectors are not subject to regulation by any state agency. This bill makes it unlawful for a person to act as a home inspector without first registering with the department of regulatory agencies (DORA) and requires a review of the board’s duties and functions in registering home inspectors after 5 years under the existing sunset laws. Statists gonna state, and DORA’s gonna regulate.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−039: Education Income Tax Credits for Nonpublic School
Position: Support

This bill would establish a private school tuition income tax credit for taxpayers who enroll a dependent qualified child in a private school or who provide a scholarship to a qualified child for enrollment in a private school. The income tax credit would commence for income tax year January 1, 2018. The credit may be carried forward for 3 years but may not be refunded, and the department of revenue is granted rule-making authority. In addition, the credit may be transferred, subject to certain limitations. The bill also establishes an income tax credit for taxpayers who use home-based education for a qualified child for income tax years commencing on or after January 1, 2018. This credit may also be carried forward for 3 years but may not be refunded. The bill specifies the amounts for both types of credits. Allowing some small amount of school choice would be a step in the right direction. 

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−042: Repeal Local Government Internet Service Voter Approval
Position: Oppose

Under current law local governments are prohibited from providing cable television, telecommunication services, or high speed internet generally, without first receiving voter approval on a ballot proposition that includes a description of the proposed service, the role the local government will have in the provision of the service, and the intended subscribers of such service. Local governments that do provide these services must comply with all state and federal laws, rules, and regulations governing the service by a private provider and may not grant preferences or discriminate in the provision of the service. This bill repeals these restrictions and allows local governments to provide cable television, telecommunication services, or high speed internet without having to obtain voter approval. The bill also deletes provisions prohibiting local governments from granting itself or other private service providers “undue or unreasonable preference or advantage” and requiring local governments to apply certain rules and policies to itself and any private service providers without discrimination. Broadband is the new roads, and government wants to deliver!

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−043: Transportation Network Company Drivers Medical Certificate Not Required
Position: Support

Current statute requires that before someone can drive for a “Network Company” (Uber, Lyft, etc.), they have to be 21 years old and 1) have a valid driver’s license, 2) have proof of insurance, 3) have proof of vehicle registration, and 4) have proof that they are medically fit to drive. Where #4 came from, and how you prove that, we’re not sure. But it doesn’t matter, because this law strikes #4. People always ask, “Do they ever actually REPEAL any laws?” Yes, Virginia, occasionally they do. If SB17-043 passes, this will be one of those times when a piece of the law is actually repealed.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−047: Additional Incentives Beneficial Use Waste Tires
Position: Oppose

When you hear the word “incentives,” let freedom the warning bells ring. Under current law, retailers of new motor vehicle tires and new trailer tires have to collect a waste tire fee. Currently, the Sold and Hazardous Waste Commission can charge a maximum fee of $ 1.50 per tire and these fees go into a fund that’s used for a “business development grant, loan, and incentive funding program that will assist in the creation of waste tire business opportunities and market development activities and the creation of waste tire recycling jobs.” Translation? We’re going to make the car dealers charge you a fee for the tires they’re selling, and then give that money to other industries we think the taxpayers should be funding. Currently the fee cap is scheduled to automatically reduce to .55 cents and the fund is set to expire in 2018. This bill would delete the reduction, delay the fund’s repeal, and allow prior loans that have been made under this program to be converted into grants. Loans must repaid, grants don’t have to be. So this bill says, “Meh, nevermind about paying back that taxpayer funded loan.”

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−057: Colorado Healthcare Affordability & Sustainability Enterprise
Position: Oppose

Here’s pretty much all you need to know about this bill, straight from the fiscal note: “State revenue subject to TABOR will decrease by $ 859.5 million in FY 2017-18 and $ 848.7 million in FY 2018-19.” Yep, turning the hospital provider fee into an “enterprise” removes it from TABOR and means the state gets to keep almost $ 1 billion more dollars of your money. Just like HB15-1389 which tried to do pretty much the same thing.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−058: Employee Agent Purchase of Alcoholic Beverages
Position: Support

Instead of requiring the actual registered manager or licensee of a hotel, restaurant, tavern, lodging or entertainment facility to be the only ones who can purchase alcohol beverages for their licensed premises, this bill allows an employee or agent to purchase alcohol beverages on their behalf. Reducing regulation and red tape? Good.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−059: Roundabout Turn and Lane Change Signal
Position: Support

This bill exempts a person from using their turn signal when entering, navigating, or exiting a roundabout, unless otherwise posted. Failing to use a turn signal in a roundabout is currently a Class A traffic infraction punishable by a fine of $ 70 and a surcharge of $ 10. From the fiscal note, here are some interesting statistics on all (not just roundabaouts) turn signal violations between January 2014 and January 2017: there were 6,576 convictions for failing to use a turn signal. Of this number, “… there were 138 males, 2,404 females, and 34 for which gender information was not available; 5,522 were Caucasian, 597 were African American, 236 were Hispanic, 100 were Asian, 3 were Native American, and 118 were classified as other/unknown.” Obviously, there must have been a typo for the number of males because males + females + NA only add up to 2,576. The number of males must have really been 4,138.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−061: Additional Funding Charter School Operating Costs
Position: Support

This bill would treat public charter schools more equitably while still protecting dedicated public school funding that has been authorized for specific purposes.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Equal Protection/Rule of Law
SupportSB 17−062: Student Free Speech Public Higher Education Campuses
Position: Support

The last part about forcing the schools to convert current free speech zones to a monument or memorial was removed, so the bill now supports the principles of Individual Liberty and Equal Protection of the Rule of Law.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Equal Protection/Rule of Law

Previous rating: Not Rated. The bill prohibits an institution of higher education from restricting a student’s right to speak in a public forum, including speaking verbally, holding a sign, or distributing materials. Institutions of higher education may not designate an area of campus as a free speech zone, and may only restrict the time, place, and manner of student speech if the restrictions are: reasonable, unrelated to suppressing free expression, justified without reference to the content of the restricted speech, serving a significant government interest, and leaving open alternative ways to communicate the information. The court is to award reasonable court costs and attorney fees if it finds that a violation has occurred. All of that is well and good. What pushed us into a No Rate was the mandate that any current free speech zones must be converted to a monument or a memorial – that seems a little over the top.

OpposeSB 17−063: Marijuana Club License
Position: Oppose

This bill is one of two marijuana bills that Principles of Liberty waited to rate until we gathered additional information from the committee hearing. We have determined that both SB17-063 and a similar bill, SB17-184, oppose limited government. This bill died in committee, but it would have created a license for marijuana clubs, prohibited the operation of marijuana clubs without proper state and local licensure and affirmed the power of local licensing authorities to promulgate rules for marijuana clubs. According to testimony on SB17-184 and the fiscal note on that bill, there are currently over 20 marijuana clubs in operation in Colorado. The provisions of this bill would have required some clubs to adapt their business models. The bill would have allowed the club to buy and distribute marijuana from a licensed retailer or cultivate/sell its own marijuana with proper licensure, but prohibited patrons from bringing their own marijuana products into a club. It also would have required people to consume their marijuana purchases on-site and prohibited marijuana clubs from serving food or alcohol. As we note in our analysis of SB17-184, empowering localities to regulate private industry is not “local control.” It’s a violation of limited government, as is imposing state regulation on private industry.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−064: License Freestanding Emergency Departments
Position: Oppose

This bill would create a new license, referred to as a ‘freestanding emergency department license’, for the department of public health and environment to issue on or after July 1, 2019 to a health facility that provides emergency and urgent care and is either independent from and not affiliated with or located in a hospital or is operated by a hospital at a location off the hospital’s main campus. The state board of health is to adopt rules regarding the new license, including rules to set licensure requirements and fees, safety and care standards, staffing requirements, fee transparency requirements, and other areas related to the operation of freestanding emergency departments. To qualify for a license, a facility must provide claims and billing data to health insurers and must be able to triage patients to determine the level of care they require. Starting on the date the bill takes effect through June 30, 2019, the department is prohibited from issuing a new license to a person to operate a freestanding health facility that provides emergency care, whether independent from or operated by a hospital, unless the facility will serve an area of the state that has limited access to emergency care. The bill also imposes requirements on businesses operating as a freestanding emergency departments.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−065: Transparency in Direct Pay Health Care Prices
Position: Oppose

This bill creates the ‘Transparency in Health Care Prices Act’, which would require health care professionals and health care facilities to make the health care prices they assess directly for common health care services they provide available to the public. Additionally, the act prohibits health insurers, government agencies, or other persons or entities from penalizing a health care recipient, provider, facility, employer, or other person or entity who pays directly for health care services or otherwise exercises rights under or complies with the act. We understand that the healthcare industry is an opaque mess. However, the healthcare industry is the product of intensive government regulation. You can get prices now by asking, checking with insurers, looking at Healthcare Blue Book, getting Medicare prices, or checking out other cash for care sites on the web. The “prices” that have to be disclosed are likely to be the prices that no one actually pays due to various discounts, provider kickbacks, etc. While we fully appreciate the problems faced by consumers (including us) in the healthcare industry, this bill proposes to use more government regulation as the solution to a government-created problem.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−067: Educator Effectiveness 50% Student Academic Growth
Position: Oppose

Under current law, at least 50% of a performance evaluation for a teacher or principal (educator) must be determined by the academic growth of the teacher’s students or the students in the principal’s school. This bill would eliminate that requirement and only allow schools to use student academic growth in educator evaluations for no more than 20% of the evaluation. The bill also allows a local board of education or board of cooperative services that adopts its own local licensed personnel evaluation system to exempt teachers or principals who have either an existing effective or highly effective rating from the annual requirements of such system for a period not to exceed 3 years.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−068: School Counselors Early Support For Students
Position: Oppose

Under current law, a public school that includes any of grades 7 through 12 is eligible to receive a grant through the behavioral health care professional matching grant program and a public middle, junior, or high school is eligible to receive a grant through the school counselor corps grant program. This bill would add elementary schools to the list of public schools eligible to receive grants through those programs.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−072: Convenience Fees Prohibition
Position: Oppose

This bill would prohibit a seller from charging convenience fees on any sales transaction involving admission to an entertainment event. Of course, state and local governments may continue to charge convenience fees on credit or debit card transactions, as long as the fees do not exceed the cost incurred to process the payment.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−073: Promote Runyon-Foundation Lakes State Wildlife Area
Position: Oppose

This bill directs stakeholders interested in the Runyon-Fountain lakes state wildlife area (including the Colorado division of parks and wildlife, the city of Pueblo, and the Pueblo conservancy district) to cooperatively engage in a long-term process to promote the maximum beneficial development and maintenance of the area. The stakeholders are to report to the general assembly’s committees of reference with jurisdiction over natural resources by March 1, 2018, regarding the progress of the cooperative effort.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−075: Income tax Deducation for Mil. Retirement Benefits
Position: Oppose

Currently, a person who is 55-64 years old may deduct up to $ 20,000 of retirement benefits from federal taxable income, and a person who is 65 years old or older may deduct up to $ 24,000. These limits apply to retirement benefits from all sources. This bill allows a person of any age to deduct an unlimited amount of military retirement benefits from his or her state income tax. All other retirement benefits continue to be subject to the existing tax structure. This bill was run last year, when we commented, “Instead of playing favorites for select constituents to score political points, how about reducing taxes for everyone? Oh, by the way, the fiscal note cost shows an average $ 24 million hit per year.” This year’s fiscal note runs at over $ 40 million per year, almost double last year’s fiscal note. Hmmm, more special government favors, more government expenses than originally projected…. we see a pattern here…

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Equal Protection/Rule of Law
OpposeSB 17−084: Coverage for Drugs in a Health Coverage Plan
Position: Oppose

The bill prohibits a health insurance carrier from excluding or limiting a drug for an enrollee in a health coverage plan if the drug was covered at the time the enrollee enrolled in the plan. A carrier may not raise the costs to the enrollee for the drug during the enrollee’s plan year. Continuing to try to fix government created problems with more more government. 

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−085: Increase Documentary Fee & Fund Attainable Housing
Position: Oppose

This bill creates a new class of people, the “missing middle,” whose members “earn too much on an annual basis to qualify for most federal and state housing assistance programs but do not make enough in yearly income to qualify for conventional private sector assistance that also promotes home ownership.” The bill would create the Statewide Attainable Housing Investment Fund. The bill specifies that at least 25% of monies in the fund must be used to support new or existing programs that assist households earning an income of up to 80 percent of the area median income for people in that area with financing, purchasing, or rehabilitating single family homes. That could be a pretty high income number, depending on where you’re at. This program will be funded by a new $ 4 surcharge on each document received for recording or filing by the county clerk and recorder in addition to any funds made available to the fund by the state (or anyone else). Recordings and filings received by county clerk and recorder offices are primarily related to real estate deeds or liens and marriage or civil union licenses. This bill waylays one group of citizens in order to redistribute their money to another group of citizens. We’re not sure how this even qualifies as a fee rather than a tax, since money is being collected for one function and spent on a completely different function.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−086: Authorize Local Governments Inclusionary Housing Programs
Position: Oppose

In 1981, the general assembly enacted legislation that prohibits counties and municipalities (local governments) from enacting any ordinance or resolution that would control rent on private residential property. This bill would clarify that an ordinance or resolution that would control rent on either private residential property or a private residential housing unit does not include an ordinance or resolution enacted by a county or a municipality that establishes inclusionary housing or inclusionary zoning requirements as a condition of obtaining approval for the development of a project. Requiring “inclusionary zoning conditions” for developers for approval of their projects is just another way to skin the same cat. The fact that there may be some juicy federal funding still dangling out there for developers to compensate for lost opportunity cost (and even make low income housing more profitable to them than retail ventures) is a perfect example of government distortion of free markets to advance social policy.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−088: Participating Provider Network Selection Criteria
Position: Oppose

This bill would require health insurers that offer a narrow or tiered network to develop, use, and disclose to participating and prospective healthcare providers, consumers, and the Commissioner of Insurance the standards they use for selecting providers to participate in its network. For networks that an insurer markets as representing quality or value, the insurer must include a quality component in its standards that carries an equal or greater weight than other components of the standards. Quality criteria must be based on specialty-appropriate, nationally recognized, evidence-based medical guidelines or nationally recognized, consensus-based guidelines. The bill would require an insurer to provide written notice to a provider at least 45 days prior to taking an adverse action against a provider, along with an explanation of the proposed adverse action, reference to the evidence or documentation behind the decision, and to inform the provider of the right to request the insurer to reconsider the adverse action. The bill would also require insurers to establish a reconsideration process with specific deadlines. An insurer that violates the provisions of this bill engages in an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the business of insurance. Under current law, an insurer found to have committed an unfair or deceptive practice by the Commissioner of Insurance may face a range of potential disciplinary actions, including a fine of up to $ 30,000 per act and up to $ 750,000 in aggregate per year for knowingly committing such violation as well as suspension or revocation of an insurer’s license

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−089: Allow Electric Utility Customers Install Energy Storage Equipment
Position: Support

This bill begins with a legislative declaration that consumers of electricity have a right to install and use electricity storage systems on their property, and that this will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid, save money, and reduce the need for additional electric generation facilities. The bill directs the Colorado public utilities commission to adopt rules under which residential and small commercial consumers can install electricity storage systems with a discharge rate of up to 25 kilowatts AC for later use or to provide backup in case of an outage. The utility and interconnection approval process for photovoltaic plus storage systems must be simple and streamlined, subject to electrical code and safety requirements but not more complex than existing approval requirements for photovoltaic installations. Any applicable standby charges, minimum charges, additional meter charges, or other fees or charges must be identical as between customers with electricity storage systems and those without.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−091: Allow Medicaid Home Health Services In Community
Position: Oppose

This bill would expand Medicaid utilization to the tune of $ 2.5 million per year. It does so by redefining home health services to no longer require that said health services be given in the home. Here is how the bill would change this definition: “”Home health services” is synonymous with “home health care” and includes the following services provided to an eligible person in his place of residence, through a certified home health agency, pursuant to a home health plan of care…” By striking 5 words from statute, this bill expands the definition of Home Health Services to include services not administered in the home, with the expectation is that people will be able to utilize an extra $ 2.5mm per year in Medicaid services. The massive expansion of eligibility criteria and utilization rates have already created a massive budget problem for Colorado, but, hey, what’s an extra few million…?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−093: Operation Of Bicycles Approaching Intersections
Position: Support

For your “protection,” it is currently a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense for a bicyclist to glide through an intersection without stopping, punishable by a per offense penalty of $ 150. This bill would permit a person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle to pass through a roadway intersection without stopping at a stop sign if the person slows to a reasonable speed, yields to vehicles and pedestrians, and can safely proceed or make a turn. For red lights, bicyclists could proceed after first stopping at the red light and yielding to other traffic and pedestrians, except that the bicyclist cannot make a left-hand turn unless turning left onto a one-way street. We’re confident you can handle the responsibility to look both ways before crossing the street.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−098: Mobile Home Parks
Position: Oppose

Under current law, a mobile home park owner must notify all mobile homeowners, and the city or county government in which the park is located if the owner intends to sell the park or change the use of the land. This bill would require the owner to also provide written notice to the president, secretary, and treasurer of any homeowners’ association or cooperative with certain exceptions. For income tax years commencing on or after January 1, 2018, the bill would subtract from federal taxable income either 50% or 100% of any gains recognized from the sale or exchange of a park but only if the party purchasing the park is a county, municipality, local housing authority, nonprofit corporation, homeowners’ association, or a cooperative. This is another attempt to use tax code to push socio-political agendas.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Property Rights
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−099: National Popular Vote Agreement
Position: Oppose

This bill would eviscerate the state of Colorado’s ability to maintain our representation in the election of the President of the United States, making Colorado “flyover” country and leaving the state subject to the voting whims of highly concentrated population centers, mostly on the east and west coasts.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • States vs. Federal Balance of Power
SupportSB 17−100: Land Stewardship Volunteer Grantee Immunity
Position: Support

This bill would strengthen existing legal protections under the federal ‘Volunteer Protection Act of 1997’ and Colorado’s ‘Volunteer Service Act’ for individual volunteers and nonprofit entities who build or maintain recreational trails and related facilities pursuant to grants received under Colorado’s ‘Recreational Trails System Act of 1971’. The bill establishes either gross negligence or willful and wanton conduct as the minimum basis for liability depending on whether the subject is an individual volunteer, a nonprofit entity, or a director, officer, or trustee of a nonprofit entity. It would also prohibit a grant agreement or procurement contract from requiring a nonprofit entity or volunteer to obtain insurance coverage for liability arising from completed operations, and extends qualified immunity to a volunteer who operates a motor vehicle as part of a land stewardship activity.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
OpposeSB 17−104: Catastrophic Plans in Geographic Rating Areas
Position: Oppose

This bill would require a health insurance carrier to offer and issue a catastrophic health insurance plan to eligible individuals who are under 30 years of age in certain geographic rating areas for a minimum of 3 years. Mandating yet more health care provisions…

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−106: Sunset Registration of Naturopathic Doctors
Position: Oppose

This bill continues the regulation of naturopathic doctors by the director of the division of professions and occupations, which was set to expire on September 1, 2017, for 5 more years. The bill would add requirements that a naturopathic doctor’s insurance carrier reports to the director any malpractice judgments against or settlements entered into by the naturopathic doctor, and that the director must investigate that information and take disciplinary or other action against the doctor as appropriate. The bill would also add naturopathic doctors to the list of persons required to report child abuse or neglect and mistreatment of at-risk elders and at-risk adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The bill basically continues one of the state’s many regulatory schemes. 

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−107: Reward Access to Arts Education in Public Schools
Position: Oppose

Under current law, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) determines the level of attainment of schools and the state as a whole based on four performance indicators: student academic growth, student achievement on statewide assessments, progress made in closing growth and achievement gaps, and postsecondary and workforce readiness. This bill would require the State Board of Education to adopt rules for awarding performance credit to schools and districts for arts offerings. Notably, in determining the amount of additional credit the board must also take into account a district’s or school’s geographic location, and the percentage of enrolled students who qualify for free or reduced price meals. Why?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−108: Sunset Speech-Langauge Pathology Practice Act
Position: Oppose

This bill would extend the automatic repeal date of the regulation of speech-language pathologists by the director of the division of professions and occupations to 2022. Because where would we be without the state to regulate everything?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−109: Industrial Hemp Animal Feed
Position: Support

Currently, it is illegal to sell animal feed that is deemed adulterated. The bill clarifies that a feed is not adulterate merely by the addition, inclusion, or derivation from industrial hemp or an industrial hemp-derived substance. One small step for de-regulation.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−110: Accessibility of Exempt Family Child Care     
Position: Support

This bill ever so slightly deregulates childcare by expanding the circumstances under which an individual can care for children from multiple families for less than 24 hours without obtaining a child care license. Current law exempts from childcare licensure family child care homes receiving one child for less than twenty-four-hour care or receiving two or more children who are related to each other as brother or sister from the same family household for less than twenty-four-hour care or such additional number of children as may be specified by rules promulgated by the state board of human services. This bill would repeal that provision and instead exempt from licensure individuals providing child-care for less than 24 hours if there are no more than four children being cared for (with no more than two children under two years old) from multiple families regardless of the children’s relation to the caregiver or if the children being cared for are related to the caregiver, related to one another but from a family unrelated to the caregiver, or a combination of both.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−111: Medical Marijuana Inventory Shortfall Fixes
Position: Support

The medical marijuana system is a vertically integrated regulatory scheme, meaning a medical marijuana center must grow the marijuana that it sells. There is one exception to the vertically integrated market: a medical marijuana center can sell to or buy from other medical marijuana licensees up to 30% of its inventory. This bill would change the 30% limit to 50%. The bill states that a medical marijuana center may transfer medical marijuana to another medical marijuana licensee if the licensees have a common owner without the medical marijuana counting towards the 50% limit.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−112: Sales & Use Tax Payment to Wrong Local Government
Position: Support

The bill seeks to clarify the general assembly’s intent when it enacted a dispute resolution process in 1985 to address a situation when a taxpayer paid a sales and use tax to one local government when it should have instead paid that disputed amount to a different local government. A recent court case applied the statute of limitations to this dispute resolution process, resulting in the taxpayer having to pay the disputed amount twice to 2 different local governments. The bill specifies that any statutes of limitations, either local, state, or in intergovernmental transfer agreements, do not apply to the remedies set forth in law. In other words, you can’t be legally pinched between two different taxing jurisdictions.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−113: Cap Employer Contribution Rates for PERA Employers
Position: Support

If you work in the private sector, how much does your employer contribute to your social security? Answer – the employer contribution is 6.2% (and the additional employer contribution for Medicare is 1.45%). How much do taxpayers contribute for members of PERA (Public Employees’ Retirement Association)? Answer – our tax money pays 20.15% for state and school employees, 22.85% for state troopers, 17.36% for judges, and 13.70% for local government employees. That’s right, your tax money directly funds those levels of pension contributions in addition to salary, etc. This bill would establish that starting in 2018 the total amounts of taxpayer-funded contributions will climb no higher, protecting taxpayers from increasingly being put on the hook for more.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSB 17−114: Accountability for School Districts & Schools
Position: Oppose

Under existing law, the department of education considers the performance of each school district and the state charter school institute on specified indicators when assigning accreditation categories. The bill creates a new performance indicator that measures the improvement achieved over the preceding 4 school years by a public school, school district, the state charter school institute, and the state as a whole in student scores on state assessments and in closing the achievement and growth gaps. The bill would also repeal the department’s authority to remove a school district’s or the institute’s accreditation based on performance under a priority improvement or turnaround plan and instead directs the commissioner of education must assign the state review panel to critically evaluate the school district’s or institute’s performance and recommend one or more corrective actions. This is watering down any semblance of accountability for state-provided education.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−116: Concealed Handgun Carry without a Permit
Position: Support

This bill would allow a person who legally possesses a handgun under state and federal law to carry a concealed handgun in Colorado. A person who carries a concealed handgun under the authority created in the bill has the same carrying rights and is subject to the same limitations that apply to a person who holds a permit to carry a concealed handgun under current law.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Personal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−117: Recognize Industrial Hemp Agricultural Product for Agricultural Water Right
Position: Support

In Colorado, water subject to a water right may be used for the purpose for which the water is decreed. This bill confirms that a person with an absolute or conditional water right decreed for agricultural use may use the water subject to the water right for the growth or cultivation of industrial hemp if the person is registered by the department of agriculture to grow industrial hemp for commercial or research and development purposes.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Property Rights
OpposeSB 17−118: Information on Private Occupational Schools
Position: Oppose

The bill would expand the information that private occupational schools must provide to prospective students and create an online tool with information about schools and jobs. The additional information that must be provided includes: program completion rates, post-graduation employment rates, average and median student loan debt, loan repayment rates, and legal barriers to entry into an occupation for which the school provides a training program. The Division of Private Occupational Schools in the Department of Higher Education shall collect the data schools are required to provide to prospective students and any other data requested by the department to populate a postsecondary education and training comparative tool. The comparative tool would be a free online resource that contains information including school program costs, school credentials, post-graduation employment earnings, and “information related to selecting a career, including jobs that will be in demand over the next ten years.” Central planning alert!

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−119: Restoration of School District Mill Levies
Position: Oppose

This bill requires each school district that has obtained voter approval to retain and spend revenue in excess of its TABOR limit to restore the district’s total program mill levy, over the course of five years in equal increments, to the number of mills levied in the property tax year immediately preceding the year in which the school district received voter approval.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
Not RatedSB 17−125: Lump-Sum Compensation for Exonerated Persons
Position: Not Rated

The more we do this job, the more statutes we read, and the more we are amazed. For example, did you know that if you are exonerated of a crime, i.e. you’re found innocent after having been convicted and jailed, then when you are released you typically get some compensation for being wrongly incarcerated? The state will only pay up to $ 100,000 per year, so if the compensation amount for which you’re eligible is over $ 100,000, then you will receive payments in annual installments until you have received the entire amount. BUT – the state will not pay you one dime after the first year’s payment until you prove to them that you have completed a financial management course. ALSO, the state will deduct $ 10,000 per year from your annual payments unless you prove that you have health insurance. Because the state – the state that wrongly put you in jail even though you were innocent – knows what’s best for you. But we digress. This bill says that after the first year’s payment, and of course after proving you took a financial management class and that you not only have health insurance but are also committed to maintaining health insurance, then you should be able to get your remaining payments in a lump sum. POL agrees that the state should not withhold payments or string them out over time, and that a lump sum payment option should be available to the exonerated person. Maintaining the nanny-state requirements of financial classes and health insurance are not good, but they are consistent with existing law, so that’s not a deal killer either.

The only real issue is one of financial equivalence. Example: $ 100,000 paid out annually over a period of 5 years (for a total of $ 500,000) is NOT the same thing as $ 100,000 paid out in the first year and $ 400,000 paid out the second year. Any exonerated person who took a financial management class should recognize that the time value of money makes these two scenarios unequal. If the bill had included a reasonable present value calculation so that the two scenarios are financially equivalent, then POL would have been able to conclude the bill supports personal responsibility and fiscal responsibility. As it is, it supports personal responsibility (by allowing the person to take their money now), but violates fiscal responsibility (the state would be giving away money in a losing transaction), therefore it’s a No Rate due to conflicting principles.

SupportSB 17−127: Originator Exemption to Family Members
Position: Support

Under current law, parents who help to finance a child’s mortgage loan are exempt from the mortgage loan originator regulations in state law. The bill expands the exemption to include any family member who helps to finance another family member for up to three loans per year, with or without interest compensation. The Board of Mortgage Loan Originators in the Department of Regulatory Agencies is directed to define “family member” by rule.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−128: Higher Education Behavior Policies
Position: Oppose

This bill creates new criminal activities and gives schools the authority to enforce subjective policies over and above current criminal code.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−130: Sprinkler Fitter Registration Minimum Experience Requirements
Position: Support

Under current law, a person must have performed at least 8,000 hours of practical work experience on fire suppression systems over the previous 5 years to register as a sprinkler fitter. The bill reduces the practical experience required to become registered as a sprinkler fitter slightly to 6,800 hours, making it similar to the practical experience required to become licensed as a journeyman plumber. The bill also removes the provision requiring that those experience hours fall within the previous 5 years. This bill modestly reduces the regulatory burden on sprinkler fitters. Didn’t know that sprinkler fitting needed such intense government oversight, did you?

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−134: Alcohol Beverage Penalty License Application
Position: Support

This bill would limit some fines.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−135: Remove Medical Release Requirement for Animal Chiropractic
Position: Support

Under current law, an animal chiropractor must obtain a veterinary medical clearance from a licensed veterinarian before working on an animal patient even if he is registered with the state board of chiropractic examiners to perform animal chiropractic. This bill would remove the veterinary medical clearance requirement for chiropractors who are registered with the state board as animal chiropractors. The bill would also eliminate the requirement that the veterinarian who give the (previously required) medical clearance to the chiropractor “continue professional collaboration as necessary for the well-being of the animal patient,” altering the statute to simply encourage collaboration between vets and chiropractors with shared patients. This bill marginally loosens state regulation on animal chiropractic practices. An individual at Principles of Liberty has experience with animal chiropractors, and assures us that animal owners are capable of picking out competent chiropractors without government assistance.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−136: Reporting and Limiting Civil Forfeiture
Position: Support

This bill would create transparency and accountability for asset forfeiture.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Property Rights
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
Not RatedSB 17−137: Sunset Health Service Corps Advisory Council
Position: Not Rated

Update 2/21: We were contacted by a legislator regarding this bill as it was being heard in committee. It was brought to my attention that I (Rich) made a mistake on this bill. I incorrectly read this sunset bill to be recommending that the Colorado Health Service Corps Program be continued indefinitely. The bill actually recommends that the Colorado Health Corps Advisory Council be continued indefinitely. The advisory council advises the program. While we don’t believe it is the role of government to have this program in place, this bill doesn’t deal with the program— only the advisory council that oversees it. Should the program be repealed? Yes, but that’s not the question dealt with in this bill. Should oversight of the advisory council be repealed? Not necessarily. With this additional insight, we changed to a No Rate on this bill and let legislators know this before the committee vote occurred. Thank you to those legislators who work with POL to help us make sure that we get it right!

Previous rating: Oppose. Currently, the Colorado health service corps advisory council reviews applications and makes recommendations for participation in the Colorado health service corps program. The program awards educational loan repayment for medical professionals who agree to provide primary health services in federally designated health professional shortage areas in Colorado. This bill would continue the Colorado health service corps advisory council indefinitely. Making government loans to entice supply is not a free market policy.

SupportSB 17−139: Extend Credit for Out-of-State Tobacco Sales
Position: Support

Currently, non-cigarette tobacco products like cigars, chewing tobacco, and loose tobacco are subject to an excise tax equal to 40 percent of the manufacturers’ list price. The tax is assessed at the time when tobacco products are brought into the state and is remitted by distributors. Since September 1, 2015, distributors have been able to claim a credit against the tobacco excise tax equal to excise taxes paid on products sold to out-of-state consumers. This credit helps protect businesses from being forced to collect tax on a single product on behalf of multiple states. This tax credit is scheduled to end on September 1, 2018. This bill would indefinitely extend the credit. POL supported this bill when it passed on a bipartisan basis in 2015 on a vote of 59-5-1 in the House and a vote of 25-10-0 in the Senate. Basically, this would continue to reduce a layer of “sin” tax, and reducing a layer of tax enables Colorado retailers to better compete at the retail level in other states.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSB 17−142: Breast Density Notification Required
Position: Oppose

This bill would require that each mammography report provided to a patient include information that identifies the patient’s breast tissue classification based on the breast imaging reporting and data system established by the American college of radiology. If the health care facility that performed the mammography determines that a patient has dense breast tissue, the facility is required to notify the patient of the determination using specific language. This law is needed because… healthcare providers most likely don’t have patients’ best interests at heart and need detailed government mandates regarding how to perform their jobs?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−146: Access to Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
Position: Oppose

This bill expands access to the electronic prescription drug monitoring program. It would allow a health care provider who has authority to prescribe controlled substances, or a provider’s designee, to query the program regarding a current patient regardless of whether the provider is prescribing or considering prescribing a controlled substance to that patient. The bill also specifies that a veterinarian who is authorized to prescribe controlled substances may access the program to inquire about a current patient or client if the veterinarian suspects that the client has committed drug abuse or mistreated an animal. The bill also specifies that in addition to accessing the program when dispensing or considering dispensing a controlled substance, a pharmacist or designee of the pharmacist may access the program regarding a current patient to whom the pharmacist is dispensing or considering dispensing a prescription drug. This broadens the power to invade individual privacy.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−149: Multiple Methods for Receipt of Income Tax Refunds
Position: Oppose

This bill would facilitate something that people can already do without the government’s help. Currently, a taxpayer may opt to receive his or her income tax refund in the form of a check, or may elect to have his or her income tax refund directly deposited into one of the following: a savings account, a checking account, or a college savings account administered by CollegeInvest (a division of the Colorado department of higher education). This bill requires the department of revenue to provide a taxpayer the opportunity to apportion his or her income tax refund among up to 4 such methods. While you absolutely have a right to utilize your hard earned money however you wish once the government finally returns it, we’re confident you can handle apportioning it without the government’s help. This bill was run as HB16-1371 last year. The only difference in the bill this year is that the fiscal note on HB16-1371 noted that implementing the bill would cost approximately $ 100,000 in state funds the following year, and decreasing 5 digit expenditures in subsequent years. This bill does not provide a fiscal note so we’re holding off on rating this as opposing the principle of fiscal responsibility for now, but the bill still opposes personal responsibility and limited government.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−151: Consumer Access to Health Care
Position: Oppose

This bill imposes new mandates on health insurance carriers or intermediaries that conduct credentialing, utilization management, or utilization review. The bill also prohibits an intermediary from requiring coverage authorization or a medical necessity determination prior to the evaluation and management services provided by a health care provider to a policyholder during an initial health care visit, and prohibits a carrier from creating incentives to reduce or deny coverage authorizations or medical necessity determinations.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−153: Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission
Position: Oppose

This bill replaces the Southwest Chief Rail Line Economic Development, Rural Tourism, and Infrastructure Repair and Maintenance Commission –which was set to repeal on July 1, 2017– with the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission. The Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission would assume the powers and duties of the old commission and will also draft legislation that facilitates the development of a passenger rail system that provides service in and along the I-25 corridor. Expanding AmTrak? Never mind the problems with existing roads and bridges…

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−158: Modify Composition Of PERA Public Employees’ Retirement Association Board Of Trustees
Position: Support

This bill would modify the composition of the 16-member Colorado Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) Board of Trustees by eliminating one State Division trustee position and two School Division trustee positions, requiring at least one elected member from both the State and School Divisions to be at least 20 years from retirement eligibility, and adding three additional pension experts. These experts would be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate who are not PERA members or retirees. This puts some people on the PERA board who do not directly benefit from the decisions that they make for PERA.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−178: Marijuana Use as a Condition of Bond
Position: Support

This bill would prohibit a court from imposing a ban on marijuana use as a bond condition on a person who possesses a valid medical marijuana registry ID card. If you have a legal medical reason for using marijuana, then the court can’t deny that to you as a condition of bond. Pretty simple.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−179: Fee Limits for Solar Energy Device Installations
Position: Support

This bill would extend the repeal date of existing laws that limit the amount of permit, plan review, or other fees that counties, municipalities, or the state may charge for you to install solar energy devices or systems. The bill also clarifies that the statutory limitations on the amount of fees applies to any related or associated fees, not just to permit or plan review fees. Limiting government fees associated with licensing that’s questionable in the first place? Ok.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSB 17−180: Public Utilities Commission Streamlined Enforcement of Motor Carriers
Position: Oppose

This bill makes it easier for the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to impose penalties related to motor carrier violations. The bill mandates that the PUC immediately revoke a permit and disqualify that carrier from applying for a permit for 3 years if a penalty is not paid on time. The PUC already has the option to do this under current law. The bill also increases the length of time during which penalties may be doubled or tripled for multiple infractions. These seem to be very heavy-handed mandates for increased regulation and enforcement when the PUC already has the option to do most of these things now. What’s stopping the PUC, who is not shy about regulating, from doing those things now? Could it be… due process?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−183: Support USS Colorado Commissioning
Position: Oppose

The USS Colorado is a nuclear attack submarine set to be commissioned in 2017. This bill would require the state of Colorado (that’s us) to make grants to help pay for expenses related to the commissioning of the USS Colorado, to promote awareness about the sub within the state, and to support the USS Colorado crew. The bill gives the department a $ 200,000 appropriation to use for these grants in 2017-2018. National defense is the purview of the federal government and is funded by Coloradans through their federal tax dollars. Spending Colorado state tax dollars on national defense is fiscally irresponsible and not the proper role of state government.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • States vs. Federal Balance of Power
OpposeSB 17−184: Private Marijuana Clubs Open & Public Use
Position: Oppose

This bill makes it so that marijuana clubs (places where you could go smoke pot) can only operate if a locality adopts an ordinance or resolution authorizing such clubs to operate. The bill specifies certain requirements for clubs including that the club can’t sell marijuana products (some clubs would prefer to sell their own product because they know where it comes from), can’t allow the sale/exchange of marijuana on the premises, can’t sell food or alcohol, and that employees must be Colorado residents. The bill also outlines a definition of the “open and public” consumption of marijuana, which is currently prohibited by state law and the Colorado Constitution but not defined in statute, but authorizes localities to create local definitions of “open and public” that are stricter than the definition created by the bill or to carve out exceptions to the prohibitions in the state’s definition. According to committee testimony there are currently over 20 marijuana clubs already in operation in Colorado. These business owners have put thousands of dollars into their clubs to comply with existing state/local regulations and get their businesses up and running. This bill would force some owners to alter their business models in addition to dictating the terms of their operation –if localities decide to allow the businesses to continue operation at all– a clear violation of free markets and limited government. Note: empowering localities to regulate or even ban private industry is not “local control,” it’s a violation of a free market and an expansion of (albeit, local) government.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−188: Repeal Income Tax Credit Innovative Motor Vehicles
Position: Support

Starting in 2018, this bill would repeal the (five-figure, for some vehicles!) income tax credits available to people who purchase or lease “innovative motor vehicles” as well as the income tax credits for leasing or purchasing “innovative trucks.” Understand that a tax credit means a dollar for dollar reduction in your tax bill. This is not a deduction to your income before you calculate your tax liability. This is a tax credit against whatever taxes you owe. If you make $ 100,000 of taxable income in Colorado, and your Colorado income tax bill is 4.63% x $ 100,000, then you’ll owe $ 4,630 in state income tax (not to mention, for a single person, your $ 21,000 of federal tax, your $ 6,200 social security tax, your $ 1,450 Medicare tax, your employer’s same amounts that they pay for you into social security and Medicare, your property taxes, your sales taxes, your gas taxes, your FASTER Fees, and I’m sure I’ve missed a few…) But don’t worry – go out and buy a Tesla, and you get to write $ 5,000 off of your Colorado tax. That’s right – you’d pay nothing in Colorado income tax. And you get to pat yourself on the back for saving the planet, too. A $ 5,000 tax credit would completely wipe out the state income tax liability of someone who makes $ 100,000.

This bill proposes to stop giving away that tax credit to people (who, uh, already have the bucks to buy high priced “innovative” motor vehicles). Since this would mean that the state would actually collect that tax money instead of giving certain people this generous tax credit, it qualifies as an increase in revenue for the state. Since this would result in more money for the state, TABOR says that it would have to be put to a vote of the people on the ballot. So, passing this bill doesn’t even mean that the tax credit will for sure go away. It just means that you’d get to vote in November on whether or not you want it to go away. If you vote for it, then the state would have to put the additional money into the Highway Users Tax Fund – you know, for roads and bridges, instead of $ 5,000 coupons for Teslas (nothing against Teslas – they are very cool cars – they just don’t put you in a group that deserves tax credits more than everyone else with (not?) cool cars).

Offering income tax credits to people who purchase vehicles “blessed” by the state is not the role of government – it violates the principle of letting a free market determine prices, supply and demand. Using tax policy in an attempt to advance social/political agendas is not the role of government.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−189: Consumer Options in Fingerprint Background Checks
Position: Support

This bill would allow third parties approved by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to process fingerprints for people who are required to obtain fingerprint-based background checks due to their professions. This bill allows for more options for individuals who have to get printed, slightly loosening dependence on government to provide these services and allowing private organizations to help fill the market need.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−190: Insurance Carrier Fees Noncovered Dental Services
Position: Oppose

This bill would prohibit a contract between a carrier and a dentist from requiring a dentist to provide services to a covered person at a fee set by, or subject to the approval of, the carrier unless the services are covered services under the person’s policy and the carrier provides payment for the service under the person’s policy in an amount that is reasonable and not nominal or de minimis. The bill authorizes a dentist to charge a covered person for non-covered items or services in any amount determined by the dentist and agreed to by the patient if the amount is equal to, or less than, the usual and customary amount that the dentist charges individuals who are not enrolled for such items and services. Once again, legislature wants to dictate the terms of contract in private markets. Most people agree that government intervention is what has created market problems in healthcare. Why do we keep trying to fix government created problems with more government?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−191: Market-Based Interest Rates on Judgments
Position: Support

Post-judgment interest is a rate of interest applied between the date of a court’s award to the date payment is received. Under current law, the rate is 2% over the Kansas City discount rate, with a minimum of 8% percent. The current rate for personal injury damages caused by a tort is 9% percent. This bill would eliminate the 8% floor and tie the latter interest rate to the current rate of post-judgment interest.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−192: Marijuana Business Efficiency Measures
Position: Support

This bill would allow a medical marijuana center and a retail marijuana store to apply for an endorsement that allows the center or store to deliver marijuana. The bill also allows the state licensing authority to authorize single-instance transfers of retail marijuana or retail marijuana products from a retail marijuana licensee to a medical marijuana licensee based on a business need due to a change in local, state, or federal law or enforcement policy. Royal Crest for your dairy, wine clubs for your wine, beer clubs for your beer, some grocery stores are doing grocery deliveries, we have endless fast food delivery options, and now… MMJ and MJ delivery. Let the free market work, people.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
OpposeSB 17−193: Research Ctr Prevention Substance Abuse Addiction
Position: Oppose

This bill would establish “the center for research into prevention strategies for, and treatment of, abuse of and addiction to opioids, other controlled substances, and alcohol” (center) at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. The center’s mission is to “establish or expand programs for research concerning abuse of and addiction to opioids, other controlled substances, and alcohol,” “establish or expand innovative treatments for the abuse of and addition to opioids, other controlled substances, and alcohol,” “expand existing partnerships with national organizations with similar missions,” and “seek federal and private resources to further the center’s activities.” The bill makes a $ 1 million appropriation to the Department of Higher Education for use by the regents of the University of Colorado in order to implement these provisions. Because the role of government is to take everyone’s tax money and apply some of it to helping select groups of people deal with the consequences of their choices, said POL never.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−200: Reward Excellence with Annual Redirected Dollars
Position: Support

This is an interesting bill that is designed to incorporate some competition into the government school system. We certainly agree with this bill’s statement that, “Competition is good in a market economy.” While some might argue whether we have much of a free market these days, we like the sentiment. Some schools perform better than others for a wide variety of reasons. In a perversion of incentive, the state often pours more money into failing schools as if funding is the only answer and will magically change performance. Many studies have clearly made the case that more money does not generate better results. Instead of continuing to blindly reward poor performance with more funding, what if some funding was used, just the tiniest bit, as an incentive for good performance? This bill, in a nutshell, would take 1% of school funding and tie it to performance. Rewarding excellence instead of failure? A capital idea.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
OpposeSB 17−204: Improper Denial of Property & Casualty Claims
Position: Oppose

Under current law, a first-party claimant is defined as an individual, corporation, association, partnership, or other legal entity asserting an entitlement to benefits owed directly to or on behalf of a person insured under the policy, including a public entity that has paid a claim for benefits due to an insurer’s unreasonable delay or denial of a claim. A first-party claimant whose claim for payment of benefits has been unreasonably delayed or denied may sue to recover attorney fees, court costs, and two times the covered benefit. The bill modifies the definition of first-party claimant to exclude an individual, corporation, association, partnership, or other legal entity acting on behalf of an insured person, with exceptions for claims under health coverage plans. The bill also specifies certain notice requirements for first-party claimants.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Property Rights
  • Free Markets
OpposeSB 17−205: Multimodal Transportation Infrastruture Funding
Position: Oppose

This bill requires the Transportation Commission to submit a ballot question within the next three years asking voters to authorize billion in Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs Bonds) and an 8.6% increase in the state sales and use tax from 2.9% to 3.15% to pay off the bonds. If approved, this would allow the state to borrow up to billion to accelerate construction of transportation projects. It must be paid back in 20 years with a total repayment cost capped at .75 billion. At least 0 million of the TRANs proceeds must be used to extend passenger rail service along the I-25 corridor. Remaining TRANs proceeds must be used to pay for transportation projects on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) priority list. The additional sales tax revenue would be credited to the Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF) and paid to the State Highway Fund (SHF) to repay the bonds and fund state transportation projects, but some of the incremental increase in tax revenue would also incidentally increase the Marijuana Cash Tax Fund, the Aviation Fund, and three regional tourism projects that use TIF financing. This bill is a somewhat straightforward/honest approach – it proposes to increase sales taxes to fund bonds, and the money would go to transit, roads, and a few additional things. The challenge is that this tax increase would impact the entire state, but the benefits would be heavily skewed toward the front-range I25 corridor vs. the rest of the state. In addition, lumping together transit and roads gives voters a package deal. Transit projects have been a black hole of over-budget, under-delivering projects that short change rural Colorado to boot. Why not let voters decide what they want to pay for instead of jamming both together?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−206: Out-of-network Providers Payments Patient Notice
Position: Oppose

This bill is long and complicated, but in short it adds additional government mandates to the health insurance industry in pursuit of the idea that everyone is entitled to health care coverage—even if it’s at someone else’s expense. Under current law, when a health care provider who is not under a contract with a particular health insurer renders health care services to a person covered under a health benefit plan at a facility that is part of the provider network under the plan, the health insurer is required to cover the services of the out-of-network provider at the in-network benefit level and at no greater cost to the covered person than if the services were provided by an in-network provider. This bill outlines how health insurers must calculate the amount they have to pay the care provider and requires the health insurer to pay the out-of-network provider directly— because once government requires businesses how to do things, it has to promulgate in ever-increasing detail how the businesses must do them since the businesses (naturally) try to find ways around these mandates. The bill also requires the facility where a covered person will receive a health care procedure or treatment, the health insurer, and the provider who provides health care services to a covered person to provide disclosures to the patient on what exactly they’re required to pay and to whom.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−207: Strengthen CO Behavioral Health Crisis System
Position: Oppose

This bill would expand the state’s current role as central planner regarding “behavioral health crisis.” Among other things the bill encourages crisis system contractors in each region to develop partnerships with crisis intervention services in the region, requires crisis system contractors to be responsible for community engagement, and requires that all walk-in centers throughout the state be appropriately designated, adequately prepared, and properly staffed to accept an individual in need of an emergency 72-hour mental health hold by January 1, 2018. The bill also removes language from statute that allows, at any time for any reason, an individual who is being held on an emergency 72-hour mental health hold to be detained or housed in a jail, lockup, or other place used for the confinement of persons charged with or convicted of criminal offenses. POL opposed the creation of this system, instituted by SB13-266, as a massive expansion of government. We continue to rate this program as exceeding the proper role of government.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−208: Machine Tool Sales Tax Exempt Construction Material Mine
Position: Oppose

Under current law, purchases of machinery or machine tools used for manufacturing in Colorado are exempt from state sales and use tax. This bill would expand the definition of “manufacturing” so that more types of machinery and machine tools would fall under this exemption. While we dislike taxes too, it’s an unequal application of the law for the state to exempt certain industries, goods, or services from what should be uniform tax policy. This bill doesn’t make a favorable systemic change in tax policy for everyone, but instead expands the list of winners/losers in the tax exemption game.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Equal Protection/Rule of Law
OpposeSB 17−210: Motor Vehicle Manufacturer and Distributor Stop-sale
Position: Oppose

The term “Stop-sale” refers to a directive to prohibit the sale of a motor vehicle due to a safety defect. Federal law prohibits the sale of new vehicles if a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues a “stop-sale” directive. However, federal law does not prohibit the sale of used vehicles that fall under a stop-sale directive. This bill would require a manufacturer or distributor that issues a stop-sale directive to either reimburse certain dealers at a specified rate for used vehicles they are trying to sell that are of the type specified by the stop-sale directive, or to provide the dealers with another remedy (such as parts to fix the problem). The bill explicitly states that in order for a vehicle to be sold as “certified pre-owned”, manufacturers may still require a vehicle to be clear of any stop-sale directives. The bill also states that manufacturers/distributors can agree to reimbursement contract terms that are different from the ones specified in the bill. This causes us to ask the question… if the bill recognizes that this issue can be dealt with through voluntary private contracts that are different from the statute, then why are we even creating statute on this topic?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−215: Sunset Licensed Real Estate Brokers & Subdivision Developers
Position: Oppose

Currently the licensure of real estate brokers is scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2017. This bill extends that sunset in addition to creating a new law requiring brokers that also want to work as property managers to get a special endorsement on their license from the Real Estate Commission. In order to get this stamp of approval, you must take “approved” property management classes including record-keeping and trust-management classes. Naturally, you must also complete continuing education on property management in order to keep your license endorsement since apparently actual experience successfully managing properties for owners (and their ability to fire you if you’re not doing so successfully) isn’t sufficient. The bill also creates new requirements for employing brokers and incorporates the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 into state statute.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−216: Sunset Continue Fair Debt Collections Act
Position: Oppose

Overall, POL is not crazy about continuing regulation, but we realize that not everything can sunset in one fell swoop. This bill is fairly minimal and would be a “No Rate” for POL if it weren’t making Colorado laws directly dictated by federal laws. This bill continues a new trend we’re beginning to see this year: incorporating federal statute into Colorado Revised Statutes. As we’ve stated in other bill analyses, “Why should Colorado incorporate federal statutes wholesale into state law? If the state requires a law to protect rights of its citizens, it should add the necessary laws into existing state statute rather than incorporating references to federal statutes that could later be modified in a way that’s not good for Colorado citizens. There’s a reason we have both a state and a federal government—the federalist system is instrumental in safeguarding the liberty of citizens.”

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • States vs. Federal Balance of Power
OpposeSB 17−218: Sunset Continue Licensing Of Landscape Architects
Position: Oppose

Let’s start out by reading the legislative declaration found in the article regulating landscape artists: “The general assembly hereby finds and declares that the regulatory authority established in this article is necessary to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Colorado by preventing the improper design of public domain landscape infrastructure by unauthorized, unqualified, and incompetent persons.” You’d think that with state regulations like these aimed at eradicating incompetence, we wouldn’t run into so many incompetent people on a regular basis… but we digress. The legislature began regulating landscape artists (the ones doing public projects, not small residential ones) in 2007. How Colorado made it so long without such crucial regulations is still a mystery, but these regulations are scheduled to automatically expire on July 1, 2017. This bill would extend the current regulations until 2028. The bill would also transfer the licensing and enforcement authority currently exercised by the State Board of Landscape Architects to the Director of the Division of Professions and Occupations.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−232: Sunset Bingo-raffle Advisory Board
Position: Oppose

You may not know this, but the dangerous pastime of bingo is heavily regulated by the state of Colorado. The Secretary of State’s Office issues licenses to qualified organizations to conduct bingo and raffle games, as well as to landlords of commercial bingo facilities, manufacturers of bingo-raffle supplies and equipment, and suppliers who distribute bingo-raffle supplies and equipment. Because, public safety (not to mention, revenue). This bill would continue the Bingo-Raffle Advisory Board and the regulation of bingo, raffle, and other games by the Secretary of State’s Office through September 1, 2026. In a revealing display of the absolute necessity of bingo regulation by the government, the board that has had the responsibility of overseeing bingo and raffles is required by law to meet 6 times per year… but they’ve only met only 3 times in the last 3 years (that would be 3/18 allegedly “required” meetings), which include a grand total of zero meetings in 2016. Oops. This bill would reduce the number of statutorily required board meetings to 2 per year (the much lower bar is still high relative to past performance), specify that a person convicted of a misdemeanor related to gambling or any felony offense is not eligible for certification as a games manager, caller, or caller assistant, and prohibit a person convicted of any felony/theft by deception/gambling-related offense fewer than ten years ago from obtaining a landlord, manufacturer, or supplier license. Not to worry though, the bill would make an exception to allow people convicted of a felony/theft by deception/gambling-related offense more than ten years ago to apply for one of those licenses as long as the conviction is disclosed in their application. How about actually just letting this regulatory regime sunset?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−235: Pilot Project Seaplanes Land in State Parks
Position: Support

Current Division of Parks and Wildlife rules prohibit seaplanes from landing in or taking off from state park bodies of water. This bill would create a pilot project to allow amphibious seaplanes to land in at least two state parks subject to certain specifications including that the seaplanes have been inspected for and decontaminated of aquatic nuisance species, among others. The Parks and Wildlife Commission may adopt rules to implement the pilot program. POL supported a similar bill that contained less hoops for seaplane folks last year. Apparently that one contained too much freedom for folks to handle, so this is a toned-down version of that bill. Nevertheless, it’s a step in the direction of liberty by opening up the opportunity for seaplane pilots to do something they can’t do right now.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−237: Age of Employees Serving Alcohol on Premises
Position: Support

Current law prohibits a liquor-licensed tavern or lodging and entertainment facility from letting employees who are under 21 years of age sell alcohol. So if you’re an 18 year old waiter in a tavern, you can’t serve alcohol. This bill would allow establishments to set their own policies and allow employees who are at least 18 years old to sell alcohol, provided the taverns or lodging and entertainment facilities regularly serve meals, as long as they’re supervised by someone 21 or older. This is a positive step for limited government.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−238: Notifications Regarding Online Purchases
Position: Support

Under current law, you’re supposed to pay tax to the state for online purchasers. If the out-of-state retailer you purchase from doesn’t “voluntarily” collect sales tax for the state of Colorado, you’re supposed to keep track of how much sales tax you owe the state for yourself. Yay. One of the things the state does to “help” you with this is requiring retailers that don’t collect Colorado sales tax to send you a notification that includes the total amount you paid that retailer in the previous calendar year. Currently, retailers are required to send those notifications to you by snail mail. This bill would instead require them to send the notice to the email address you used to conduct the purchase (in our opinion easier to keep track of, and less expensive for businesses). Current law also requires retailers that don’t collect Colorado sales tax to send the Department of Revenue a notice for each Colorado purchaser (you) that specifies the total amount you paid them—presumably so they can nail you on whether or not you’re voluntarily paying your taxes later. This bill would repeal that notification requirement.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−243: Continue Motorcycle Operator Safety Training Program
Position: Oppose

This bill would continue the Motorcycle Operator Safety Program (MOST) until 2020. According to C.R.S. the program “promotes motorcycle safety awareness and supports courses to teach students to safely operate a motorcycle and train instructors.” MOST is funded by a surcharge for a motorcycle endorsement on driver licenses and a surcharge on the registration of a motorcycle. CDOT administers the program, and uses the funds to contract for motorcycle training programs and do PR related to motorcycle safety. Drop the mandatory surcharges, the state program, and let riders decide what safety classes to take or not take.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−245: Tenancies of One Month To One Year Notice
Position: Oppose

This is one of those tough situations where the “rubber meets the road” for principle-based legislative analysis. Currently, a tenancy between 1 and 6 months may be terminated by either party with 7 days’ notice. This bill would extend the required notice to 21 days. The bill would also require 21 days’ notice for a landlord to increase rent for tenancies of 1 to 12 months. We think it would generally be pretty cold to give someone who is on a month-to-month lease only 7 days’ notice to get out of your rental property. However, property rights and personal responsibility mean that both renter and tenant have to understand the terms of their agreement. Property owners have dominion over their property, who can use it, and when they can use it. Prudent renters should choose their landlord carefully, and make sure they’re comfortable with the terms of their lease. This bill dictates the terms of contract between renters and property owners.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Property Rights
  • Free Markets
OpposeSB 17−248: Modify Previously Approved Regional Tourism Project
Position: Oppose

The Regional Tourism Act is a financing mechanism that allows local governments to apply for state sales tax increment financing, or TIF financing, for tourism-related capital improvement projects. The improvements are paid for from bond proceeds that are repaid by any growth in sales tax revenue supposedly generated from the project. Local governments apply to the commission for this corporate welfare program. If the commission approves the proposal, the commission determines how much taxpayer funded money to dole out to the project. In short, this is your basic corporate welfare program. But that’s already on the books as law. This bill would allow a local government participating in an approved regional tourism project to modify a previously approved project if a component of the project is no longer viable. So what’s going on? Essentially some of these projects are such bad investments that there are no developers willing to do these projects, even with tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Yikes. This bill says no problem, local governments: you can just whip up a new project with new developers because we sure don’t want all that money the state (stupidly) approved you to use to go back to the state – we need to make sure it continues to flow our way!

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−250: Student Exemption from Immunization Requirements
Position: Support

Under current law, a student may be exempted from the immunization requirements for school attendance under either a medical or personal belief exemption. This bill specifies that a certification of a medical exemption submitted by a physician or advanced practice nurse or a statement of a personal belief exemption submitted by a parent, guardian, or emancipated student can be in letter form and that a form furnished by the Department of Public Health and Environment or the State Board of Health is not necessary. Accordingly, the bill also clarifies the rulemaking authority of the State Board of Health concerning the frequency that exemptions are submitted rather than the frequency that exemption forms are submitted.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−253: Alcohol Manufacturer Customer Sales
Position: Support

Currently, a wholesaler brewery can conduct tastings and sell its alcohol only at its licensed premises. A spirits distillery or winery can sell its alcohol at its licensed premises, and from 1 additional “approved” sales room at no additional cost. This bill would permit both types of licensees to operate up to 2 additional sales rooms at no additional cost. Current law also authorizes the state licensing authority to specify, by rule, the time by which a local licensing authority must submit a response to an application to operate a temporary sales room for not more than 3 days. The bill applies this standard to a brewery.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−267: Sustainability Of Rural Colorado
Position: Oppose

This bill is not for the faint of heart. This is a big, complicated piece of legislation that deals with some complicated concepts with respect to: Colorado’s Constitution, Colorado’s Budget, TABOR, Enterprises, Fees, Taxes, Health Care Expenses and Eligibility, Debt vs. Not debt, Certificates of Participation (COP’s), State Highway Funding, Education Funding, Capital Construction, and some other things. Analyzing bills like this are why we get paid the big bucks (that’s a joke – we don’t get paid, we are a highly under-funded 501c3 that receives very little in donations, but feel free to remedy that situation any time!)

In order to try to put this into a format that might give you a chance to see conceptually how this bill works, I’ve drawn a diagram. Granted, it’s a somewhat complicated diagram, but it’s about as simple as I can make it while hitting the highlights.

It will probably be very hard for you to tell the “Black” ink from the “Blue” ink from the “Red” ink, but let’s give it a shot. The Black ink shows existing things. The Blue ink shows what would go away, which is the current hospital provider fee on upper/right quadrant of the diagram. The Red ink shows what would be added, which is the hospital provider fee enterprise on upper/left quadrant of the diagram.

The numbers in the Colorado budget “house” in the diagram are from Office of the State Controller for 2014-2015, which is the most recent audited data I could come up with. The actual amounts aren’t the point, so don’t get worked up over the details. The amounts are close enough to illustrate the concepts, and they are proportional to today’s actual data.

The little “house” in the middle of the diagram shows two halves: one half has a peaked roof over it, and one half doesn’t. The roof represents TABOR. So the part of the budget “house” picture under the roof is protected by TABOR and the part of the “house” on the left is not. Today only about 37% of Colorado’s budget is protected/covered by TABOR.

The current Hospital Provider Fee concept is shown in the upper/right quarter of the page in Blue ink. The proposed Hospital Provider Fee Enterprise concept is shown in the upper left quarter of the page in Red ink. The Enterprise on the upper left would be a repeal/replace for the existing fee structure on the upper right. It would work pretty much the same way (except for the expansion of medical benefits). But notice in the diagram that it would take almost a billion dollars out from under that part of the state budget which is protected by TABOR and put it into the unprotected part of the Colorado budget. To be fair, the TABOR cap would be reduced by the same amount – which is required by the constitution.

Hospital Provider Fee Concept

The hospital provider fee concept, simplified, works like this: Hospitals charge paying customers a fee. The current law is literally written so that the hospitals are not permitted to show you how much of a fee they charge you as a line item on your bill. That hidden fee would continue under this bill as well. The state collects all those fees, and projects about $ 673,000,000 of them this year due to budget cuts (there were previously over $ 800 million budgeted for this year). The state then tells the Federal Government, “Hey, I collected $ 673,000,000!” The Federal Government says, “Great, we’ll match that!” And the Federal Government sends $ 673,000,000 to Colorado. Now Colorado has doubled its money and has $ 1,346,000,000. That’s $ 1.346 billion dollars. The state then turns around and gives that money right back to the hospitals. But, the state redistributes that money to the hospitals unevenly – it gives some hospitals much more than others. Hospitals with lots of non-paying patients and rural hospitals get much more money proportionally than what they put in when compared to hospitals that have actual paying customers. So paying customers and the Federal Government fund hospitals with poor patients, and rural hospitals.

This bill would make the entire Hospital Provider Fee game into an “Enterprise”. That would mean that 1) the money is no longer in the part of the budget subject to TABOR, and 2) the Enterprise can raise the fees as its board sees fit.

It wouldn’t qualify as an exemption from TABOR if the state transformed the existing Hospital Provider Fee scheme into an enterprise, so this bill technically eliminates the old fee and institutes a new fee (wink, wink). Never mind that the new board for the Enterprise is the exact same board as the current board for the Hospital Provider Fee (“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” – The Who).

In addition, the “new” enterprise would be charged with doing the following things:

  • Maximize hospital reimbursements
  • Increase indigent care to 100% of costs
  • Pay “Quality Incentives”
  • Expand public assistance eligibility
  • Fund new programs to get people enrolled for state benefits
  • Reduce # of uninsured people
  • Reduce # of people without health care benefits
  • Increase # of people covered by public medical assistance
  • Exempts the Enterprise from the state’s “procurement code”

If some of the things in that list above seems redundant, it is. But that’s what’s in the bill. This expansion of state funded health care is a major part of our analysis that the bill opposes limited government and fiscal responsibility.

Finally, keep in mind that the legislature, just this year in the budget process, had to balance the state budget. One of the things that they did was to reduce the hospital provider fee by over $ 200mm to stay on budget with the growth of government allowed under TABOR (so that’s not a budget cut, it’s just a reduction in the budget’s growth). It’s convenient that this would happen in a year where the hospital provider fee has been reduced, so that the reduction to the TABOR cap would be less by that much. What do you think will happen as soon as the Hospital Provider Fee becomes an Enterprise, exempt from TABOR, and with a board that can set the fees? You say that the fees will go up? Smart reader!

Other challenges we see with the bill:

The fact that this bill moves 6%-7% of the budget that’s currently under TABOR out from under TABOR is a challenge.

You’ll see that the bill sends about $ 400mm to schools over 3 years, but then that money stream stops. Multiple Choice Quiz Time: What will happen then? A) Schools will be prepared for that since they know this income is only a temporary three-year deal, or B) Three years from now schools will cry that the sky is falling because their funding is being CUT by $ 160mm, and how DARE you continue to cut funding! The Great Carnac the Magnificent says that the answer is B (ok, I’ve dated myself).

The bill specifically uses controversial sale/leaseback and Certificates of Participation (COP’s) to get around TABOR restrictions on issuing debt (which requires a vote of the people). COP’s “don’t count” as debt because: the court says so. But not to worry, the bill asserts over and over again that this isn’t a violation of TABOR. Just the sheer amount of verbiage throughout the bill asserting that this bill does not violate TABOR should be concerning. 

The bill uses questionable maneuvering to eliminate the current fee and replace it with a “new” fee to get around the fact that TABOR says you can’t enterprise existing fee scheme.

Roads get $ 701mm, schools get $ 400mm, and capital construction gets $ 150mm. So this isn’t really a bill for “Roads and bridges”, or “Schools”, or “Capital Construction”. It’s an omnibus bill, a hodge-podge of moving parts and pieces, all of which are heavily skewed toward “rural” counties of 50,000 or less (hence the bill title, which is honest in that regard).

The bill does tell state government departments to submit budgets next year reflecting cuts of 2% in their budgets, and it encourages the Office of State Budgeting and Planning to “strongly consider” those cuts.

I will say that the bill is creative, doesn’t raise taxes (but will result in increased fees as sure as the sun rises in the east), and generates lots of “shiny” things for various “stakeholders” to see. However, at this point POL is rating the bill as opposing the principles of Fiscal Responsibility and Limited Government based upon the expanded health care provisions, the setting up of almost certain increases in hospital fees going forward, the weakening of TABOR by making it applicable to less of the budget than ever (would take it down to about 1/3), temporary flows to education that will stop (but won’t be planned for), and the use of gimmicks to circumvent TABOR with respect to debt and Enterprises.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−268: Pharmacy Technician Supervision Ratio
Position: Support

Under current law, a pharmacist may supervise no more than 3 pharmacy technicians at a time. This bipartisan bill would remove that limitation. Sweet!

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−269: Retail Liquor Store Sales Revenue Nonalcohol Goods
Position: Support

Under current law, a licensed retail liquor store may receive no more than 20 percent of its annual gross revenues from the sale of non-alcohol products. Regulations like these crop up as the state regulates everyone into their own respective corners, telling people what they can and can’t sell under their particular license. This bill would exclude revenues from the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, nicotine products, and lottery products from the calculation of gross revenue from the sale of nonalcohol products as it applies to the 20% cap. While in a perfect world none of this regulation would exist, this change would give a little bit more freedom to retail liquor store owners who want to sell nonalcohol products. In the words of a smart intern: “Stores should have the right to sell what they want, in as great a quantity as they want, without government enforcing needless regulations.”

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−273: Manufacturer’s List Price for Tobacco Products Tax
Position: Support

The total tax on tobacco products is 40% of the manufacturer’s list price, which is based on a manufacturer’s or supplier’s invoice price to a distributor. This bill would permit a distributor to use the price that the tobacco product is sold to the first importer of record or first manufacturer of record as the manufacturer’s list price, if the distributor is able to provide the department of revenue with evidence of this price.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSB 17−274: Nonadmitted Insurers Disability Surplus Lines Insurance
Position: Support

Current law allows “nonadmitted insurers” to offer only property and casualty insurance as types of surplus lines insurance. An “admitted insurer” has been specifically approved for operation by the Division of Insurance, must comply with all state regulations, and their products are generally insured to some extent by the state guaranty fund in the event that the insurer goes bankrupt. A non-admitted insurer is generally allowed to sell certain products under a “surplus lines license.” A non-admitted insurer selling surplus lines generally provides insurance coverage products that admitted companies do not sell in the state. This bill would allow nonadmitted insurers to now offer disability insurance as a type of surplus lines insurance. Basically, this bill would allow more consumer choice when it comes to buying disability insurance.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
SupportSB 17−276: Alleviate Fiscal Impact State Rules Small Business
Position: Support

This bill is essentially the same as SB17-001, which we rated as supporting the principle of limited government. Same bill, same rating.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSB 17−280: Extending the Economic Development Commission
Position: Oppose

This bill would allow the Economic Development Commission to continue until 2025 (and realistically, forever). At the beginning on the statutes on the Economic Development Commission, there is a legislative declaration stating: “it is in the best interests of the people of this state that measures be taken to encourage, promote, and stimulate economic development and employment in Colorado.” We could really just drop the mic here and walk away, but for those of you who are either new to reading our reports or to the concepts of limited government and free markets, it is neither feasible nor the role of government for the state to attempt to “stimulate economic development in Colorado” by taking taxpayer money and redistributing it to others for the benefit of themselves, their company, or their industry. This commission epitomizes the philosophy of central planning and crony corporatism. When government has the power to give things to people/companies/industries/communities, it sets the stage for crony corporatism. What would happen if government did NOT have such powers? There would be no one for businesses/communities to “buy” because politicians wouldn’t have the power to give them stuff in return for getting them into office. Sunsetting the EDC is obviously a pipe dream, but this is the perfect example of what corrupts government – power. Power to give person “A” the tax money taken from persons “B, C, D, …, Z…” in the name of economic development, as if developers, entrepreneurs, businesses, etc. would not be able to exist without government aid, creates a vicious cycle of interdependency between business and government.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−283: Clarify Discrimination and Right to Disagree
Position: Support

Under current law, actions such as denial of service, terms and conditions, unequal treatment, failure to accommodate, and retaliation are prohibited in places of “public accommodation” when undertaken against protected classes. For purposes of public accommodation, protected classes are defined on the basis of race, color, disability, sex, sexual orientation (including transgender status), national origin or ancestry, creed, or marital status. Places of public accommodation include restaurants, hospitals, hotels, retail stores, and public transportation, among others. This bill clarifies that it is not a discriminatory practice for an owner of a place of public accommodation to decline to contract to provide goods, services, facilities, or other accommodation to an individual, group, or event that represents a message with which the owner disagrees. In other words, selling some stuff sitting on the shelves in your store? Yeah, you can’t decide not to sell it to someone because you disagree with them. However, contracting to prospectively perform a service or provide a product for someone? Yes, you should be able to choose who you want to enter into a business contract with to produce something. The ability to conduct business according to your conscience is a fundamental part of liberty. It’s called freedom of association. If you’re forced to do business in support of an idea you don’t agree with, whether you’re right or wrong, are you really free?

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Property Rights
  • Limited Government
SupportSB 17−286: Driver’s Permit License Disability Administration
Position: Support

This bill clarifies that the department shall issue driver instruction permits to qualified applicants with disabilities, although the department can modify the requirements of the permit as necessary due to a person’s disability. This includes a clarification that the instruction permit expires after 3 years. The bill also requires that the department of revenue make a reasonable effort to ensure that confidential driver’s records are not visible or accessible to the public and protect the contents against inadvertent disclosure.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
OpposeSB 17−287: Income Tax Credit for Donation to Endowment Fund
Position: Oppose

This bill creates an income tax credit for contributions made to an endowment of a Colorado charitable organization. The credit is equal to 25 percent of the contribution up to a maximum of $ 25,000 per taxpayer per year. The credit is non-refundable, but can be carried forward for five years, and is available in tax years 2017, 2018, and 2019. Here’s the deal, and we’ve seen this before: This bill is 1) a credit, not a deduction, and 2) provides a huge double-dip for donors. When someone makes a charitable contribution, then on their federal return they get to deduct that contribution from their income. This reduces their reportable income, which reduces their taxes. When you calculate your Colorado state income tax, you start with your federal numbers, which already includes deductions for charitable donations. This bill would allow you to take credit a second time. But not just as a deduction from the income you’re taxed on. This is a tax credit. What’s special about that? It’s a dollar for dollar offset to what you owe in taxes. For example, let’s say that you owe $ 25,000 in Colorado income tax. That would mean you’d have to be making $ 540,000 of taxable income that year ($ 540,000 x 4.63% = $ 25,000). A tax credit of $ 25,000 means you would wipe out all of your taxes due to Colorado. A credit under this bill means that by making a $ 100,000 contribution to an endowment, you’d pay zero Colorado taxes. Ever hear about how some people make lots of money and pay no taxes? Here’s one way that’s possible.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSB 17−292: Colorado Works Employment Opportunities With Wages
Position: Oppose

This bill creates the Employment Opportunities with Wages Program in the Department of Human Services (DHS). The purpose of the program is to assist individuals receiving public assistance through the state’s implementation of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, known as Colorado Works, in attaining permanent jobs paying a “living wage”. (We searched Colorado Revised Statutes for “living wage” and had a total of 5 hits. The only one to reference any sort of definition of “living wage” was a reference to the Colorado Talent Pipeline Report, a typical government report justifying more government. We found the January 2, 2015 report, which uses $ 17.88 as a living wage for a Colorado family of 3.) This new program would subsidize employment, apprenticeships, job-training and “transitional” jobs to help participants attain living wage permanent jobs.

Colorado currently receives about $ 136.1 million of TANF block grant money per year from the federal government (no, that is NOT “free money”, that’s simply our federal tax money as opposed to our state tax money), and sets aside any unused money each year in a reserve account. That reserve account currently stands at about $ 31.9 million. This new program would be funded with $ 4 million each year for 3 years from that reserve account.

One of the intriguing elements of this bill is that wages earned by participants in this new program would not count as income for the purposes of the Colorado Works Program eligibility. One of the challenges of the current system is that if you engage in work, then your benefits may be reduced. Why would you go find work if it doesn’t result in an increased net income, or simply nets you the same amount of money you were getting from welfare without working? This provision would remove some of the disincentive for people to go find work since their new working income would not be offset by a corresponding reduction in their current state supplied benefits.

While this is an issue that needs to be addressed, it could be addressed without implementing entire new programs at the same. But as is too often the case, instead of focusing on fixing one specific issue, the plan here is to create a whole new government program providing more subsidies, and further codifying vague concepts like “living wages” as some sort of right that the government is determined to provide to some individuals on the backs of others.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government