COLORADO LEGISLATURE REPORT

Audubon Rockies, along with Trout Unlimited, supports a lobbyist, Jen Boulton, who tracks bills coming before the Colorado State Legislature, and advocates for bird-related conservation issues. Here is her latest report:

Audubon Legislative Report

19, April, 2018                                                                                                          Jen Boulton

There are now 19 days left, and the end is in sight. Most of our priorities are now done, and only a few environmental bills remain. That said, late bills and statement bills will continue to be introduced.

PRIORITY BILLS

*SB143 FUTURE GENERATIONS                                                               (Fenberg, Arndt)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: Passed

SB143 is the CPW Financial Sustainability bill. This year, the bill will increase nearly all in-state hunting and angling fees by $8. It will also reinstate the senior fishing license at $8. Out-state fishing licenses will increase to $95 for parity with surrounding states. At the present time, there is no intention to include any language relating to fee-title acquisitions – no one really wants to have that fight. The most important piece of the bill is the inclusion of the CPI indexing authority for future fees to keep pace with inflation. In Senate Finance, the bill was amended to clarify a few issues, and to prohibit use of funds from the waterfowl stamp for political purposes. The amendment also directs CPW to promulgate rules for enforcing entrance fees to State Parks for non-motorized entrants. The bill passed the finance committee 5-0; the approps committee 6-1; and the floor 35-0 in the Senate.

*SB192 OIL/GAS TAKINGS                                                                                    (Marble, Buck)

Position: Oppose                                                                                           Status: Dead

To paraphrase Will Rogers, “Nothing is safe while the legislature is in session.” SB192 is a carbon copy of HB1150. After killing the bill in the House, it has now been reintroduced in the Senate. It passed the Senate Ag committee 6-5. Thank you to Sens. Donovan, Fenberg, Fields, Garcia, and Kerr (replacing Sen. Jones for the day) for voting against this awful bill.

*HB1290 CONTINUE CONS EASEMENT CERT PROGRAM        (Roberts, Sonnenberg)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: H-Approps

HB1290 continues the current program for certification of conservation easement holders until 2025. The bill also authorizes creation of a publicly available registry listing the easements for which tax credits have been claimed. Finally the bill authorizes the Real Estate Commission to promulgate rules capping the number of applications for tax credit certificates in any given month.

*HB1291 CONTINUE CONS EASEMENT OVERSIGHT                (Winter, Sonnenberg)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: H-Approps

HB1291 continues the current Conservation Easement oversight Commission until 2025. The bill also transfers authority for the commission from the Division of Real Estate to the Department of Regulatory Agencies. Finally the bill makes the Commission a type 1 agency rather than a type 2 agency. As expected, the bill was significantly amended to make the process clearer.  The amendments include a number of additional things that DORA is authorized to do, along with more strident language and timelines for processing of applications.

*HB1274 REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS                               (Becker K., Kerr)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: Dead

HB1274 requires the State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% from baseline 2005 levels by the year 2050. It leaves open the methods by which reductions are to be achieved. Note that the bill was not only assigned to State Affairs, but also to Ag and Transportation in the Senate.

*SB66 EXTEND LOTTERY                                                                          (Garcia, Wist)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: Passed

SB66 removes the sunset date for the Lottery Division so that it will exist in perpetuity, without having to repeatedly reauthorize it. The bill has been amended to include a sunset in 2049. We hope that those who come after us will value it as we do!

*SB246 REPEAL 13-252                                                                                        (Cooke,)

Position: Priority Oppose!                                                                                        Status: S-SA

SB246 repeals the last increase in the Renewable energy standard. It returns the RES to 10% for electric cooperatives. It also strikes syn-gas from trash pyrolisis as an innovative technology, but leaves coal bed methane. Further, the bill permits inclusion of all existing and new hydro- regardless of size or impact, under the RES. Lastly, the bill reinstates the multiplier for solar which expired in 2015. This is a truly awful bill!

 

NEW BILLS

 HB1382 CREATE ENERGY INTERIM COMMITTEE                               (Hansen)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: Leg Council

HB1382 creates a new standing interim committee, similar to the TLRC and the Water Resources Review Committee. The committee is comprised of 10 members, 5 House and 5 Senate. At least 4 members must be from the western slope. The committee is limited to 3 bills per year, and a 2/3 majority is needed to recommend a bill.

HB1400 INCREASE STATIONARY SOURCE FEES                                   (KC Becker, Scott)

Position: Monitor                                                                                          Status: H-Fin

HB1400 increases the existing statutory cap on air quality discharge permits. The increases are modest, but needed for CDPHE to continue its permitting in reasonable time frames.

SB245 NORM                                                                                                           (Cooke)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: S-Ag

SB245 merely strikes the existing prohibition on rulemaking by the CDPHE for disposal of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM).

 

WATER

 SB218 CWCB PROJECTS                                                                             (Coram, Arndt)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: H-Ag

Given the lack of severance tax revenue, it is unsurprising that the projects bill is significantly scaled back this year. There are small amounts of funding allocated to continuation of many existing programs. On the positive side, the bill includes $2M for watershed restoration programs and $1M for long range conservation and drought planning. The bill also makes the appropriations from the Health Rivers tax checkoff subject to continuous appropriation rather than annual expenditure.

On the less positive side, the bill also includes $2M for the litigation fund, and $11M in cumulative loan increases for Centennial, Central, and Castle Pines participation in Chatfield.

 HB1215 TENORM                                                                                       (Arndt)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: H-Approps

HB1215 is a largely temporary measure. Current law forbids the State from regulating Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) until the Federal government has established a regulatory framework. The Federal government has not enacted such a framework, and as a result radioactive material is being disposed of in landfills and leeching into waterways. HB1215 requires the CDPHE to promulgate rules for the safe disposal of TENORM, including that from oil and gas exploration. The agency is directed to consult with the Water Quality Control Commission and the COGCC in promulgating the rules. Until the rules are enacted, the bill requires that TENORM can only be disposed of in facilities designed and permitted to handle the waste. After enactment of the rules, the bill is largely repealed in favor of the new regulatory framework.

HB1301 MINING                                                                                         (Roberts, Fenberg)

Position: Support                                                                                                      Status: S-SA

HB1301 prohibits mining operators from relying on perpetual water treatment as an option for reclamation in applications for new permits. The prohibition doesn’t apply to applications for re-mining of contaminated sites, or to updates/amendments to existing permits. The bill also eliminates the option for self bonding in reclamation permits; requiring that the operator actually post bonds sufficient for reclamation work.

HB1053 REUSE WATER FOR MARIJUANA                                             (Arndt, Donovan)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: H-Approp

HB1053 codifies existing Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) rules for water quality categories involving the use of recycled water. The bill also allows the WQCC to create new categories, and to re-categorize permissible uses into less stringent categories. The bill adds cultivation of marijuana to the list of permissible uses for recycled water, and authorizes the WQCC to grant variances from water quality standards for specific recycled water projects.

SB33 CONTINUE CAFO FEES                                                          (Sonnenberg, Becker J)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: Concurrence

SB33 extends the Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) program until 2025. The bill also continues the existing fee structure for CAFOs by repealing the automatic fee reductions that were initially included.

Things got a little more interesting recently. The Senate added an amendment to appropriate an additional $14,000 for continuation of the program this year. The House decided that funding was unnecessary, and struck the appropriation. The Senate responded by adhering. The ball is now in the House’s court, though it’s likely they will accept the Senate version.

HB1069 REUSE WATER FOR TOILET FLUSHING                                 (Arndt, Coram)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: Passed

HB1069 adds toilet flushing to the list of permissible uses for recycled water.

SB38 REUSE WATER FOR INDUSTRIAL HEMP                                      (Coram, Willet)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: H-Approp

SB38 adds cultivation of industrial hemp to the list of permissible uses for recycled water.

 

OPEN SPACE/WILDLIFE

HB1216 SNOW GEESE                                                                                (Rehyer)

Position: Oppose                                                                                           Status: Dead

HB1216 requires CPW to promulgate rules for the take of “light geese” on private property by members of youth shooting sports organizations. The landowner would need to notify the shooting sports organizations when light geese were on the property. Encouraging youth to view wildlife as objects for target practice runs counter to hunting ethics.  While recruiting new hunters is admirable, shooting wildlife just for the sake of shooting is not. The sponsor has reached an agreement with CPW about the accessibility of the walk-in program for waterfowl hunting and is expected to kill the bill next week.

HJR1002 OUTDOOR RECREATION INDUSTRY                         (McLachlan, Donovan)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status:  S-Floor

HJR1002 is a resolution recognizing the value of public lands, and the economic benefit of outdoor recreation; and welcoming the outdoor retail show to Colorado.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

 HB1338 BUDGET SUPPLEMENT SEVERANCE TAX                               (Rankin, Lambert)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: Passed

HB1338 stops severance tax funding of tier 2 programs for the next fiscal year. It returns the automatic distributions to the Severance Tax Operational Account for transfer to the general fund. In return, the bill transfers money from the general fund to finance tier 2 programs for the next year. Of particular note, is $3M for Species Conservation Trust Fund, $3.5M for the ANS program (split between Parks and Wildlife until HB1008 takes effect), and $1.1M for the Healthy Forests/Vibrant Communities Fund.

The bill also provides funding for tier 1 programs for the next year, and uses incoming severance revenue to offset those expenditures until the general fund is made whole. If any additional severance taxes are collected, the excess money reverts to the operational account.

HB1237 CONTINUE RULES COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS             (Kraft-Tharp, Neville)

Position: Monitor -Amend                                                                            Status: Passed

HB1237 continues the existing requirement that agencies conduct a cost benefit analysis of proposed rules if requested. The bill requires that agencies post the results of any cost benefit analysis on its website. The bill was amended in the Senate with a bad amendment. The new language requires the Department of Regulatory affairs to determine if a proposed rule is “significant”. Significant is defined as costing industry $10M over five years, or conflicting with the rules of another agency. If the proposed rule is declared significant, then the Office of State Budgeting and Planning is required to do the cost benefit analysis. The amendment also institutes some very restrictive timelines for notification and completion of analyses, and delays implementation of rules until the analyses are completed. Unfortunately, Rep Kraft Tharpe decided to simply accept the Senate changes rather than go to conference committee. We will revisit the issue if the changes become a problem.

HB1250 RULES COMPLIANCE                                                      (Kraft-Tharp, Priola)

Position: Monitor                                                                                          Status: Passed

HB1250 requires state agencies to conduct a review on compliance with agency rules. The analysis must identify the rules with the highest levels of noncompliance, and the rules with the highest levels of imposed fines. Additionally, the analysis must identify the numbers of first time offenders who were given an opportunity to cure minor violations. Each agency must report the results of the analysis to the Department of Regulatory Agencies. In turn, DORA must include a compiled report on compliance rates as part of its annual SMART hearings at the State legislature.

 

ENERGY

HB1352 SCHOOL SETBACKS                                                                     (Foote, Jones)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: H-HIE

HB1352 clarifies that the current 1000ft setback from schools for oil/gas drilling applies from the property line, not from the school door. The bill also clarifies that the limit does not apply if a school is constructed within the 1000ft limit of an existing oil/gas well – as long as the school wasn’t planned before the drilling started.

SB226 PROHIBIT COLORADO PARTICIPATION IN CLIMATE                        (Lundberg,)

Position: Oppose                                                                                           Status: S-Floor

Just in case anyone was confused about where the Senate Republicans stand on climate change- SB226 prohibits the Governor from involving Colorado in any alliance or collaboration to reduce CO2 emissions, or to promote any other goals of the Paris Agreement.

SB230 MODIFY FORCED POOLING ORDERS                                          (Marble, Saine)

Position: Oppose                                                                                           Status: S-Floor

SB230 has three main components. First, it clarifies that forced pooling orders from COGCC allow for more than one well per drilling unit. Second, the bill clarifies that mineral owners who are force pooled are exempt from damages resulting from spills, releases, or other injury associated with oil/gas operations. Finally, the bill increases the required payoff costs for force pooled owners to 300% of proportional drilling costs for wells more than 5000 feet, and for directional wells. The current 200% requirement remains for shallower wells.

SB216 ALT FUEL VEHICLE INFRASTRUCTURE                                     (Priola/Williams,)

Position: FYI                                                                                                  Status: Dead

SB216 authorizes the PUC to regulate charging and fueling stations for alternative fuel vehicles. The bill provides for cost recovery on the part of those who provide the service currently, as well as allowing utilities to apply for construction/maintenance of facilities.

HB1297 CLIMATE CHANGE RESILIENCY                                                                        (Winter)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: H-Floor

HB1297 requires Greenhouse Gas emissions to be reduced 26% from 2005 levels by 2025. The bill further specifies that CO2 levels must be cut 25% from 2012 levels by 2025, and 30% by 2030. The bill also requires DOLA to take a number of actions to improve climate change response including collecting and analyzing current data on the economic and environmental impacts of failing to address climate change. DOLA is also required to develop modeling to estimate future impacts of climate change, and to analyze current modeling on state and regional climactic conditions.

HB1281 PUC ETHICS                                                                                  (Esgar, Garcia)

Position:  Tepid Support                                                                                          Status: S-SA

HB1281 prohibits those with recent ties to any sector of the regulated industry from serving on the PUC. The bill also permits DORA to request performance audits of PUC staff and operations. Finally the bill requires PUC to promulgate rules for dealing with conflicts of interest, ex-parte communications and prohibited activities.

HB1289 FORCED POOLING                                                                       (Foote, Jones)

Position: Support                                                                                          Status: H-TE

HB1289 exempts school districts and designated open space from being force pooled for the purposes of oil/gas development.

HB1270 ENERGY STORAGE                                                                      (Hansen, Tate)

Position: Support                                                                                                      Status: S-Ag

HB1270 requires the PUC to establish mechanisms and criteria for investor owned utilities to procure energy storage systems. The bill leaves all discussion of the types of appropriate storage capability to the PUC.

SB3 COLORADO ENERGY OFFICE                                                             (Scott, Hansen)

Position: Monitor                                                                                          Status: Passed

SB3 reorganizes the Colorado Energy Office. The bill requires promotion of nuclear and energy storage systems along with the existing promotional requirements. It also repeals several existing programs that, admittedly, are not being used. Among the programs repealed are Wind for Schools, The Clean Energy financing program, the Green Building Incentive fund, and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Schools program. Although we worked hard with others to create each of the preceding programs, the Energy Office has engaged with schools and businesses in other ways, rendering the specific programs essentially obsolete. On the brighter side, the bill does remove the energy office from consideration of forestry projects for biomass, leaving just the CDPHE in charge of regulating Air Quality from forest health projects. Lastly the bill directs the Energy Office to engage in development of energy curriculum for science based education programs.

 

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