2014 Legislative Wrap Up

The 2014 Colorado State Legislative Session ended on May 4. We have three representatives here in the Longmont area that worked tirelessly furthering the issues concerning the citizens of Colorado — State Representative Jonathan Singer (HD11), State Representative Mike Foote (HD12), and State Senator Matt Jones (SD17). Here’s what they accomplished…

HB14-1001  This was the first bill introduced in the House and (after an enormous amount of negotiating) the last one passed.  It will allow folks to be reimbursed for the property tax they owe during the year in which their property has been destroyed by a natural disaster.
HB14-1006   There are times when a community needs money to recover from a disaster.   In circumstances like that, it would be helpful if a local marketing district could require that taxes be filed monthly rather than quarterly.  This bill makes that possible.
HB14-1343   This bill sets up a task force that will study work-related PTSD in peace officers and make recommendations to their employers about how best to handle it.
HB14-1361   This bill will require that marijuana edibles and concentrates have a potency equivalent to that in one ounce of flowers.
HB14-1366   Since marijuana became legal in Colorado, there’s been a significant increase in kids showing up in emergency rooms with overdoses.  This bill will help to prevent the accidental ingestion by kids of marijuana by packaging it safely and eliminating the chance that marijuana infused products would look like trademarked foods which kids would normally eat.
HB14-1398   One of the other challenges faced by the marijuana industry is that, at this point, it’s a cash only industry since banks are governed by Federal regulations and marijuana is still illegal according to Federal standards.   This bill sets up banking coops for producers of marijuana and hemp so that they’ll be ready to go when the FDIC is allowed to insure them.
SB14-005  This is the wage protection bill that I’ve spent the last three years trying to pass.  It will make it easier for workers to collect wages from employers who have been found wilfully to have withheld them.  In addition, it will increase the penalties assessed against fraudulent employers, and add the possibility of jail time if those employers don’t respond.
SB14-193  This bill will add to the “protection from unreasonable searches and seizures” any tracking of citizens via electronic devices unless the government first obtains a warrant.
SB14-195  This one’s interesting to some extent because I had to learn more about “phreatophytes” than the average person knows.  Phreatophytes are deep-rooted plants (many not native to Colorado) which consume sufficient water as to threaten ground water levels.  This bill sets up a study to determine the relationship between high groundwater and non-beneficial consumptive water use by phreatophytes, and to develop a cost analysis for removal of unwanted phreatophytes.

First elected to represent Colorado’s House District 12 in 2012, I am happy to serve on the House Finance Committee, the House State, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Committee on Legal Services.
The short summary is:  4 flood bills (HB1004, SB007, SB138, and SB179), 2 criminal justice bills (HB1260 – Jessica’s Law for Colorado, and SB98 – crimes against at-risk elders), HB1356 is the oil and gas penalties increase, and HB1388 is civil penalties for intentional or reckless acts against pregnant women.

HB14-1004: CDPS Emergency Management Entities and Disaster Assistance SIGNED INTO LAW

HB14-1013: Advanced Industries Workforce Development Program

HB14-1111: Allow Retired Volunteer Firefighters to Serve on Municipal Fire Department Pension Boards SIGNED INTO LAW

HB14-1260: Penalties for Sex Offenses Against a Child Under 12 SIGNED INTO LAW

HB14-1324: Damages for Crimes Against Pregnant Women

HB14-1356: Strengthen Penalty Authority of Oil & Gas Commission SIGNED INTO LAW

HB14-1388: Civil Damages for Unlawful Termination of Pregnancy SIGNED INTO LAW

SB14-007: Allowing Counties To Use General Fund Money to Fix Damaged Roads and Bridges SIGNED INTO LAW

SB14-062: Reinstatement of Parent-child Legal Relationship SIGNED INTO LAW

SB14-098: Language on Crimes Against At-Risk Elders SIGNED INTO LAW

SB14-138: Civil Immunity for Volunteers at Emergencies SIGNED INTO LAW

SB14-179: Flood Debris Cleanup Grants SIGNED INTO LAW

SB14-197: Transportation Enterprise Transparency VETOED BY GOVERNOR

This year we again put people before politics.  Focusing on the needs of “regular people” continues to be my priority.  Flood recovery, clean energy jobs, education and transparency for transportation private-public partnerships were my focus.
Flood recovery — Last September, floods destroyed homes and brought heartache to many. Visiting with flood victims and touring flood-ravaged areas with members of bipartisan Flood Disaster Study Committee spurred action

Fixing roads — My first bill enables flood-damaged counties the financial flexibility to quickly rebuild roads and bridges.

Fixing water and wastewater plants — Flood waters ravaged Longmont’s water treatment and wastewater treatment plants.  To help local governments make their federal match, I sponsored a bill that provides $17 million.

Helping people recover — Some people not only lost their homes, but the property around their home.  For those people, we passed a bill to their waive property tax.  

Clean Energy Jobs — Cars need gas stations; electric cars need charging stations.  Clean energy jobs are created when charging stations or solar panels are installed, and when electric vehicles, such as the Leaf at Valley Nissan, are sold.  Last year, we helped established a charging station matching fund supported by electric vehicle owners. I ran a bill this year to expand the eligible locations. This will help ensure the people paying into the fund have charging stations that work for them.

Oil and Gas Protection — Oil and gas companies should take responsibility for their actions, just like the rest of us do, and be held accountable with commonsense rules that ensure their operations are safe.  Increased fines provide an incentive to follow rules, not spill, and fix problems right away.

Oil and gas fines were increased for the first time since 1955 from $1,000 up to $15,000 per day, per violation through a bill Representative Mike Foote and I sponsored.  

Educational Opportunity — Working together we can give all Coloradans the freedom to succeed. Public educational opportunity is a priority for me.  Here are a few of the issues I worked on.

Keeping college affordable — The College Affordability Act caps tuition hikes at 6% and supplies Colorado’s public colleges with $100 million more in funding.  

Putting more dollars into the classroom — We provided more money to public schools and started to dig  out of the $1 billion hole that was created because of the Great Recession and Colorado’s requirement to balance the state budget every year.

Giving veterans the credit they deserve — I sponsored a bill to ensure veterans receive recertification for professional licenses, such as nursing and plumbing licenses, that have lapsed during deployment.  

SB14-197: Transportation Transparency — People have a right to know what is happening with their roads—with no surprises.  This is especially true for the private-public super projects that are expensive and very long-term. Unfortunately, there were big surprises this year when details of a U.S. 36 deal surfaced. The deal has a private company operating the highway for 50 years.  It removes free use for two-person carpools in 2016 and the current $4.00 maximum toll is now capped at $13.31.  Toll lanes are proposed for I-25 north of Denver. (this bill was vetoed by the Governor)