Highlights of the Week
On Tuesday, Perry Will was appointed to the last vacant House seat. The House District 57 seat was left open when Senator Rankin was appointed to the Senate to replace Senator Randy Baumgardner, who recently resigned from his position. Representative Will spent 40 years of his career working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, most recently as a supervisor. Senator Rankin’s wife, Joyce Rankin, was one of the contenders for the vacancy. This is the first week of the session where the legislature has met with a full chamber of 100 members. There are many new faces in the 72nd General Assembly with 30 first year legislators and 8 Senators who previously served in the House of Representatives.
This week the Joint Budget Committee introduced a package of supplemental bills. These bills true up the state budget for the current fiscal year to account for under-expenditures and over-expenditures by state agencies. Because supplemental bills are accounting true ups, they typically move through the legislative process quickly and with little or no debate. During the Senate Floor on Wednesday, two supplementals were discussed in more depth. Republicans pushed back against the supplemental bill SB19-112 to provide funding for Lt. Governor Primavera to serve as head of the Office of Saving People Money on Health Care and the two employees to staff the Office and Sen. Sonnenberg voiced opposition to SB19-122, the supplemental bill about the conservation easement programs under the Department of Regulatory Agencies. The Division of Conservation which administers the conservation easement programs is due to wind down this year unless it is reauthorized. Debates over conservation easements that were not settled over the interim are likely to continue through the legislative session. The House will consider the supplemental package next week.
SB19-079, Electronic Prescribing Controlled Substances, passed the Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee on Monday 5-0 and passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 34-0. The bill would require health care providers to prescribe controlled substances, such as opioids, by using an electronic prescribing system. This would make forging prescriptions much more difficult and it would shorten the time for patients to have their prescriptions filled. The bill has bipartisan sponsorship by Democrats Senator Todd and Representative Esgar and Republicans Senator Priola and Representatives Landgraf.
It is the fourth session that HB19-1039, Identity Documents for Transgender Persons, has been introduced, and this year it is likely to pass because of the Democrat trifecta. The bill is sponsored by Representative Esgar and Senator Moreno. The bill would streamline the process for transgender persons to change their gender designation on their birth certificate and to receive a new birth certificate rather than an amended birth certificate. It also makes it easier for transgender persons to change their legal name by removing a requirement to first obtain a court order. The bill passed the House Health and Insurance Committee on a vote of 7-4 and is headed to the House Floor next.
In the summer of 2018, the Supreme Court decided South Dakota v. Wayfair to allow states to require collection of sales taxes from online retailers who do not have any stores or physical presence in the state. The system cannot be overly burdensome, and it would have to have an exemption for companies who do a small level of business in the state, similar to a provision of the challenged South Dakota law. Sales and use tax is complicated in Colorado with a myriad of taxing jurisdictions with different rates and different points of collection between home rule cities and the state. Two bills were introduced this week, SB19-130, Sales Tax Administration, and SB19-131, Exempt Certain Businesses from Destination Sourcing Rule. SB19-130 seeks to simplify the tax collection system for out of state retailers who do business in Colorado. It would not require out of state businesses to collect sales tax if they have limited transactions or sales in the state, it would require creation of a single filing form for tax returns, it would require out of state retailers to collect taxes based on the customer’s address, and it would require the Department of Revenue to develop software to easily calculate the appropriate sales taxes owed. Home rule cities could opt into the system. SB19-131 would allow in state retailers who bring in less than $100,000 in revenue to collect taxes based on where the retailer is located, rather than using destination sourcing to calculate taxes based on where the service is provided. While passage of these bills is not certain, these bills will start the conversation about collection of sales taxes from out of state retailers under the new Wayfair decision. Legislators and budget analysts are already committing funds that are expected to be collected a result of implementing a process to collect these taxes.
On Friday, Governor Polis announced appointments for executive directors to the Colorado Department of Human Services and to the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration. Michelle Barnes, currently the interim president of Food Bank of the Rockies, was appointed to serve as executive director for the Department of Human Services. The current Deputy Director of the Department of Personnel and Administration, Kara Veitch was chosen to be Executive Director of the Department. In coming weeks, the Senate will take up confirmations of these appointments.
Looking ahead to next week, the Joint Budget Committee will continue with figure setting for the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Personnel and Administration. The Capital Development Committee (CDC) will vote next week on the priorities for capital construction, cash funded capital construction projects, and controlled maintenance. After the vote, the CDC will send their recommended prioritized list for capital construction to the Joint Budget Committee.
Bills of the Week