-Jep Seman
April 13, 2021

NWRA State Update: Highlights from Colorado’s Legislative Session

National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) Colorado chapter lobbyist Jep Seman with Colorado Advocates, Inc. provides highlights from the state’s legislative session.

The Colorado legislature is nearing its halfway point; April 9 was day 56 of 120.

  • This week, the legislature started formal consideration of the $34 billion 2021-22 state budget. The bill started in the Senate this year and was passed and sent to the House for consideration earlier today. During Senate consideration, 38 amendments were offered and nine were passed. Because the state’s economy has not suffered as dramatically as initially projected, legislators have roughly $4 billion in additional funding to allocate this budget cycle.
  • Rumors at the Capitol suggest that no changes will be proposed to severance taxes this session. In light of the robust budget situation and the complexities of the issue, Sen. Chris Hansen (D-Denver) will allegedly propose some form of stakeholder process during the interim to examine changes to the ad valorem credit, special district levies and the like.
  • Speaking of rumors, a special legislative session is the topic du jour. Apparently, the Federal American Rescue Act funding for state and local governments will not be transmitted for another 60 days, which is roughly when the current legislative session will adjourn, since the legislature insists on being part of the allocation process for nearly $3 billion in federal money (in order to not cede these decisions entirely to Gov. Jared Polis). When the special session will convene is not known, and guesses range from mid-June, to July, to sometime in September. Meanwhile, the current session is expected to adjourn in early June, if not by Memorial Day.
  • This week, the legislature lost one of its few remaining moderate and balanced Democrats when Rep. Jeni Arndt (D-Fort Collins) was elected mayor of Fort Collins. She will resign her seat in the legislature later this month and a vacancy committee will be formed to select her successor. Arndt is currently chair of the House Agriculture Committee and considered to be one of the legislature’s experts on water law and policy.
  • Today, the House Health and Insurance Committee is hearing the controversial public option health insurance bill. More than 100 witnesses are expected to testify, and the hearing could last well into the night. Earlier this week, Republican legislators sent a letter requesting the commissioner of insurance be required to testify under oath (something not required for legislative witnesses). This request will be ignored but is evidence of the level of controversy that attaches to this issue, particularly from the health insurance and hospital communities.