Colorado Capitol Report

CACI Opposes “Public Trust Resources” Ballot Measure


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State Policy News

CACI Opposes "Public Trust Resources” Ballot Measure

Yesterday, the CACI Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose Ballot Initiative 103, “Public Trust Resources.”  The constitutional amendment would upend Colorado water law and rights as well as that pertaining to the environment and other natural resources, wreaking havoc on the economy of the State.

On Wednesday, the Title Setting Board of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office approved the ballot title for Initiative 103.

The proposal states that the people of Colorado have an inalienable right to clean air, clean water (including ground and surface water) and the preservation of the environment and natural resources– and calls them the public trust resources.  It states that the government shall protect the public trust resources and if any action has a “suspected risk of substantially impairing public trust resources” the burden of proof falls on those proposing to take the action.

Essentially, the measure prioritizes the protection of water resources over any beneficial use, no matter how essential to the economy and function of Colorado.  In addition, the proposal directs the State of Colorado to seek damages and allows for any Colorado citizen to sue to defend and protect the public trust resources against substantial impairment and to ensure that the State is meeting its obligations to protect such resources.

At its meeting earlier this month, the CACI Energy and Environment Council voted to oppose Initiative 103.

Here is the result of the Title Setting Board’s action:

The title as designated and fixed by the Board is as follows:

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a public trust in environmental resources, and, in connection therewith, defining public trust resources to include clean air, clean water, and the preservation of the environment and natural resources; requiring the state, as trustee, to conserve and maintain public trust resources by using the best science available to protect them against substantial impairment, seeking natural resource damages from anyone who substantially impairs them, and using damages obtained to remediate the impairment; allowing Colorado citizens to file enforcement actions in court; requiring anyone who is proposing an action or policy that might substantially impair public trust resources to prove that the action or policy is not harmful; and criminalizing the manipulation of data, reports, or scientific information in an attempt to use public trust resources for private profit.

The ballot title and submission clause as designated and fixed by the Board is as follows:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a public trust in environmental resources, and, in connection therewith, defining public trust resources to include clean air, clean water, and the preservation of the environment and natural resources; requiring the state, as trustee, to conserve and maintain public trust resources by using the best science available to protect them against substantial impairment, seeking natural resource damages from anyone who substantially impairs them, and using damages obtained to remediate the impairment; allowing Colorado citizens to file enforcement actions in court; requiring anyone who is proposing an action or policy that might substantially impair public trust resources to prove that the action or policy is not harmful; and criminalizing the manipulation of data, reports, or scientific information in an attempt to use public trust resources for private profit?

The Colorado Water Stewardship Project, which is housed at the Colorado Water Congress, yesterday announced that it would launch legal action to challenge Initiative 103’s ballot title by appealing to the Colorado Supreme Court.

For more information about this measure, contact Carly West, CACI Governmental Relations Representative, at 303.866.9622 for more information.


CACI Comments on State Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

This week, CACI’s Air Quality Committee submitted comments to the Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) on theDraft Colorado Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory.

The inventory is a summary of Colorado’s GHG from 1990 to 2030.  This inventory is the latest in a series of inventories of Colorado GHG emissions and sinks, the last of which was completed in late 2007.

The draft was generated using the Environmental Protection Agency’s State Implementation Tool (SIT), and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is considering how to customize values to more accurately reflect Colorado GHG emissions.

In March, CACI’s Air Quality Committee met with Theresa Takushi and Garry Kaufman from the Air Pollution Control Division for a conversation about the Division’s draft and how CACI members could provide constructive feed-back.

The Division provided a presentation of the process to develop the inventory and to demonstrate where there are opportunities to customize the inventory to better reflect Colorado.  Over the last month, CACI members developed comments and questions for the APCD in such sectors as:

  • Electrical Power;
  • Residential, Commercial, Industrial (RCI) Fuel Use;
  • Coal Mining and Abandoned Mines; and
  • Gas Production.

CACI’s comments stressed that the importance of obtaining a more accurate inventory cannot be overstated and should be the primary consideration driving the Division in its development of the Colorado GHG Inventory.   CACI also encouraged the APCD to fully consider the existing state of regulations, voluntary reductions and other agreements and frameworks that will reduce GHG in any inventory being prepared for use by APCD or the Air Quality Control Commission.

For more information on the draft inventory or CACI’s comments, please contact Carly West at 303.866.9622.


CACI Opposes Paid Family Medical Leave Bill

Yesterday, the CACI Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose SB-196, which was introduced Tuesday and assigned to the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.  The Committee is chaired by Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D-Commerce City), who is the bill’s sponsor.

The bill would create a new division in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).  Here’s the bill’s summary:

The bill creates the family and medical leave insurance (FAMLI) program in the newly created division of family and medical leave insurance (division) in the department of labor and employment (department) to provide partial wage replacement benefits to eligible individuals who take leave from work to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition or who are unable to work due to their own serious health condition.  Each employee in the state that has not opted out of the program will pay a premium based on a percentage of the employee’s yearly wages, and the premiums are deposited into the family and medical leave insurance fund from which family and medical leave benefits are paid to eligible individuals.  The division is established as an enterprise, and premiums paid into the fund are not considered state revenues for purposes of section 20 of article X of the state constitution (TABOR).

In brief, CACI’s objections to the bill include the following:

  • The bill would create a totally new, state-administered, employee-benefit insurance system, similar to the existing unemployment insurance system and the workers’ compensation system;
  • Although employers would not be required to match the worker’s contribution, all employers would be subject to the law and would have to absorb the substantial administrative cost of setting up payroll-deduction plans;
  • If this bill becomes law, then future sessions of the legislature would likely see attempts to impose an employer match, which would cost employers millions of dollars;
  • The bill interferes with the private, contractual rights of the employer-worker relationship;
  • The cost to establish a new CDLE division will run into the millions of dollars, which raises the serious question of where the money would be found.

To learn more about this 19-page bill, read:

Paid family leave hot forum topic,” by Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, April 13th.

For more information on this proposal, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.


Worker’s Compensation Legislation Introduced in Final Days of Session

The long-awaited workers’ compensation bill, HB-1383, was introduced Wednesday.

Sponsored by Representative Angela Williams (D-Denver), the bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee, which she chairs, when the Committee convenes at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 22nd, in Legislative Services Building Room A.

The bill is being pursued by AFL-CIO based on its concerns that workers need additional physician choice for on-the-job injuries.

In anticipation of legislation on this issue, CACI convened the “Workers Compensation Employer Coalition” in January.

The current bill language is based on many months of work and involvement by coalition members, which has resulted in legislation that does not increase costs for Colorado’s employers while providing additional physician-choice to workers.  A cost analysis by the National Council on Compensation Insurance has determined that the legislation has a negligible impact to employers:

Meanwhile, CACI has analyzed the bill’s provisions in detail and compared it to current law.

For more on this bill, read:

Worker’s comp bill arrives in Legislature—in much-compromised form,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 17th.

For more information on HB-1383, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.


News Media Coverage

Below is recent news-media coverage of business, political, policy and governmental issues of interest to CACI:

Tax to fund exchange would hit all Coloradans with health insurance,” by Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, Health News Colorado, April 17th.

Higher ed funding bill has easy time in House,” The Denver Business Journal, April 18th.

How wage-theft regulations bill became OK with Colorado businesses,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 17th.

Colorado House approves study of oil and gas impacts,” by Cathy Proctor, The Denver Business Journal, April 17th.

Sick-leave bill opens floodgates for complex late measures at Colorado Legislature,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 15th.

Let public look at schools’ spending,” editorial, The Denver Post, April 14th.

Colorado retailer online retailer tax bill faces partisan split,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 14th.