Colorado Capitol Report

2017 Legislative Session Opens, Speeches Given: Now the Work Begins


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State Policy News

2017 Legislative Session Opens, Speeches Given: Now the Work Begins

On Wednesday, the session began with speeches from the four legislative leaders.  On Thursday, Governor John Hickenlooper delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the two chambers.

Following are excerpts from the prepared speeches by each chamber’s majority and minority leaders and by Governor John Hickenlooper that pertain to business issues:

Governor John Hickenlooper

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Governor John Hickenlooper

In 2011 when we started, Coloradans were hurting. Over 200,000 people were unemployed, and countless more were UNDER-employed.

Six years, and almost 400,000 new jobs later, we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Colorado’s history and the state of our state is STRONG.

We’re the number one state for business and careers, we have the best workforce, and we’re one of the best states for innovation.

More people attend cultural events in Colorado than any other state, more skiers and snowboarders choose Colorado, we are the best place for outdoor recreation, and we’re home to seven professional sports teams and some of the greatest college teams, not to mention the world champion Denver Broncos.

Colorado’s future is bright.

And like anywhere with a strong economy, we have our challenges.

With an aging and insufficient infrastructure, lagging recovery in certain areas, and a growing cost of living, that future is too far out of reach for too many.

Today, we won’t frame solutions in partisan terms.

We are called to these chambers to tap into our state’s deep reservoir of ideas no matter where they come from, and demonstrate that an accountable government solves problems, stimulates growth, and improves lives across Colorado.

This morning, we talk about solutions. Tomorrow, working together, we begin to make them happen.

We’ve had a lot of conversations about where we’re going, but not enough about how we get there.

We have 725 days left together, and as the late, great, Muhammad Ali said, “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

Every bill we write, negotiate, and sign. Every time we enter this building. Let’s make our days count.

As we evaluate each solution, let’s ask ourselves: Does it keep our communities safe? Does it help those unable to care for themselves? Does it create good-paying jobs? Does it help small business? Does it improve quality of life?

Thomas Jefferson said that the future of the country is in the West.

It was true at the turn of the 19th century, and it’s true today.

But that promising future didn’t just happen on its own. Our founders invested in railroads, farms, and people.

Today, 8 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the country are west of the Mississippi.

And we want to be the best of the West and of the nation.

The best state for jobs, the best state for business, and the best place to live.

To do all this we need to invest in our future.

We need a comprehensive focus on infrastructure that supports not just transportation, but also broadband, education, healthcare, and our environment.

These are not luxuries. Infrastructure investments lead to jobs. And quality of life starts with a good job.

If we want to be the best, we need to lead in Colorado.

One way to get started is right before us.

Talking about the hospital provider fee on the second floor of the Capitol is about as popular as the Oakland Raiders.

BUT it’s a sensible way to solve some of our problems, though it won’t solve all of them.

Let’s see if we can take a fresh look at the hospital provider fee itself,

and see if it can be modified as a vehicle to control costs, to build more transparency and accountability and better serve rural clinics and hospitals.

We can free up the money we already have, from existing revenue, to begin building the infrastructure we need to support our growth.

Over the next decade, Colorado has $9 billion dollars of unmet transportation needs, and that need will only grow.

Voters are tired of us kicking the can down the road, because they know it’s going to land in a pothole.

In our neighboring state of Utah, infrastructure investment is a priority.

Utah has about half as many people as Colorado but invests four times what we do to expand their road capacity every year.

Its economics 101: smart investments in infrastructure create jobs and strengthen the economy.

Two years ago, on the west steps of the Capitol, we said it was time for a continuous third lane on I-25 from Wyoming to New Mexico.

This past summer, working with local officials, we secured $15 million in federal funds to help build a new express lane from Fort Collins to Loveland.

And just last week, CDOT leveraged funding to start the planning process to add a third lane from Castle Rock to Monument.

This means that the required planning will be completed in under three years.

These are good first steps, but the cost of construction to bring I-25 into the modern world is still over $2 billion.

That’s more than CDOT’s total annual budget, which is almost entirely dedicated to maintenance.

We’re already squeezing every penny out of our transportation revenue but efficiencies can only get us so far.

With the gas tax unchanged since 1992, more fuel efficient cars and normal inflation: it’s basic math. It’s a funding problem.

We’ve had this debate for too long.

If talk could fill potholes we’d have the best roads in the country.

But the General Fund cannot adequately support the demands of core government services and capacity improvements in transportation.

There are some who believe we can pay for our infrastructure needs through cuts alone. But that can only happen if we demand major sacrifices from Coloradans.

If that’s what you want, introduce that bill. Make that case.

Tell us who loses healthcare or what schools have to close to add a mile of highway.

Coloradans share our desire to make these investments.

They know that our future economy demands a modern infrastructure.

Let’s examine all our options. Whether it’s new revenue, simplifying or replacing old tax streams, or a combination of both.

We can find a solution that clearly spells out to Coloradans exactly what they’re getting and how the money will be spent.

And how that funding can benefit rural and urban communities, support local needs and statewide projects, and balance transit options with highway expansions.

Lincoln once said: “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts…and beer.”

Let’s decide what we take to voters in November, and let’s make our case to the public.

Infrastructure is more than laying new roads and expanding transit: it’s running the fiber and deploying new technologies for reliable, affordable internet in every part of the state.

Businesses should be able to open their doors wherever they want; especially in smaller communities.

Every school, hospital, clinic and home should have high speed internet.

In rural Colorado, only 7 in 10 households have access.

Tonight, somewhere in one of these communities a high school student will sit in a parked car outside her town library. She’ll huddle over her laptop, face glowing from the screen as she tries to finish her paper, because it’s the only place she can get wifi.

This isn’t right.

Today, I’m announcing the creation of a broadband office to help us get from 70% to 85% coverage by the time we leave office and 100% by 2020.

We’ll work with industry and local civic leaders; people like Katelin Cook, Rio Blanco County’s economic development coordinator who recently helped Meeker and Rangely become some of the very first rural giga-bit communities in the entire country. She is here with us today.

In 1936, a Republican U.S. senator from our neighboring Nebraska championed the Rural Electrification Act to run the power lines that made countless family farms across the country more competitive.

Fiber optic cables are today’s power lines for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses.

These entrepreneurs helped pull us out of the Great Recession. Now, we need to pull together for them.

We need to make sure they’re fairly connected to other counties and countries. If they can’t play on a level field, our economy suffers and we all lose.

Thousands of Coloradans’ careers have shifted beneath their feet, but there are still thousands of new jobs that need to be filled, many of which don’t require college degrees.

But they do require skills, knowledge, and expertise.

We need to include pathways not just to four-year degrees but also to technical training and skills certificates for the many jobs in Colorado that require advanced skills like cybersecurity training.

Last year, when we created the National Cybersecurity Center–which is already a national leader in this critical area–we learned from industry that less than half of the 10,000 job openings in this field require a university degree.

Cybersecurity isn’t just about high profile breaches against big business and federal agencies.

Anyone with information or money to steal is at risk, and hackers are reaching through new windows and doors every day.

Colorado Springs is known as the place where world-class olympians train. Now, it is becoming a world-class destination to train our cyber workforce.

And even beyond cybersecurity, there is increasing demand for technical skills.

From high school students wanting to work as apprentices–to the many Coloradans who want a new career–either from passion or necessity–these jobs should be available for everyone.

If we do this right, there should be an opportunity for thousands of Coloradans to acquire skills either in classrooms or on the job that are career-focused and transferrable to different industries in the future.

In the last 18 months, foundations, corporations and the federal government have joined our cause and provided more than $15 million in grants to fund innovative public-private partnerships like Skillful and CareerWise Colorado, helping students and job seekers develop new skills for new careers.

Today, we are a national model for matching education with skills based training.

Sean Wybrant is Colorado’s Teacher of the Year. He has been teaching for 11 years at Palmer High in Colorado Springs, as he said, to “change the world.”

And he’s changing it by focusing on the one-third of our kids who won’t go on to four year or two year colleges.

He’s preparing the next generation for the career and technical jobs of tomorrow.

Tim Kistler is the Superintendent of the Peyton School District in El Paso County, where he helped open the Woods Manufacturing Program in an empty middle school.

It teaches students cutting edge skills needed in the woodworking industry.

We thank both Sean and Tim for helping to close the skills gap, and for making sure all students realize their potential.

Closing the gap means giving students a solid foundation for success at every step of their education, as they move from preschool through K-12, toward college, certificate, or apprenticeship and onto a good job.

Part of that work includes a common sense plan to fund education.

The constitutional budget constraints for school finance are the thorniest part of our fiscal thicket.

This July, the Gallagher Amendment will cause property taxes for schools to drop by $170 million.

In addition to addressing transportation, Speaker Duran, President Grantham, and minority leaders Guzman and Neville: let’s get our best minds together and find a way out of this thicket that respects taxpayers and gives all of our children the education they deserve.

From Towaoc to Julesburg, from Dinosaur to Campo, we are working to support business and stimulate growth.

We have one of the best economies in the country, but some rural communities struggle.

That’s why we have invested significant resources and focused all cabinet agencies in an effort to fully realize the expansion of our economy across the entire state.

Last summer, Blueprint 2.0 announced their support for initiatives that local communities identified: from tourism promotion and outdoor recreation, to tiny homes and affordable housing.

Our small towns represent a fraction of our total population, but they are a crucial piece of the fabric of our economy, and when small communities flourish, the whole state benefits.

We have improved access to the outdoors, partnered with local government and communities to improve and ultimately complete and connect 16 priority trails across the state.

Outdoor recreation generates 313,000 jobs in our state and over $34 billion in economic output, much of it in rural Colorado.

It is also one of the top reasons businesses and talented workers choose to come here.

As part of our Colorado the Beautiful initiative this summer we’ll be launching an interactive statewide trails map that will–for the first time ever–pull together over 20,000 miles of Colorado trails managed by over 100 local, state, and federal agencies.

Anyone hiking or biking will be able to see where they are and where they’re going on a map, take photos along the way and share those photos with others on the same trail.

This is one piece of our vision to get kids outside and exercising.

And thanks to the generosity of people like Jake Steinfeld–a nationally recognized fitness expert–three schools in the state will have a chance to win a brand new $100,000 dollar fitness center to help students get fit and stay healthy.

We want everyone to experience the beauty of our entire state, and we also want to make sure all regions have access to these tourism dollars.

We can’t wave a magic wand to diversify the economy throughout the state, but if we work together, we can support growth in any community that wants it.

We’re asking to establish a point person on the ground for rural economic development issues to expedite and speed resources to communities that need them:

In communities like Montrose where Colorado’s Job Training helped Al Head, here with us today, and his employees at Western Skyways; a company that re-manufactures one of the finest piston engines in the aviation industry, and markets it worldwide.

It’s why we have programs like Rural Jumpstart: to encourage companies to move into rural areas.

Companies like Prostar Geocorp and its employees in Grand Junction, where they provide geospatial intelligence software, and just last year won the APEX award for entrepreneurship.

It’s why we partner with small business owners and farmers on energy efficiency programs:

People like dairy farmer Mary Kraft from Morgan County, who will save up to $5000 a year in expenses, allowing her to focus on her bottom line.

Please join me in recognizing Al and Mary…

And promoting growth means allowing these companies the chance to compete equally on the global stage.

They can’t afford tariffs or trade wars.

Some may think job training and rural incentives aren’t glamorous–and there certainly aren’t

legions of lobbyists for the thousands who are unemployed or underemployed–but it’s how we build on our momentum…and engage the rural economies at the same time.

Our economic engine should be strong enough to pull everyone. Anyone willing to work hard enough should have a fair shot at a good paying job.

We’re bullish on partnering with rural economies on every intractable issue: from broadband to job training…to our energy economy and clean air and water.

With the support of both Republicans and Democrats, we have quadrupled the amount of energy we get from wind and sun in recent years….

…Costs of these technologies are dropping like a rock–while the clean energy industry provides jobs to over 60,000 Coloradans.

We’ve protected thousands of acres of open lands and rivers…while we’ve become one of the best states in the country for natural gas production…

…We have put the energy needs and costs of hard working Coloradans before any special interest agenda or false promise.

Clean, safe, and affordable Colorado-made energy is the best approach.

Colorado has led the country on moving to cleaner energy sources… we can–and working together–we should have cleaner air at little–or no–additional cost to consumers.

When we come together, we create an environment that’s good for business and people.

Likewise, in the first year of Colorado’s water plan, we made progress on every measurable goal.

…The Water Conservation Board has a strong funding plan to ensure we stay on track…so farmers can keep feeding millions…while we protect our environment.

And as with all of our infrastructure, Colorado should lead…

…because we all know states are the laboratories of democracy.

We are relentlessly innovative–in the face of challenges old and new…

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Across our state, on almost every rung of the economic ladder, Coloradans are being priced out of housing they can afford.

We have a housing crisis, plain and simple.

Many families are stuck or held down.

Too much of their income goes to rent…

and homeownership is too far out of reach.

Too many people and not enough units adds up to unaffordable rents and skyrocketing home prices.

I’ve said it before: we need more affordable housing.

Part of the answer is the construction defects legislation we almost passed last year and we WILL pass this year.

There has to be a compromise that balances homeowner protections for faulty construction and still allows developers to build affordable housing throughout Colorado.

And this isn’t the only pocketbook issue we need to address.

Our prosperity doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if Coloradans can’t afford health insurance…

if they’re not healthy enough to work or enjoy this great state…

We committed to making Colorado the Healthiest State in the nation

And we’ve made great progress in this goal:

Since 2011 we’ve helped over 600,000 people get basic health insurance, and 94% of Coloradans now have coverage.

We believe that basic health care is a right, not a privilege…

and thanks to the tireless work of our health cabinet and legislators, expanded coverage means more people will seek the right care in the right place, at the right time.

We all save money when people stay healthy or get treatment in doctor’s offices instead of emergency rooms.

Over the last six years we’ve launched transformative programs to control our Medicaid costs.

We’re emphasizing preventive care and giving people the tools to manage their diseases…

And with the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne, we will address underlying drivers of health care costs…to make it more affordable.

That’s a lot of good news, but we all know actions in Washington could threaten the progress we’ve made.

I think most of us would agree that the last thing we would want is Congress making all of our decisions around healthcare.

If changes are inevitable I will fight for a replacement plan that protects the people who are covered now and doesn’t take us backward.

We look forward…to working with all of you to pass commonsense proposals to increase transparency, provide more choices, cover more people, and lower the cost of health insurance for all Coloradans.

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In everything we do–from building our infrastructure to incentivizing businesses to creating jobs to being the healthiest state in the country, we can always be better.

Much of what government does can be measured.

And by evaluating our results, we can make government more efficient, more effective and more responsive.

That’s why two months ago we released the Governor’s Dashboard–the latest step in our goal in making Colorado the most accountable state in the country.

Think of it as the scoreboard that shows how government is performing–on clean rivers and streams, quick service at the DMV, or job placement at our workforce centers.

It’s an easy way for Coloradans to see where we’ve been…where we’re going…and how we’re going to get there.

We’re also using technology to make life easier for our customers–we’ve hired the country’s first digital transformation officer, and later this year we’ll be combining a number of services across multiple agencies into a single, easy to use app.

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House Speaker Crisanta Duran (D-Denver)

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House Speaker Crisanta Duran

Let’s start this session by making housing more available to middle-class Coloradans without jeopardizing the rights of consumers.

Before opening day, President Grantham and I said this may be the year when we can make progress on construction defects reform.

Well today is the day. Today, progress has come.

President Grantham and I, with Assistant Minority Leader Wist and Senator Williams, are introducing a bill that will address high insurance rates, one of the root causes making it harder to build more new condos.

This bipartisan problem-solving is not new to Colorado.

Together, Republicans and Democrats, we’ve done things to improve the lives of many – like when we passed bipartisan legislation to open a pipeline between young Coloradans just entering the workforce and the careers that await them in Colorado’s fast-growing advanced industries and technology sector.

The law created an internship program allowing Colorado high school and college students to gain on-the-job experience in high-tech industries.

Relius Medical, a manufacturer of specialized medical devices in Colorado Springs, won a spot in the program, hired three interns through Pikes Peak Community College and recently promoted two of those interns to be full-time employees.

Emerson Hauptli, one of those former interns, is with us today, along with Eric Knutson, the CFO of Relius. On behalf of more than 200 interns and more than 100 Colorado companies that have benefited from this program, gentlemen, please stand to be recognized.

We also recognize that a good job may not be enough to be able to afford a decent place to live, which is why we passed, with bipartisan support, tax-free savings accounts for first-time homebuyers and a tax credit for developers to build or redevelop affordable housing. Today we have with us Stan Strelecki, a Navy veteran whose home was developed with the assistance of a credit from the program.

Mr. Strelecki, I’m glad that together we could assist you, along with thousands of others across Colorado, to have a safe and affordable place to live. Please stand so we can thank you for your service to our country.

Lastly, I want to recognize the bipartisan work that went into helping Coloradans who otherwise would have had no chance at a college education reach their American Dream.

In 2013 we passed a law called ASSET. The bill made in-state tuition available to students who had grown up in Colorado and graduated from a Colorado high school, regardless of their immigration status.

Now more than a thousand students – students who were brought to this country as young children and are Coloradans in every way except for a piece of paper — have a chance to do what would otherwise be nearly impossible: earn a college degree.

One of those students is Daniela Murillo, a Denver resident since the age of 4 and now a student at CU Denver. The state of Colorado invested in Daniela’s K-12 education, and now, under ASSET, we are helping her reach her potential by earning a college degree and making a bigger contribution to Colorado’s prosperity.

Daniela, thank you for joining us here today.

Emerson, Eric, Stan and Daniela are symbols of the progress we’ve made in Colorado.

They are real-life examples of what is possible when we put partisanship aside and put people first.

For them and many thousands more, we have made Colorado’s celebrated quality of life more accessible.

This is Colorado’s promise. Let’s build on it by solving real problems.

Let’s make the road to prosperity a little easier. Literally.

Let’s reach bipartisan consensus on a statewide transportation plan – a plan that overhauls our fast-decaying infrastructure and meets the needs of our rapidly growing state.

We need a plan that focuses not just on moving cars down the road, but on moving people. We need to accommodate our state’s increasing productivity and population, which is growing by 250 people per day.

Anyone who’s been on I-25 at rush hour, anywhere from Fort Collins to Pueblo, knows the need is real.

With a statewide transportation plan that infuses new resources into our state’s most critical needs, we put more Coloradans to work. We improve our state’s quality of life. And we increase the productivity of our Colorado businesses.

Almost half of our bridges need preventive maintenance. Almost eighty percent of our highways will need repairs or major reconstruction in the next ten years.

We all know that potholes and rough roads are causing damage to our tires and cars.

Additional funding will allow us to improve our roads and bridges, to maintain our existing infrastructure and avoid costly repairs, and to create more transportation options for more people, including bus and rail service and flexible transportation options for elderly Coloradans and those with disabilities.

I am pleased to say members of all four caucuses are engaged in promising discussions to create a bipartisan proposal to send to Colorado voters that is comprehensive, that will provide new resources, and that will benefit our entire state – from the rural eastern plains and Western Slope to our busy urban corridor.

Let’s send the voters a plan with dedicated transportation projects that are transparent and accountable to taxpayers and won’t take money from our schools. Let’s make sure that promises made are promises kept.

While transportation will be a big topic this year, there’s another we cannot lose focus on.

Education remains one of our state’s greatest challenges.

While some of our schools are thriving, others are struggling mightily.

The state simply doesn’t have the money right now to make sure every boy and girl in Colorado has the tools to succeed and reach their full potential.

Some students are being left behind. We’re missing an opportunity to teach thousands of young Coloradans who need vital 21st-century skills in computer science and digital literacy.

The system is not serving all of the people of Colorado.

We’ve been getting by with band-aids for a while, but it is not enough.

I say let’s have a real discussion about ways to actually solve our education issues for the long term. Let’s make a case to Coloradans that something needs to be done, and offer some ideas to do it.

I have heard from many of you some very interesting ideas – some that are new, some from years past – for how we begin to untangle our budget mess, which is the root cause of our education struggles. These ideas are coming from both sides of the aisle.

Let me be clear: if we do nothing, our state’s continued prosperity is at risk. If we cannot fund our schools, if we cannot provide families an affordable college education, then we are not delivering what the people of Colorado need.

My door is always open to anyone with a constructive concept to move us forward. I don’t care what it is or who it comes from.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock)

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House Minority Leader Patrick Neville

To my fellow members, we have a lot of work to do this session. Many issues from prior sessions remain unresolved today. Our state roads continue to deteriorate, Coloradans are still struggling to purchase a home of their own, businesses continue to be inundated with new regulations and many school districts are being forced to do more with less. Yet while we may have philosophical differences about how to solve some of these problems, we are all here to accomplish the same goals. My commitment this session is to objectively evaluate every proposed solution to Colorado’s most pressing problems and I hope everyone in this room makes that same commitment.

This election cycle was contentious, but now we can begin embracing our strengths to help solve Colorado’s problems. It is important to remember that while most of us sit on our respective sides of this room, all of Colorado is represented here, and we all aim to make Colorado the best it can be.    

When I decided to run for representative there was one central tenet that has guided me through this position – I will support government when it promotes freedom and justice, and I will oppose it when it stands in the way and makes the life of an individual, a family, or a business more difficult. Government serves very important roles, but it is inherently intrusive and consumptive. Every law, rule and regulation requires tax dollars to implement, enforce, and document. While well-intentioned, every program we create in this building requires more tax dollars. We are all aware of the challenges we have in our budget – but members, every year we have to make difficult decisions. We will always have to prioritize how we spend peoples’ tax dollars.

This year our budget will exceed $28 billion dollars, potentially more than a billion dollars over last year’s budget. Yet we are already hearing that we’ll need to make deep cuts in order to balance the budget. How can we make deep cuts when we have $1 billion more than last year? Members we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem!

Every family must budget with a finite amount of money, simply getting more money is not a viable option. We are no different here. We have the funds to solve our top priorities, and yes, other programs may need to be reduced, but through greater fiscal responsibility in this building we can help revive stagnant economies in this state – and that will give us more budget flexibility in the future.

The bottom line is our general fund revenue continues to grow and we have the funds to address Colorado’s most pressing needs. Members in this chamber and our colleagues in the Senate simply need to focus on our top priorities and commit to responsible spending.

We talk a lot about priorities in this building, but the truth is, if we have lots of top priorities we actually have none. Once again, Republicans’ top priority will be transportation. No other issue in front of us impacts commerce, education, public safety and revenue more than transportation. Parents drive their kids to school on our roads, businesses depend on employees and customers travelling to their facilities, oil, gas and agricultural companies depend on roads to transport their product, and the state depends on tourism. There are countless more examples of why transportation must be our top priority, yet there are elected officials in this building that say funding transportation is only something we can do when we have extra money.

Members, if we treat transportation funding as an afterthought our roads will get worse. This legislature controls the General Fund and prioritizing that revenue for transportation is something we can control without asking taxpayers for more money and depending on an election. We have discussed bonding for new transportation projects in the past and members on both sides of the aisle have supported that proposal. This year let’s finally give transportation the support it needs and prioritize general fund revenue to service a TRANS bond bill.

Many of you might remember one of Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso’s most common phrases, ‘the best way we can help the business community is to leave them alone, to do no harm.’ For five years Republicans have raised concerns about excessive rules and regulations on the business community and tried to pass a meaningful regulatory reform bill. Let me put this in perspective, since the Republican’s first attempt at reform in 2012, 2,592 rules have been adopted. That is over 77,000 pages of rules Colorado’s business community must read and implement. Even the most well-intentioned rules still require business owners to review and implement changes to their businesses, which takes time and resources away from their normal operations. While there are ways for small businesses to be a part of the discussion, owners seldom have the time to stay current on the rule making process and engage in the discussion.

It is expensive for small businesses to comply with regulations, and too often businesses are not consulted about rules that cost them money. This session Republicans will once again try to help Colorado businesses with legislation that places more responsibility on state agencies to study the potential impacts of new rules ahead of promulgation , and look for ways to help businesses understand new rules rather than to fine and penalize them. Rules and regulations serve an important role, but they have become excessive and changes are necessary to keep Colorado welcome to small business.

As Speaker Duran mentioned, helping people purchase a home is a critical issue. We have had many conversations about attainable for-sale housing in past sessions, but we have failed to enact any meaningful solutions. I want to be very clear, homeowners should absolutely have recourse to remedy poor construction, but we cannot let a dysfunctional system that only benefits lawyers continue to prevent people from attaining a home of their own. Home ownership is the cornerstone of every sound financial plan. This session Republicans are pushing for policies that will get builders building for-sale attainable housing. While there are other issues contributing to this problem, the lack of for-sale attainable homes is the primary cause, and if we don’t address it, Colorado’s housing crisis will get worse.

We have strong bipartisan support for this legislation, and people are counting on us to solve this problem. Let’s make this the year we pass comprehensive construction litigation reform.

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We need to protect a parent’s role in their child’s life and realize that parents know better than we in this room do. Parents should have the right to make decisions about their children’s education and their health. The ability of parents to pursue the best education for their children should not be an option solely for the rich, but should be an option for all parents. We need to fund every school option equally and give parents the choice of what school best suits their children’s needs. School funding should follow students through their educational path, and we need to focus on trade schools and ensure today’s curriculum aligns with today’s workforce.

Our Constitution was created to ensure freedom remains the foundation of our society, it is what every service member swears to protect and what so many have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend. Freedom is the defining quality of this nation and we as elected officials have an obligation to legislate for freedom, not against it. I hope my support for more freedom is shared by everyone in this room and can be something that unites rather than divides us.

We have seen the result when the government gets involved in the private sector, the Affordable Care Act is a perfect example. Obamacare continues to fall short on goals and projections and has been an unmitigated disaster leading to skyrocketing healthcare costs. I am hopeful our healthcare system can find new life with purposeful free market reforms that help lower the costs of premiums and address the impact Medicaid has on our budget.

While Colorado’s economy is slowly improving, but wages are not keeping up with the cost of living, and many regions of this state are struggling. We need to make Colorado a business friendly place again, give the private sector the space it needs to innovate, add good-paying jobs and feel confident to invest in this state – that is the only way to get every part of Colorado’s economy on track.

The government picking winners and losers is a failed strategy and Colorado should be the leader in energy production. It’s time to revitalize Colorado’s energy economy. When it comes to oil, gas, and coal we need to be open for business. This is why I’m calling on the Governor and his party to remove the regulatory noose around the necks of oil, gas, and coal immediately.

Members, it is possible for us govern without resorting to more rules and regulations. It’s been almost a century since the Colorado Revised Statutes was one book. Today, it takes 25 volumes to document our current laws. We cannot attempt to solve every societal problem with a new statute in this book. I can tell you that strategy will require far more money from taxpayers’ pockets and result in far less individual freedom. We have to let common-sense prevail, not every issue is black and white and not every problem requires a statutory or regulatory fix.

Let’s begin this session focused on prioritizing transportation, empowering small business and looking for ways to get government out of the private sector’s way. Let’s help lower the cost of doing business in Colorado, and help incentivize more growth. Let’s let the free market inspire more innovation. Let’s support personal freedoms and individual liberty.

Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City)

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Senate President Kevin Grantham

It is to this end that we strive: to preserve and protect the God-given rights of the individual, the we in we the people, not to grant them, but to fight to ensure them. To fight on their behalf for things like:

Relief from burdensome, complex taxes

Relief from the oppressive regulatory burdens placed on the people and businesses of all sizes

Working towards greater accountability for state agencies in their rule creation process

Creating more opportunities for parental choice in education

Equality in school funding

Reprioritizing state budget obligations into truly core governmental functions

Reaffirming our commitment to protect the taxpayer…the People… from the heavy hand of government reaching into their pockets for more money without their direct permission.

For many of these we may find common ground across the aisle. For others we may not. But that’s okay. There will be discussion. There will be dialogue.

We have already shown over the last two years that working together is not an impossibility. In 2015, we all came together–Republicans and Democrats, Senate and House–to send 367 pieces of legislation to the governor. In 2016, we again came together to send 387 bills to the governor for his signature. Not all bills will make it there, but the discussion continues, the dialogue goes on, and the republic survives.

We have demonstrated in a remarkable fashion our ability to work together on all those areas where we share common interests and goals. We can do it again!

Perhaps one of the most ominous issues facing us today that resonates with both sides of the aisle and to our constituents in all 35 Senate Districts is the problem of the deteriorating condition of our transportation infrastructure and funding to significantly address the problem. The problem is recognized by all. The need to address it is agreed to by all. How to address it remains a topic of discussion and debate. But that discussion is happening and continues to happen.

Our current road and highway infrastructure needs exceed $9 Billion including $3.5 Billion in shovel ready projects on the priority list awaiting funding. With such a significant number of projects waiting for us to act and with such a steep initial price tag to get them started, some creative solutions may be called for…but solutions that respect the priorities on both sides of the aisle and most importantly, the wishes and will of the Colorado taxpayer and voter.

Getting most of these projects underway in a timely manner will require the ability to leverage our revenue streams through Revenue Anticipation Notes, or Bonds. These will require consistent future revenue streams that can be committed to the repayment of the bonds. With the help of our Transportation Committee Chair, Senator Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulphur Springs), we are dedicated to working with the leadership and members of the House of Representatives to arrive at solutions that we can present to the voters of Colorado – solutions that will hold faith with the taxpayers of Colorado and their desire for accountability for their dollars. We must demonstrate to them that, if we are going to ask them for permission to go into debt to fund these projects, and if we are going to ask them for more out of their own pockets to fund these bond payments, then we must also demonstrate the commitment to reprioritize the dollars they’ve already entrusted to us by dedicating existing general fund money…if this is truly a priority.

There are yet many details to work out but the potential is great this session for a truly bi-partisan solution to our roads and highway infrastructure funding.

This is not the only area in which we can find bipartisan solutions to a significant problem here in this state: the other is the problem of construction litigation reform and attainable housing.

Years ago, Colorado officials passed a law that makes it nearly impossible to afford new condos, townhomes, and other multi-family housing units. We in this 71st General Assembly have inherited this problem – and we must solve it.

Coloradans agree we must fix this problem and put petty politics behind us to do it. 14 local communities have already passed laws to fix this policy. These are democrats and republicans agreeing to make homeownership easier for our citizens. Speaker of the House Duran and I agree that the General Assembly needs to take the lead with a diverse group who all realize that home ownership is the path to the American dream, and we believe that the few, unreasonable, special interests who oppose the necessary changes will not be able to continue standing in the way of Coloradans who want to own their future by owning their home.

To this end, a diverse and bipartisan group of lawmakers – Senators Scott, Tate, Smallwood, Hill, and Williams, along with Representatives Wist and Garnett — have taken upon themselves the great task of solving this problem. Again, through this bipartisan collaboration we will be able to solve a problem for all of Colorado.

In addition to these efforts we will also remain committed to reducing the regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles that inhibit business startups, expansions, and relocations. We will continue to work to slow the relentless production of new rules, which average 530 per year, 15,000 pages per year, over the last decade, rules that hamstring our small businesses across this state.

With this in mind, comes Senator Neville’s (R-Littleton) Senate Bill 1, The Regulatory Relief Act of 2017 where we will seek to alleviate the fiscal impact of burdensome regulations on small business. Small businesses will be given a window of time to cure minor operational or administrative violations instead of being immediately issued a fine. The bill will further require the current stakeholder process for rulemaking to solicit input for small businesses on those proposed rules that have potential negative impact on them.

Also to this end, Senator Martinez-Humenik (R-Arvada) is introducing Senate Bill 2. This bill will simplify the rule review process for state agencies by eliminating DORA’s scheduling authority and placing reviews on the standardized 3-year timeline. Ultimately, this legislation will simplify the bureaucracy and ensure timely review of the rules that beleaguer small businesses in all four corners of our state.

Other potential efficiencies in government are available to us in some of our larger agencies. In particular it is time for us to shed some of the dead weight of failed government policy. Senator Smallwood (R-Parker) will introduce Senate Bill 3 which will repeal the Colorado Health Care Exchange. This is long overdue.

To help improve access of our Medicaid recipients to their healthcare providers Senator Tate (R-Evergreen) will introduce Senate Bill 4. Current law prohibits Medicaid enrollees from seeing a provider of their choice because a provider cannot bill a Medicaid enrollee for services provided. This bill expands access to health care by permitting individuals enrolled in Medicaid to seek care at a provider that does not accept Medicaid. This enables individuals to bypass waiting periods, receive better quality care, and access specialty care providers.

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All of these ideas, all of these bills are concepts that we can come together on. All of these are problems that we can face together and offer the people of Colorado real solutions. Solutions that both sides of the aisle can share in. Solutions in which both sides can participate. Not for ourselves certainly, but for our bosses, our constituents, the citizens of Colorado, ‘…the People’.

We the people!

This is for whom we work. This is what brings all 35 of us together, all 100 of us together in this 71st General Assembly. We won’t always agree, to pretend on this day that we are living that fairy tale does all of us here in this room, and outside of this room, a disservice. But we do agree on some things. Occasionally, we agree on many things! This year, maybe it will only be a few things, but my hope, is that those things that we can and will come together on are of such great import and significance that they will truly benefit all Coloradans. We the people.

These are attainable goals – together. If past performance is indicative of future success, then we already know what great things we can accomplish together. This is my reason for optimism, for hope, in the successes that lie before us in these 120 days.

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Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman (D-Denver)

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Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman

As I begin the last years of my Senate career, I cannot help but take a look back at how much our state has changed in six years. Colorado’s population was estimated to be 5,029,324 then, and currently stands at 5,540,545, and growing each month. That’s a 10 percent increase in six years.

Six years ago, our unemployment rate was 8.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of November 2016, it had fallen to 3.2% — among the lowest we have seen in years.

However, let us not forget that as we’ve seen unemployment drop in these six years, we have seen sharp increases in homelessness among our students, particularly in the Denver, Pueblo, and Mesa County areas.

Six years ago, there was no Colorado Water Plan. It was in 2013 that the Governor issued his Executive Order calling for the Water Conservation Board to create the state’s first ever water plan. Coloradans from the north, to the south, to the east, to the west depend on this precious resource for everything from their farms to their cities. This living document will guide Colorado in protecting and preserving its water for years to come.

Six years ago, our state budget was $18.2 billion. Last year’s budget was $27 billion.

A civil union was not part of the law six years ago. The legalization of retail marijuana had yet to be approved through Amendment 64. The only beer sold in grocery stores was the 3.2% kind.

In these six years, technology has quickly nudged us forward. Entrepreneurs are inspiring and creating new tools that are quickly changing our world. Six years ago, you could never have imagined ordering a car with just a touch on a screen. Who would have thought even six years ago, the 71st General Assembly would be discussing bills relating to the operation of self-driving vehicles.

In these six years, Colorado’s blue collar jobs workforce has gotten older. With that comes the need for young people to be trained and step into to fill these jobs. While visiting Pueblo Community College’s welding program, I got to see how the school is showing Colorado’s young people that you don’t have to attend a four-year college and go into debt to get a good paying job. One welding student I met, 18-year-old Brett Salazar, will graduate in two years with the skills he needs to succeed, and thanks to the program, will enter into a good-paying job at Vestas in Pueblo. Brett’s success shows how important trade schools and community colleges are to training young people to replenish our retiring workforce.

We must also be mindful about how advancements in technology like automation are rapidly changing what jobs need to be filled. Trade schools and community colleges will be important to bridging the gap with the manufacturing world to ensure the “new collar” jobs of tomorrow can be filled with skilled workers.

Agriculture has changed as well. Thanks to Amendment 64’s passage in 2012, farmers in Colorado now grow hemp as a cash crop, with demand growing for its use in making things like paper and clothes. And I know many of you in this chamber have sampled some of Colorado’s renowned craft beers. Not only are we ranked third nationwide in craft beer production, but thanks to Colorado farmers, our country is now the world’s leading producer of hops, surpassing Germany! One thing that has not changed in farming is the dependence upon the weather.

Today, six years later, I am honored to have been chosen by my colleagues to lead the Senate Democratic Caucus, and honored to work with President Grantham and the Senate Republicans to address the many needs and challenges facing our state.

And those challenges are many.

We have been elected to respond to these challenges, and Coloradans expect nothing less from us. We can no longer neglect the need to fund our crumbling infrastructure, nor fail to address the funding needed to repair and build roads and bridges. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association found 521 of Colorado’s bridges to be structurally deficient — meaning key elements of the structure are considered to be in poor or worse condition! That’s over 500 bridges Colorado families drive on that are falling apart. As our population has grown over these past years, we have seen traffic congestion get worse, and our roads fall into further disrepair with more potholes. The people of Colorado should be able to drive their kids to school and drive to work on safe and reliable roads and bridges. Dollars for transportation means putting people back to work in good paying jobs, and making travel safer.

But we cannot accomplish these feats through proposals that would cut deeply into our already underfunded classrooms, and vital services Coloradans depend upon.

Therefore, I urge us to also consider the option of moving the Hospital Provider Fee into an enterprise fund. As you all know, last year every major newspaper editorial board, business chambers of commerce, and rural groups in Colorado came out publicly in support of moving the Hospital Provider Fee into an enterprise fund. This solution was at our fingertips last year, but partisan lines kept us from getting it done.

Moving the Hospital Provider Fee into an enterprise, in fact, honors the voters’ intent on TABOR, and would not alter the TABOR cap or raise taxes. It would simply isolate the fee, and remove it from the general fund where it was improperly co-mingled in the first place.

As you know, in the Governor’s current proposed budget, we see a $195 million reduction in hospital provider fee collections. That’s $195 million lost in matching federal dollars to hospitals.

Hospitals in rural parts of our state hugely benefit from the federal supplemental money from the hospital provider fee. Last year, rural hospitals paid $45,096,427 in Hospital Provider Fee funds, and actually received $147,542,829 in supplemental federal dollars. These hospitals not only care for so many hardworking families and their children, but they create jobs across the state, allowing hardworking families to stay in the communities they love and call home.

Members: We are not in a position to pick winners and losers by trading the health of our working families for the health of our roads. We can, and should prioritize both, and we have a solution to do that. But we had that solution last year, too. If not this solution, then what? Senate

Democrats are willing to listen, but we need to get something done.

Let me remind you, every year, we hear that our legislative session accomplished little. The University of Denver put out a special report on the role and scope and expectations of the state legislature, which implies that there is a belief lawmakers don’t know or understand how to work in a bipartisan way to get things done for the people of Colorado. This year, let’s work out solutions so we don’t have to choose between the health of our working families and the health of our roads.

For our side of the aisle, a major priority will be protecting the progress Colorado has made in being at the forefront of the new energy economy. We have been extremely fortunate to be a nationwide leader on energy issues. This is in part due to the leadership and vision of our state and nationally elected officials, including U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, who supported the federal tax credit for wind and solar, making them a viable option in a competitive market. Our utility companies are taking advantage of these opportunities, and I want to give a shout out to some of these companies, including Tri-State and Xcel Energy, who have invested in renewable energy in ways that benefits our environment, communities, and Colorado’s economy. Not only are renewables like wind and solar cleaner, but they are cheaper to produce and more efficient.

Companies like Xcel and Tri-State have shown that being profitable companies and being good stewards of the environment absolutely go hand in hand. Let me give you another example.

It would take looking back further than just 6 years to understand and appreciate Colorado’s mining history. While there are challenges facing mining industries, Colorado’s economy continues to be enhanced by some important mining operations today. I was fortunate and delighted to visit the Climax mine in Leadville recently. The mine began its operations in 1918.

Its molybdenum is used mainly in steel alloys, and early operations produced the metal for armored battle vehicles in both World Wars.

Climax is an economic giant in the High Country. Summit and Lake Counties have received millions of dollars in tax revenue from Climax since 2012.

The continuing legacy of excellence in environmental stewardship by Climax was celebrated in August, 2014 with the unveiling of their $200 million dollar water treatment plant. The treated water is discharged into Ten Mile Creek, which flows into local fisheries and recreation areas. They are at the forefront of water treatment in the national and international mining industry — proving that mining and care of the environment can stand together.

The Climax mine has completed several multi-million dollar environmental restoration projects where land that was previously affected by mining and mineral processing operations have been restored to a condition that mimics the pre-operations habitat, vegetation, and wildlife ecology.

I have invited Dr. Gail Mizner, and her husband, the President of Climax Mine, Michael Kendrick, to be with us today to accept our appreciation. Michael Kendrick is a graduate of the Colorado School of Mines and Denver University, and has shown through the work Climax mine has done, and continues to do, shows that industry and the environment can work closely together.

Please join me in thanking him for his service to the management of the mine, and for being one of Colorado’s finest employers. Michael, please stand.

One of our most important goals is keeping Colorado at the forefront of the new energy economy, as it has been for well over a decade since the passage of Colorado’s very own renewable energy standard in 2004. We will support efforts at the state and local levels to conserve our natural environment, and address the economic benefits of wind, solar, and energy efficiency. I would add that there are now more than 62,000 clean energy jobs in Colorado. With the establishment of our Deputy Minority Leader for Conservation, Clean Energy, and Climate Change, we aim to work closely with representatives of all energy industries so we can find bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing Colorado’s energy future. We want to be clear: our intention is not to demote oil and gas, but to promote a formidable renewable energy portfolio, and a sustainable, clean natural environment.

That’s why we, like the vast majority of Coloradans, will continue to hold strong in defending our public lands and ensuring they stay public. Coloradans value these lands as they are part of our heritage and the very soul of our state, and we will not step away from embracing this value.

Our lands are not for sale to the highest bidder.

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All across this great state of Colorado, there are many challenges. We hear about them, we read about them, and sometimes we experience them firsthand.

Towns losing jobs and people because a mine shuts down or closes.

A farmer’s crop is lost because a flooding creek erodes the land, and takes away the floodgate.

A rural school lacks science and math teachers.

A family grieves the early death of a child killed by a drunk driver.

Families lack healthcare, and are not able to afford the costs of keeping their families on quality health insurance.

But in Colorado, there are many resources to fight the challenges. 35 of them are sitting in this chamber. Some of a community’s greatest assets are its leaders. Leaders who listen, who hear the cries of their people or their land. You all are those resources, and I am proud to serve with you.

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Here are the links to the full texts of the five prepared speeches:

For news-media coverage of the opening of the legislative session and various issues, read:

Hickenlooper plays it safe with State of the State,” by Marianne Goodland, The Colorado Independent, January 12th.

Hickenlooper seeks road funding, construction defects reform in State of State speech,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 12th.

Colorado governor calls for tax ballot measure to address transportation,” by Brian Eason and John Frank, The Denver Post, January 12th.

Early Colorado bills range from tax breaks to protections for oil/gas companies,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 12th.

How Colorado lawmakers are reacting to Donald Trump—with state laws,” by Corey Hutchins, The Colorado Independent, January 12th.

Opening Day at the Colorado General Assembly: One day down, 119 to go,” by Marianne Goodland, The Colorado Independent, January 11th.

Republicans push to repeal state health care exchange in partisan start to 2017 session,” by John Frank, The Denver Post, January 11th.

Partisanship in the Donald Trump era overshadows first day of Colorado legislative session,” by Brian Eason and John Frank, The Denver Post, January 11th.

Opening day at the Colorado Capitol: Roads, housing, energy, health care are big themes,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 11th

First day Colorado legislative bills target health exchange, construction defects reform,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 11th.

Colorado’s legislative session should be wild ride,” by J. Adrian Stanley, The Colorado Springs Independent, January 11th.

Colorado legislative session brings new hope for regulatory reform” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 11th.

2017 Legislature: Colorado lawmakers get down to business,” by Mark Harden, The Denver Business Journal, January 11th.

New session, same issues: Why will 2017 be any different in Colorado politics?” by Brian Eason and John Frank, The Denver Post, January 10th.

Hoping for compromise as Colorado readies its 2017 legislative session,” editorial, The Denver Post, January 10th.

Seven education storylines to watch as the Colorado General Assembly gets to work,” by Nicholas Garcia, Chalkbeat Colorado, January 9th.


Broad Coalition Praises Bi-Partisan Push to Increase Transportation Funding

In reaction to opening day speeches Wednesday by the four legislative leaders of the Colorado General Assembly, a statewide coalition of business organizations and leaders, public officials, community leaders, environmental groups and concerned citizens issued a news media release that praised the legislative leaders who pledged to seek a way to increase transportation funding by urging them to find “a long-term, sustainable funding source . . . “

In the release, Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President of State and Federal Government Relations, said “Transportation is our priority this year because it is absolutely critical to job growth and a healthy economy. Our members are committed to working with legislators to ensure that we fund our transportation infrastructure.”

The release noted that the primary source of funds for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is the state gas tax, which is 22 cents per gallon, but it has not been increased in 26 years.  Meanwhile, vehicles have become considerably more fuel-efficient, which means less revenue for CDOT.   CDOT has a laundry list of $9 billion in needed improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure.

Ed Sealover, veteran statehouse reporter for The Denver Business Journal, wrote:

Loren Furman, a senior vice president of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry who has been involved with the transportation-funding negotiations, said that Colorado residents feel it is important to have some give and take if asked to pony up more money — possibly in regard to the amount of taxes they are being asked to pay to the state now. She added that it’s extremely important to keep everyone at the same table discussing the wide range of solutions being considered.

“There’s a way to find relief for Coloradans right now through legislation … in return for a commitment for the taxpayers to support the transportation funding needs we have,” Furman said.

Members of the coalition include CACI, the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Contractors Association, the Metro Mayors Caucus Transportation Task Force, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Colorado Association of Transit Agencies, Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, Progressive 15, CLUB 20, Action 22, Move Colorado and Fix Colorado Roads.

For more information on transportation issues, contact Loren at 303.866.9642.


Senate GOP Seeks CACI Member Input on Burdensome State Regulations

Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker) is seeking comments from CACI members about laws and regulations that business leaders find burdensome.

“The red tape dispenser of government has generated nearly 5,300 new rules in the past decade–averaging nearly 530 new rules per year—totaling almost 157,000 pages of fine print,” Senator Holbert said in a news media release.  The Senate GOP has made “increasing efficiency and streamlining government” a top priority this session, he explained.

Senator Holbert is asking CACI members and other businesses across Colorado to send their list of problematic regulations before next Tuesday.

CACI members with questions about this request should contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642


Gov. Hickenlooper Will Not Issue Air Quality Executive Order

The night before Colorado’s 2017 State Legislature was set to begin work, Governor Hickenlooper came to the same conclusion he reached back in August of 2016:

“I think the response — the pushback — from the executive order was so intense that the potential benefits were outweighed by the collateral damage.  That being said, I continue to hold it up as a vision (for reducing emissions).”

— Governor John Hickenlooper, 1/10/2017

Those who have worked closely on Colorado’s environmental protection plans feel the Governor’s decision is the right one for the future of bipartisan agreements in Colorado.

“CACI members active in our Energy & Environment Council are relieved that the Governor has chosen to stand down on a draft executive order that was not founded upon bipartisan agreement, and would have singled out power generators from the broader commercial, industrial and consumer activities in Colorado that contribute CO2 and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Progress on these issues is only possible during the balance of the Governor’s last term by working to build consensus for measures that are cost-effective, fair and reasonable.”

–John Jacus, CACI Energy & Environment Committee Chair

Background: Last August, the Associated Press (AP) acquired a leaked draft of a five-page Executive Order from Governor Hickenlooper’s Office which outlined a proposed CO2 emissions reduction mandate.  At that time, the Governor determined the fallout from his proposed order was greater than the benefits he sought.

Much like Hickenlooper said last August, the Governor is continuing to push Colorado in the pursuit of CO2 emission reductions, despite a Supreme Court stay on implementation of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), and despite Colorado being one of the 29 states pursuing legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s CPP.

Within the Executive Order draft published by the AP, Governor Hickenlooper was prepared to require:

  • A 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 2025, as compared to 2012 levels.
  • Followed by a 35 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 2030, as compared to 2012 levels.
  • For reference:  The CPP reduction levels would have been 32 percent reduction by 2030, with states receiving specific mandates.  For Colorado, the CPP target range was 31 -38 percent reduction (depending on how levels were measures), compared with 2005 emissions levels.

CACI Welcomes Bill Skewes to the CACI Governmental Affairs Team!

Bill Skewes

CACI is pleased to announce that Bill Skewes has joined our CACI lobby team and will be lobbying on legislation relating to energy and environmental issues, health care issues, and will be staffing the Energy & Environment and Health Care Councils.

Bill is the Principal of Skewes Government Affairs, LLC and brings many years of experience in governmental affairs.  Prior to starting his own lobbying firm, Bill served as the Chief of Staff for three Republican leaders in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2010 to 2016.  Before becoming Chief of Staff, Bill was a contract lobbyist and also spent more than six years in the Governor’s Office.  Under Governor Owens, Bill served as Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting and advised the Budget Director and Governor on fiscal issues concerning Colorado’s state budget.

Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Bill was an attorney in private practice. His practice focused on state and local property and excise tax controversies, as well as federal income, estate, and gift taxation.  Bill holds degrees from Dartmouth College (B.A. in Government) and the University of Denver (J.D. and LL.M. in Taxation).

CACI is thrilled to have Bill as part of the CACI team and he will be a tremendous asset to our CACI members.  Bill can be reached at bill@skewesga.com or by phone at 303-765-4766 regarding any questions on energy and environment or health care issues.


Federal Policy News

Federal Notes

  • Since Jan. 3:  Congress has been in session, focusing primarily on President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominee hearings, healthcare and tax reform proposals
  • Jan 12th: The Senate passed a budget resolution around 1:30am Thursday, which will act as the vehicle for proposals to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), through a process known as budget reconciliation.
    • $1 BILLION:  The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) & Senate Finance Committees, as well as the House Ways & Means and the House Energy & Commerce Committees have each been tasked with finding $1 billion in deficit reductions (as part of S. Con. Res. 3) in order to proceed with the ACA reconciliation process
  • TODAY:  House passed S. Con. Res. 3, approving the Senate legislative vehicle for ACA repeal.
  • Jan. 20th: Inauguration of the U.S.’s 45th President @ noon, U.S. Capitol steps
  • Jan. 27th: Senate-imposed deadline for creating ACA repeal legislation, setting up the Senate for a February ACA fight