Colorado Capitol Report

Five Weeks Gone: CACI Legislative Agenda Update


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State Policy News

Five Weeks Gone: CACI Legislative Agenda Update

As the legislature completes its fifth full week of the session, CACI’s policy councils continue to study, debate and take positions on bills that affect the statewide business community, which CACI has represented at the State Capitol for more than five decades.  The HealthCare Council met yesterday and the Federal Policy Committee met Tuesday.

Two new bills. SB-145 and SB-151, were added to CACI’s legislative agenda, but both died.  CACI OPPOSED both bills.

SB-145

SB-145, sponsored by Senator Stephen Fenberg (D-Boulder), concerned electric utility distribution plans.  Here is the legislature’s summary of the introduced bill:

The bill directs specified electric utilities to prepare, and the Colorado public utilities commission to review, proposals to integrate distributed energy resources into their plans to acquire new infrastructure. ‘Distributed energy resources’ is defined to include renewable distributed generation facilities, such as rooftop solar, energy storage facilities, electric vehicles, and other features of an improved and diversified electrical grid architecture. The commission may approve the plans as submitted or modify them in ways that improve system reliability, reduce costs, or increase the benefits to ratepayers.

The bill targeted Xcel Energy and Black Hills Colorado Electric, both CACI members, which are regulated by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

The bill’s fiscal note stated that the bill, if had become law, would have resulted in about $200,00 in revenue in fiscal year 2017-2018 and about $517,600 in fiscal year 2018-2019.  The bill also would have resulted in state spending of $344,000 in the first fiscal year and about $1.5 million the next fiscal year.  Here’s the fiscal note’s explanation of the bill:

Summary of Legislation

The bill requires investor-owned utilities and cooperative electric associations to create distributed energy resources plans. Distributed energy resources are small-scale power sources that can be combined to diversify the electrical grid to protect it from disruptions. Each utility must integrate distributed energy resources planning into its five-year infrastructure acquisition plan. The bill details specific procedures that utilities and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) must follow.

Distribution resource plans must be submitted to the PUC for review by June 1, 2018. The PUC must subsequently review, modify, if necessary, and approve these plans by December 1, 2018. After each plan is approved, the utility’s expenditures for energy distribution infrastructure must be considered at its next general rate case.

The bill died in the Senate Agricultural, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on a bipartisan, unanimous eight-to-zero vote.

SB-151

SB-151, sponsored by Senator Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa), concerned consumer access to health care intermediaries.  Here’s the legislature’s description of the bill:

The bill requires a health insurance carrier or an intermediary that conducts credentialing, utilization management, or utilization review to:

  • Base health care coverage authorizations and medical necessity determinations on generally accepted and evidence-based standards and criteria of clinical practice;
  • Disclose to a carrier’s policyholders and providers the evidence-based standards and criteria of clinical practice and processes that the carrier uses for coverage authorizations and medical necessity determinations of health care services;
  • Ensure that coverage authorizations and medical necessity determinations are performed by a health care provider;
  • Categorize a condition as a new episode of care if the same provider has not treated the policyholder for the condition within the previous 30 days; and
  • Ensure that tiered prior authorization criteria are based on generally accepted and evidence-based standards and criteria of clinical practice.
  • The bill prohibits:
  • An intermediary from requiring coverage authorization or a medical necessity determination prior to the evaluation and management services provided by a health care provider to a policyholder during an initial health care visit; and
  • A carrier from creating incentives to reduce or deny coverage authorizations or medical necessity determinations.

The bill’s fiscal note analyzed the bill this way:

Summary of Legislation

The bill requires health insurance carriers that conduct credentialing of providers, utilization management, and utilization review to do the following:

  1. base health care coverage authorizations and medical necessity determinations on generally accepted and evidence-based standards and criteria of clinical practice;
  2. disclose evidence-based standards and criteria of clinical practice and processes to policyholders and providers that the carrier uses for coverage authorizations and medical necessity determinations;
  3. ensure that coverage authorizations and medical necessity determinations are performed by a health care provider who is licensed in a similar health field as the requesting provider;
  4. categorize a condition as a new episode of care if the same provider has not treated the policyholder for the condition within the previous 30 days; and
  5. ensure that tiered prior authorization criteria are based on generally accepted evidence-based standards and criteria.

In addition, the bill prohibits an intermediary from requiring a coverage authorization or medical necessity determination prior to evaluation and management services provided at an initial visit. In addition, a carrier cannot create payment or other incentives for an intermediary to reduce or deny coverage authorizations or medical necessity determinations. Insurance carriers and intermediaries are also prohibited from requiring that a provider participate or be credentialed by a specific carrier or intermediary as a condition of health insurance network participation.

The Division of Insurance in the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is required to create rules and begin enforcing the provisions of the bill by July 1, 2018. The Division of Insurance must also develop rules for dispute resolution processes for policyholders and providers who have a dispute with an intermediary.

The Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on Wednesday killed the bill on a five-to-two vote.  Democrat Senator Angela Williams (Denver) joined the Committee’s four majority Republican senators to kill the bill.

Two other bills, SB-89 and HB-1063, on CACI’s legislative agenda also have been killed:

SB-89

SB-89, which was sponsored by Senator Stephen Fenberg (D-Boulder), concerned the installation of electricity storage systems by consumers of electricity.  OPPOSED

Here’s legislative staff’s description of the bill:

The bill declares that consumers of electricity have a right to install and use electricity storage systems on their property, and this will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid, save money, and reduce the need for additional electric generation facilities.

The bill directs the Colorado public utilities commission to adopt rules under which:

  • Residential and small commercial consumers can install electricity storage systems with a discharge rate of up to 25 kilowatts (kW) alternating current (AC) for later use or to provide backup in case of an outage;
  • The utility and interconnection approval process for photovoltaic plus storage systems must be simple and streamlined, subject to electrical code and safety requirements but not more complex than existing approval requirements for photovoltaic installations;
  • A utility whose customer installs electricity storage must use only a single revenue meter unless the storage system exceeds a discharge rate of 25 kW AC; and
  • Any applicable standby charges, minimum charges, additional meter charges, or other fees or charges are identical as between customers with electricity storage systems and those without.

The bill’s fiscal note analyzes the proposal this way:

Summary of Legislation

The bill requires the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to adopt rules governing the installation and use of electricity storage systems by residential and small commercial customers of utilities regulated by the PUC. The bill also creates certain requirements related to utility interconnection, approval, and charges. Utility employees who do not substantially comply with PUC rules governing electricity storage systems commit a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Comparable Crime

Legislative Council Staff is required to include certain information in the fiscal note for any bill that creates a new crime, changes the classification of an existing crime, or changes an element of the existing crime that creates a new factual basis for the offense. The bill creates a Class 2 misdemeanor offense for failure to comply with PUC rules governing electricity storage systems. Penalties for a Class 2 misdemeanor are 3 to 12 months in jail, $250 to $1000 in fines, or both. In the past three years, there have been no convictions of this offense.

The Senate Business, Labor and Technology committee killed the bill on Wednesday, February 8th, on a party-line, four-to-three vote.

HB-1063

HB-1063, which was sponsored by Representative Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen), concerned a reduction in the business personal property tax.  SUPPORT

Here’s the legislature’s summary of the bill:

Under current law, if a business has less than $7,300 of personal property that would be listed on a single personal property schedule, then the personal property is exempt from the property tax and the business is not required to submit a schedule to the county assessor. With respect to this exemption, the bill reduces the amount of personal property tax that businesses pay by:

  • Increasing the exemption that applies per schedule from $7,300 to $50,000, adjusted for inflation in the future, which increase will allow more businesses to avoid filing personal property tax schedules; and
  • Allowing businesses whose personal property value exceeds the total exemption amount to claim the exemption.
  • For public utilities that are assessed statewide, the property tax administrator currently considers all of a public utility’s tangible property within the state as a factor in determining the value of the public utility as a unit. The bill modifies the valuation process by:
  • Exempting the first $50,000 or an inflation-adjusted amount of personal property from the property tax and excluding it from the administrator’s consideration for valuation purposes; and
  • Excluding the exempt personal property from the public utility’s statement of property that it files with the administrator.

The bill’s fiscal note stated that the proposal would increase state revenue by $4.887 million in the next three fiscal years, 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.  But it also would cost the state $87.814 million for this period.  Here’s the fiscal note’s summary of the bill:

Summary of Legislation

This bill creates a $50,000 business personal property tax exemption starting in 2017. The exemption applies to all personal property taxpayers including state assessed utilities. Under current law, there is a $7,300 threshold so businesses with personal property totaling less than $7,300 in actual value do not report personal property value to counties. Beginning in 2019, the $50,000 exemption amount is adjusted for inflation every two years.

Background

Current law exemption. Business owners are required to report how much personal property they own in a county to the county assessor if they own more than $7,300 in property in the county. If they have less than the $7,300 threshold of personal property within a county they do not report the value to the assessor and it is not taxed. If a business owns more than $7,300 in personal property in a county, the entire amount is taxed. The $50,000 exemption in House Bill 17-1063 applies to all personal property taxpayers.

Property taxes. Personal property is assessed at 29 percent of its actual value. The taxable value of personal property with an actual value of $10,000 is $2,900. Property tax is collected by various local taxing entities, including municipalities, counties, school districts, and special districts. Each local taxing entity establishes a mill rate that is multiplied by the taxable value of all taxable property within the jurisdiction. One mill generates $1.00 for each $1,000 of value. Property taxes are collected in arrears, in the first half of the calendar year following the property tax year. For example, 2017 property taxes will be collected in the first half of 2018.

The bill died in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on February 1st on a party-line six-to-three vote.  This Committee is known as the House “kill committee.”


CACI’s Legislative Agenda

Below is a list of the CACI policy Councils and the positions that they have taken so far in the session on various bills as well as the status of the bills.  For more information on the bills, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.

Energy & Environment Council BillsBill Title/DescriptionCouncil Position
SB 14 by Sen. Baumgardner/Rep. Becker, J.Inspection requirements/Underground TanksSupport
SB 89 by Sens. Fenberg & LundbergInstallation Electricity Storage SystemsOppose/Dead
SB 145 by Sen. Fenberg & Rep. FooteElectric Utility Distribution Acquisition PlanOppose/Dead
SB 188 by Sen. MarbleRepeal Income Tax Credit Motor VehiclesOppose/Dead
HB 1227 by Reps Winter & Sen. PriolaElectric Demand-Side Mngt Program ExtensionSupport
SB 271 by Sen. Cooke & Rep. PabonInvestor Owned Utility Cost Recovery ProgramNeutral as Amended
HB 1336 by Reps. Young & FooteAdditional Protections/Forced PoolingOppose/Dead
HB 1256 by Rep. FooteOil & Gas Set-Backs/SchoolsOppose/Dead
SJM 005 by Sen. Jones & Rep. FooteReduce Energy SubsidiesOppose

 

Health Care Council BillsBill Title/DescriptionCouncil Position
SB 003 by Sen. Smallwood & Rep. NevilleRepeal of CO Health Benefit ExchangeMonitor
SB 57 by Sen. GuzmanHospital Provider Fee EnterpriseSupport/Dead
SB 88 by Sen. Holbert & Rep. HootenNetwork of ProvidersNeutral /Signed by Gov
SB 151 by Sen. Crowder & Rep. GinalConsumer Access to Hlth Care/IntermediariesOppose/Dead
SB 206 by Sen. Gardner & Rep. SingerOut-of-Network Providers PaymentsOppose/Dead
HB 1236 by Rep. Kennedy & Sen. CoramAnnual Report on Hospital ExpendituresOppose/Dead
HB 1247 by Rep. Danielson & Sen. SonnenbergPatient Choice Health CareOppose/Dead
HB 1286 by Rep. Esgar & Sen. CrowderState Employee Health Carrier RequirementsOppose/Dead
HB 1318 by Rep. Ginal & Sen. CrowderAnnual Report Pharmaceutical Costs DataOppose/Dead

 

Labor & Employment Council BillsBill Title/DescriptionCouncil Position
SB 001 by Sen. Neville & Rep. NevilleAlleviate Fiscal Impact of State RegulationsSupport/Dead
HB 1001 by Rep. BucknerParental Leave for Academic ActivitiesNeutral/Dead
SB 186 by Sen. Tate & Rep. CarverReduce Regulatory Burden Rules on BusinessSupport/Dead
HB 1269 by Rep. Danielson/Nordberg & Sen. DonovanDiscussing Salaries Among EmployeesNeutral
HB 1290 by Rep. PettersenRetirement Savings MandateOppose/Dead
HB 1254 by Rep. K. Becker & Sen. KaganRemoval of Cap on Non-Economic DamagesOppose
HB 1305 by Rep. Foote & Sen. GuzmanLimits on Job Applicant Criminal History InquiriesOppose/Dead
HB 1307 by Rep. WinterFamily & Medical Leave Wage ReplacementOppose/Dead
SB 276 by Sen. Tate & Rep. TateAlleviate Fiscal Impact of State RegulationsSupport
HB 1314 by Reps. Salazar & MeltonColorado Right to RestOppose/Dead

 

Tax Council BillsBill Title/DescriptionCouncil Position
SB 009 by Sen. CrowderIncrease Per-Schedule Exemption on BPPTSupport
HB 1049 by Rep. ThurlowElimination of Interest/Tax AbatementsNeutral as Amended
HB 1063 by Rep. Leonard/Sen. NevilleConcerning Reduction in BPPTSupport/Dead
HB 1090 by Rep. Kraft-Tharpe/Sen. GardnerContinuation Advanced Industry Tax CreditSupport
SB 112 by Sen. Neville & Rep. PabonIntergovernmental Tax DisputesSupport/Signed by Gov.
HB 1216 by Rep. Kraft-Tharpe/Sen. NevilleSales & Use Tax Simplification Task ForceSupport

Federal Policy News

Federal Happenings In Brief:

  • Linda McMahon confirmed Tuesday by the U.S. Senate as the Small Business Administration (SBA) Director.
  • Labor Nominee Andrew Puzder withdrew his name Wednesday after he did not have the necessary votes to receive full Senate confirmation.  On Thursday, President Trump nominated Alexander Acosta who has successfully navigated Senate confirmation for past roles on the National Labor Relations Board, as a Federal prosecutor & as Assistant Attorney General for civil rights under George W. Bush.
  • Scott Pruitt confirmed TODAY as Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Director by vote of 52-46; Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) opposed the nomination, while Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) & Joe Manchin (D-WV) supported.  Sen. McCain is out of the country and Sen. Joe Donnelly abstained from voting.  Senate Democrats protested through the night, saying the Oklahoma AG who repeatedly sued the EPA should not be in charge of the EPA.

“Regulators are supposed to make things regular, to fairly and equitably enforce the rules and not pick winners and losers.  A regulator should not be for or against any sector of our economy. Instead, a regulator ought to follow law in setting up the rules so that those who are regulated can plan, allocate resources to meet the standards, versus operating in a state of uncertainty and duress.”  — soon-to-be sworn-in EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt during his confirmation hearing