Colorado Capitol Report

No Vote on Tax Increase for Roads This November


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State Policy News

No Vote on Tax Increase for Roads This November

On Wednesday, a coalition that has been advocating for increased funding for roads announced that it would not launch a ballot initiative for a sales tax increase for the November ballot but that it would continue its advocacy next year.

On behalf of FixItCO, Tony Milo, executive director, Colorado Contractors Association, said, “If we don’t move forward (in 2018), the economy is at risk, people’s safety is at risk and our quality of life is at risk,” according to The Denver Post.

The group filed six ballot proposals in April with the Secretary of State’s office, each of which that would have, if approved by the voters in November, generated $3.5 billion funds for road projects by boosting the current 2.9 percent state sales tax by varying percentages.  The ballot proposals essentially were variations on HB-1242, which died by one vote in the Senate Finance Committee.  CACI supported HB-1242.

Milo gave two reasons for halting its effort to move a ballot initiative forward.  The first was the cost to collect ballot signatures and the second was the legislature’s passage of an omnibus bill, SB-267, on the final day of the session, which will generate $1.8 billion for roads by, in effect, mortgaging state buildings.  CACI supported SB-267, which was labeled the “rural sustainability” bill.

SB-267 will generate $2 billion by entering into lease-purchase agreements by selling “certificates of participation” to private investors.  Of this $2 billion, $1.8 billion will be allocated to road projects and $120 million to state capital construction projects.  Of the transportation dollars, 25 percent must go to rural counties and ten percent must go for transit purposes and transit-related capital improvements.  To pay off the obligation, the legislature must annually spend up to $94 million from General Fund revenue and $50 million more from Colorado Department of Transportation revenue.

According to The Post, a sponsor of HB-1242, Senator Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulphur Springs), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said, “We have to figure out something to fix our transportation infrastructure.  Senate Bill 267 is going to help a little bit, but it’s not going to do everything.”

According to The Denver Business Journal, House Speaker Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), who also sponsored HB-1242, said, “The longer we wait, the greater the risk that parts of the state get left behind.  I am still hopeful that we will achieve a long-term statewide solution soon, and hope those who oppose this year’s compromise understand that we can not simply ignore our transportation needs across every part of the state/”

According to Colorado Public Radio, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) projects a $9 billion backlog of road projects across the state over the next decade and a $25 billion shortfall over the next 25 years.  For details on the state’s transportation funding woes, read CDOT’s “Transportation Deficit Report 2017.”

Colorado voters, however, may still get to consider a very different ballot measure concerning transportation funding.  The conservative think tank, The Independence Institute, has submitted ballot language for two proposals that would reallocate existing tax revenue to repay state-issued bonds, whose revenue would be used for road projects.

Proposed ballot initiative #22 has been cleared by the Ballot Title Setting Board for circulation, which means voter signatures can be collected:

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

STATE DEBT SHALL BE INCREASED $3,500,000,000, WITH A MAXIMUM REPAYMENT COST OF $5,200,000,000, WITHOUT RAISING TAXES, BY A CHANGE TO THE COLORADO REVISED STATUTES REQUIRING THE ISSUANCE OF TRANSPORTATION REVENUE ANTICIPATION NOTES, AND, IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, NOTE PROCEEDS SHALL BE RETAINED AS A VOTER-APPROVED REVENUE CHANGE AND USED EXCLUSIVELY TO FUND SPECIFIED ROAD AND BRIDGE EXPANSION, CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIR PROJECTS THROUGHOUT THE STATE.

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

SHALL STATE DEBT BE INCREASED $3,500,000,000, WITH A MAXIMUM REPAYMENT COST OF $5,200,000,000, WITHOUT RAISING TAXES, BY A CHANGE TO THE COLORADO REVISED STATUTES REQUIRING THE ISSUANCE OF TRANSPORTATION REVENUE ANTICIPATION NOTES, AND, IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, SHALL NOTE PROCEEDS BE RETAINED AS A VOTER-APPROVED REVENUE CHANGE AND USED EXCLUSIVELY TO FUND SPECIFIED ROAD AND BRIDGE EXPANSION, CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIR PROJECTS THROUGHOUT THE STATE?

Proposed ballot initiative #21 would raise $2.5 billion.  The Ballot Title Setting Board has set #21’s title.

It’s a long, expensive road, however, for any group to actually place a proposal on the ballot because just the signature-gathering phase can cost upwards of a half a million dollars.  Moreover, the voters approved Amendment 71, called “Raise the Bar,” in 2016 that makes it more difficult and expensive to gather signatures statewide to qualify a proposal.

To campaign successfully for the voters to approve a ballot measure costs an advocate even more money.  Consequently, in many cases, promoting a ballot measure is often a political ploy that, at some point, implodes for various reasons and the effort is halted or the measure is withdrawn.

For information about CACI’s work to increase transportation funding, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.

For news media coverage and other information about transportation issues and funding, read:

Colorado transportation advocates nix efforts to seek tax hike in November,” by John Frank, The Denver Post, June 7th.

Business coalition will not seek road-tax hike from voters in 2017,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, June 7th.

Governor Signs ‘Rural Sustainability’ Bill,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, June 2nd.

Senate Finance Committee Kills Transportation Funding Bill,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, April 26th.

Colorado roads short on money—by the billions,” by Joey Bunch, ColoradoPolitics.com, December 1, 2016.

When It Comes To Colorado Highway Funding, The Road Goes on Forever,” by Vic Vela, Colorado Public Radio, March 7, 2016.


Federal Policy News

DOL Begins Pulling Back Obama Era Joint Employer & Contractor “Definitions”

This week the Department of Labor (DOL) took a huge step to reduce regulatory burden felt by employers during the Obama Administration.  In this case, the Wage and Hour Division at DOL had previously issued several “guidance” documents explaining how the DOL would view and interpret employee misclassifications (contractor vs. employee) as well as the joint-employer standard affecting franchises and independent contractors.

For the 15-page contractor guidance (Interpretive Bulletin 2015-1) being revoked, the DOL had essentially stated there were very few instances where a business or person was actually an independent contractor vs. an employee of the hiring company.  It is important to note that independent contractors cannot unionize and the DOL previously reasoned that reducing the amount of independent contractors would offer more protections to workers, while encouraging unionization.  This week’s revocation affirms contractors as independent.

Additionally, after the Browning-Ferris decision and after the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB)  McDonald’s litigation on joint-employers, the DOL Wage and Hour Division took their pro-union efforts one step further.  Rather than updating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) through the transparent regulatory process, DOL instead issued Interpretive Guidance  2016-1 saying regulations enforced under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act should be applied broadly, arguing for “vertical” joint employment.

Similar to the contractor scenario above, and as noted by the U.S. Chamber, the standard-setting joint employer decisions of the last few years coincided with efforts by the Service Employee International Union’s (SEIU) campaign to unionize fast food workers.  Changes to contractor and joint employer definitions are great news for businesses, contractors and franchises, however there’s still work to do on the joint employer front.  The NLRB’s Browning-Ferris decision will remain in place until two nominees from the Trump Administration are vetted and Senate-approved for seats on the National Labor Relations Board.  CACI will be following developments on these nominations closely.

Have questions or want to know more?  Contact CACI’s Federal Policy Director, Leah Curtsinger at (303) 866-9641 or LCurtsinger@cochamber.com.


CACI’s Curtsinger To Teach Tomorrow’s Leaders

Leah Curtsinger, CACI’s Federal Policy Director

Leah Curtsinger, CACI’s Federal Policy Director, will be representing the business community while spending the next seven days on the UNC Greeley campus as a counselor for the American Legion Auxiliary’s Colorado Girls State program — teaching soon-to-be high school seniors the importance of civic, business and community engagement.

The 200-plus young women attending Girls State will represent each county and virtually every town in Colorado, and will join the leadership program to learn through first-hand experience how to run a mock city and county on a day-to-day basis, gain experience with a two-party political system and how to run for elected office.

From there, Curtsinger will bring business and legislative experience to the group beginning with Robert’s Rules of Order, how to draft legislation, how to be an effective advocate at any level, and just for fun, Curtsinger will be leading the delegates through workouts each morning.  The culmination of the Girls State experience will be a day at the Colorado State Capitol, where the delegates will pass legislation on the House and Senate floors, tour the Capitol dome and hear from the House and Senate clerks.

Guest speakers throughout the week are also set to include Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynn, State Representatives Perry Buck (R) and K. C. Becker (D), among other local leaders.


Fed Council Alert: Comments on NAFTA DUE Monday, June 12 by Midnight

As discussed at the June 6 Federal Policy Council, CACI is closely tracking developments in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

CACI is asking our members to add comments to the official request for comment from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) who will be submitting recommendations to President Trump for areas of NAFTA to negotiate.  Because many CACI members and the Colorado economy rely on our trade partners in Canada and Mexico, we encourage you to share formal or informal comments with the USTR about why these trade relationships are essential to your business.

Ideas of areas to share are:

  • Comments on where our trade partners have succeeded, progressed where your business benefitted
  • Areas where your company relies on raw products, or partially completely products from these two countries
  • Upstream and down-stream development of products from our partners that your business uses (i.e. agriculture, product packaging, etc.)
  • Energy infrastructure safety and reliability & why it’s important to you
  • Why having a secure and integrated supply chain helps your company run more efficiently, etc.

Click HERE to comment.  All comments must be submitted to the USTR by midnight June 12, 2017.