Colorado Capitol Report

The Colorado Chamber Urges Colorado U.S. Senators Bennet and Gardner to Support Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

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CACI Urges Colorado U.S. Senators Bennet and Gardner to Support Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

Last week, CACI President Chuck Berry sent a letter to Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R) urging them to continue supporting the Keystone XL Pipeline bill.  Berry outlined the positive benefits the project could bring to our state, as well as the U.S. economy. The Senate stayed late for votes today, final passage of S. 1/H.R. is expected early next week.

For recent information about Keystone XL, see the January 16th issue of CACI’s Capitol Report.

Here’s the body of the letter:

 This week as you address each amendment before you on the Senate floor, I ask that you consider how your home state will benefit from passage of S.1/H.R. 3.  I urge your continued support for this important step toward U.S. energy independence, strong jobs and positive growth in our economy.  The Keystone XL is a project six+ years in the making – why delay something which grows our economy, meets federal standards and 65% of Americans support?

As President of the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry (CACI) I know what a project like this can mean for a state and each community supporting the Keystone XL.  The government’s own numbers have shown the project will create 1,950 new jobs for at least two years.  What has not been clearly acknowledged is that to support those nearly 2,000 new jobs, communities will be hiring – more restaurant staff, more support staff, more jobs.  People will be more likely to open new businesses, more homes will be sold and more homes built; workers will bring their families and invest in local communities.  The Keystone XL will directly employ thousands, but the project will also boost thousands more hard-working citizens and small businesses across the country.

While the Keystone XL will not cross our state, Colorado still has a lot to offer this national project.  Our state boasts some of the most competitive, competent and cutting-edge manufacturers in the world.  These businesses, created and built in Colorado, will be providing crucial supplies to complete and ensure the safety of this project.  This isn’t all Colorado has to offer though.  Through our top-notch schools Colorado is also providing this project with some of the best mechanical, structural and environmental engineers as well.  And quite notably, there are CACI member businesses set to supply piping, concrete, rebar, on-site structures and modules, safety products, uniforms and protective clothing, flow monitors and more.

Why CACI Requests Your Support:

  • Keystone XL boosts state economies, across sectors unrelated to energy, and not just for states along the project’s path (i.e. housing, independent businesses, increased local revenue & CO businesses)
  • Keystone has met and often exceeded environmental requirements set by federal agencies
  • A large portion of Keystone is already built –we’re asking your support to complete the project
  • Removes safety risks of transport by rail or truck: The Keystone XL path allows oil to most efficiently reach the Gulf Coast and our largest refining facilities in the U.S.
  • Energy Independence: The completed project would represent 1% of global crude output, where Canada is the largest net crude exporter (29%) vs. the next largest, Saudi Arabia (14%) – while this 1% is small compared to other nations, this is a huge step for U.S. energy and national security and avoids reliance upon volatile nations such as Russia and Iran for our energy.

Please vote ‘YES’ for the Keystone XL project and thank you for your continued support.

For information on Federal policy topics as well as the activities of CACI’s Federal Relations Council, contact Leah Curtsinger, CACI Federal and State Governmental Relations Representative, at 303.866.9641.

Politics and Business Issues Dominate CACI’s Colorado Business Day Luncheon

House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran and Senate President Pro Tempore Ellen Roberts

House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran and Senate President Pro Tempore Ellen Roberts

Yesterday, almost 400 CACI members, guests and political leaders attended the CACI Annual Colorado Business Day Luncheon at The Brown Palace Hotel and were treated to a wide-ranging discussion of state and national politics and issues.

At the beginning of the luncheon, House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) and Senate President Pro Tempore Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) presented the agendas for their respective caucuses.

Senator Roberts

Senator Roberts said the Senate Republicans, who now control the chamber by one vote, will focus on such “infrastructure needs” as transportation, health care and K-12 education.  She said she personally looks at legislation through her perspective as to how it will impact small businesses and “Main Street.”

K-12 issues will include accountability vs ”too much testing,” unmet funding needs because of Amendment 23 and school safety, she said.

Colorado’s health-care insurance exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, will receive legislative attention, Senator Roberts said, because of the recent critical audit from the State Auditor’s Office.  Changes will be needed to the exchange to address the findings of the audit, she said.

One area of concern for the Senate Republicans will be to reduce the amount of fraud in the Medicaid system, Senator Roberts said.  Expansion of Medicaid eligibility has “created a larger problem,” she said.

Colorado needs more water storage because water is “critical” to the state, Senator Roberts said.  She urged the Front Range to increase its conservation of water.

The legislature needs to address the health of forests in the state to reduce the danger fromwildfires, which can damage watersheds and thus affect the trans-mountain diversion of water to the Front Range, she said.  The timber industry needs to be freed from regulations that restrain its ability to engage in “sustainable practices,” Senator Roberts said.

The oil-and-gas industry, which is a “huge contributor” to the state’s southwestern region, has witnessed “great changes’ in recent years to the regulations that govern it, Senator Roberts said.  She hopes that future legislation and regulations will allow for the “peaceful coexistence” of local communities with the oil-and-gas industry.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ellen Roberts, House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran and Loren Furman

Senate President Pro Tempore Ellen Roberts, House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran and Loren Furman

In conclusion, Senator Roberts said that her caucus intends to “govern responsibly” and that she is “excited” that the Democrats favor rural and economic development.

Representative Duran

In response to Senator Roberts comments about water storage, Representative Duran, noting that she is a sixth-generation Coloradoan whose family roots go back to the Spanish Peaks area south of Walsenburg, acknowledged the importance of water to the rural areas of Colorado.

Colorado has gone from 40th to 4th among the states in job creation, Representative Duran said, but there is still “work to do.”  She said the majority House Democrats would focus on “economic opportunity and security or all” as the state’s economy continues to recover.

She said that the Democrats agree with the Republicans on the need for a quality educational system, infrastructure improvements and “transparent accountability” for Connect for Health Colorado.

Workforce development will be a major emphasis for the Democrats, Representative Duran said, to help Coloradans find good-paying jobs by increasing the skills and education needed to meet the requirements of employers.  Such efforts need to explore options for post-secondary education and skills training separate from a four-year college education, she said.

Representative Duran said she hoped that the business community will be “part of the discussion” about the TABOR refund.  “What kind of state do we want to be?” she asked the CACI audience.

In conclusion, she said some House Democrats also are willing to look at the issue of regulation to make it fairer to businesses.

Eric Sondermann

Eric Sondermann

Eric Sondermann

The Luncheon’s main speaker was noted Colorado political analyst Eric Sondermann, who ranged across a very broad political landscape from Washington, D.C., to the Colorado State Capitol.

His speech was entitled, “Purple It Is–The Colorado Political Landscape Entering 2015.”  He prefaced his remarks by saying that he is an “equal-opportunity offender” to both major political parties.

In Colorado, February 27, 2014, was a “key day” because that’s when then Congressman Cory Gardner announced that he would run for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall, Sondermann said.  The importance of Congressman Gardner’s decision was that it made Republicans “viable” in Colorado,

In November, the national Republican election “wave” swept across Colorado, resulting in the Republicans winning narrow control of the state Senate and narrowing the Democratic margin in the state House to just two votes, Sondermann said.

Republicans swept all three state-wide offices (attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer) except for the governor’s office.  Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper narrowly held on to his office by 3.3 percent.

The margin of Republican victories in the races for attorney general (9 percent), secretary of state (2.3 percent) and state treasurer (5 percent) was the “acid test of political winds” because many voters cast their ballots for the party, not the candidates, who are less well known, Sondermann said.

The Republican Party made a “generational shift” by voting for Congressman Gardner but not for Bob Beauprez in his race against

Chuck Berry and Eric Sondermann

Chuck Berry and Eric Sondermann

Governor Hickenlooper, Sondermann said.   Given the strength of the Republican wave nationally and in Colorado, the Republicans experienced a “missed opportunity” by failing to capture the governorship and thus completing a sweep of the five statewide offices.

Colorado is now a purple state—but perhaps more violet than periwinkle–Sondermann said, and he predicted that it will be one of the states at the epicenter of 2016 national politics.

Governor Hickenlooper will find that he will have an easier time with a legislature under split political control of the two chambers, Sondermann predicted, much as the Governor did in the first two years (2011 and 2012) of his first term when Republicans controlled the House.  In 2013 and 2014, Democrats controlled both chambers, and the Governor “suffered” politically when the Democratic majorities sent him controversial bills, he said.

Sondermann said that much of the legislative game this session will be played between the 45-yard lines because neither the Senate Republicans nor the House Democrats will be able to throw the “long ball” of controversial bills because the other chamber will kill them.

He predicted that there will be more compromise and consensus because there is “plenty of meat” for the legislature to feast on, such as oil-and-gas regulation, the health exchange and testing in K-12 education.

In conclusion, Sondermann asked whether Governor Hickenlooper will organize the parade to address the TABOR surplus, which the Governor has called a “fiscal thicket”–or be a grand marshal who runs around to be in front of a parade organized by others.

NAM Chief to Deliver “State of Manufacturing” Address at CACI-Member Ball Corporation on February 12th

Jay Timmons, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM), will deliver a “State of Manufacturing” address on February 12th at the Ball Corporation in Broomfield.  CACI members are urged to attend.

The event will take place at the Ball Corporation, 10 Longs Peak Drive, Broomfield CO 80038.  Registration is required for the 11:30 a.m.—1 p.m. event.

U.S. Senate Surpasses 2014 Votes  -- In Just One Week

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has the Senate adhering to an open amendment process as they address S.1/H.R. 3, the Keystone Pipeline Act.  As the headline suggests, the Senate has already surpassed, in one week, the number of votes taken by the Senate in all of 2014.  Does this mean we’ll see a more active Congress?  If action on this first major bill is any indication, we can expect more voices to be heard on both sides of the aisle.

What Could New Ozone Regs Cost Colorado?

The answer: A lot.

The NAM has put together Colorado-specific numbers  looking at the impacts of the proposed rule:

  • $18 Billion Gross State Product Loss from 2017 to 2040
  • 24,739 Lost Jobs or Job Equivalents per Year
  • $11 Billion in Total Compliance Costs
  • $810 Drop in Average Household Consumption per Year
  • $1 Billion More for Residents to Own/Operate Their Vehicles Statewide (2017 to 2040)
  • Up to a 15% Increase in Residential Electricity Prices (National Average)
  • Up to a 32% Increase in Residential Natural Gas Prices (National Average)

Manufacturing would be hit especially hard.  When EPA considered tightening the same standard in 2010, the estimated costs in Colorado alone were $675 million per year.