In this Capitol Report:
What We’re Watching: SB 193
This week we’re watching Senate Bill 193, which aims to improve Colorado’s air quality through the creation of a new industrial and manufacturing operations clean air grant program.
The bill details several different projects that intend to reduce carbon emissions released into the Colorado air. If passed, $12 million would be designated to local governments to start an e-bike share program or an e-bike ownership program, which would reduce both car traffic and emissions. $15 million would be allotted to help with the cost of replacing diesel trucks with cleaner energy burning trucks, while $25 million would be issued to companies for voluntary projects to reduce air pollution in the manufacturing industries.
A significant emphasis of the bill is designating $65 million to replace current school buses with electric buses. While electric school buses are more expensive upfront, they require less maintenance and are less expensive to refuel. The goal of investing in zero-emission buses is to both reduce air emissions across the state and protect children from the harmful impacts of diesel fumes.
The push for cleaner air comes after Colorado’s Front Range saw a record number of high ozone pollution days last summer in part due to car emissions. SB 193 would allot $750,000 for RTD passes for state employees to encourage the usage of public transportation, rather than individual transit.
The Colorado Chamber and the business community as a whole is committed to improving our state’s air quality and protecting our environment through sensible policies. SB 193 would take an important step towards these ongoing efforts, which is why the Chamber’s Energy and Environment Policy Council voted to support the legislation this week.
SB 193 passed through House Energy and Environment this week after clearing the full Senate earlier this month. It is awaiting a hearing in House Appropriations.
Air Toxics, PFAS, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and More Environmental Updates
In the Colorado Chamber’s final Energy and Environment Council of the session this week, members took new positions on several environmental bills and discussed the latest updates on important legislation.
New Bill Positions
HB 1362 – OPPOSE
The Energy and Environment Council discussed HB 1362, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through extensive new building code requirements. Among other new mandates, it would require all local governments to adopt IECC National Model Energy Code standards beginning with the 2021 IECC standards and expanding from there. This would set new standards for local building codes surrounding things like electric appliances, solar technologies, electric vehicle charging stations, and other energy efficiency measures.
Members of the Chamber’s E&E Council cited estimates that just getting to the 2021 IECC standards would cost approximately $9,000 per house. While proponents claim that these costs would be made up for in energy savings, the estimate to make up for the costs would take 60 years.
This legislation would only exacerbate Colorado’s housing affordability crisis. The Chamber took an OPPOSED position on the bill, which is scheduled for the House Appropriations Committee today.
HB 1322 – OPPOSE
This legislation requires the water quality control commission to conduct outreach and gather input from disproportionately impacted communities regarding the commission’s rule-making proceedings, licensing proceedings, and adjudicatory hearings. Some amendments have recently been made to the bill regarding the statute of limitations on bringing actions alleging violations of the Water Quality Control Act and narrowing the title of the legislation. The fiscal note for the bill is estimated at $300,000, but CDPHE puts that estimate around $800,000. The Chamber took an opposed position on the bill and it is awaiting a hearing in House Appropriations.
SB 193 – SUPPORT
This bill creates an industrial and manufacturing operations clean air grant program for private entities. The program would award funds to local governments, tribal governments, and public-private partnerships to invest in voluntary projects to reduce air pollutants from industrial and manufacturing operations. More details on this bill can be found in the Chamber’s What We’re Watching feature this week.
Other Legislative Updates
Air Toxics Bill (HB 1244)
This bill was heard in the House Energy and Environment Committee two weeks ago and is still awaiting a hearing in House Appropriations.
The Colorado Chamber has been strongly opposed to this legislation in its current form and has been aggressively working against the bill. Using the Chamber’s grassroots tools, our coalition has made nearly 800 contacts with members of the House Appropriation Committee alone. If you haven’t already, you can participate in our opposition efforts by contacting members of the committee here. To learn more about the coalition or to join, visit our Coalitions page.
PFAS Ban (HB 1345)
The PFAS bill was heard in the House Energy and Environment Committee last week and is awaiting a hearing in House Finance. Several amendments were made to the bill, which were a small step forward but didn’t do much to address the Chamber’s concerns.
The Chamber remains opposed to the bill for several reasons, including its overly broad definition of PFAS, the use of firefighting foam in certain emergency situations, food packaging as it relates to federal FDA requirements, and the broad discretion it gives the state to determine what makes it on the list of prohibited products.
Producer Responsibility (HB 1355)
This legislation would create a new producer responsibility program for statewide recycling. While the bill was amended in committee to exempt some small businesses, agricultural products, and certain paper products for local newspapers, the Chamber remains in an opposed position due to the bill’s broad requirements. The bill is awaiting a hearing in House Appropriations.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill (SB 138)
This has passed through Senate Finance and Appropriations and is currently undergoing work on the Senate Floor. The Chamber is currently in an “amend” position on the bill. Some amendments have been made, including removing the lawnmower provision and adjusting timelines. The legislation is still a work in progress and the Chamber remains in an “amend” position.
Who Deserves the Chamber’s Endorsement? Candidate Interviews Start Next Month!
Recently, the Colorado Chamber hosted a strategy meeting with its PAC Board members to discuss and select Primary Election candidates for the Chamber’s interview and endorsement process. The interview schedule is finalized and 17 candidates have been chosen for interviews to be held on May 18th and 19th at the Colorado Chamber office. Candidates have also received a candidate questionnaire that they will submit prior to their interview.
The Colorado Chamber will also be hosting General Election candidate interviews on July 6th, 7th, 12th and 13th. If you are interested in participating on our PAC Board and interview process, please contact Tricia Smith at [email protected] for information and invoicing.
Additionally, we are establishing an Executive Committee of the PAC Board which will include investors who are interested in coordinating and investing in select races at a higher investment to get CO Chamber endorsed candidates over the finish line. If you are interested in serving on this Executive Committee of the Board, please contact Loren Furman at [email protected].