Today is the day! The first regular session of the 74th Colorado General Assembly must adjourn sine die by 11:59 pm tonight.
The highlight of last week was the Governor signing the Long Bill on Monday. The Long Bill includes a 5% across-the-board salary increase for all state employees, an additional increase to bring trooper salaries in line with the Trooper Pay Statute, and funding for other State Patrol priorities.
This past week, like the past few weeks, also included a lot of late nights on the floor as the majority party tried to figure out how to get as many of their priorities passed as possible. Three bills have taken up much of the recent focus in the capitol.
SB 213, the Governor’s land use bill, is an attempt to increase affordable housing in Colorado. However, most local governments strongly oppose SB 213 because it seeks to dictate zoning issues which have historically been the purview of local governments. SB 213 passed the House on a vote of 37 to 28 with all Republicans and 9 Democrats voting no. It needs to go back to the Senate for the Senate to consider the House amendments before it goes to the Governor. SB 213 initially passed the Senate on a 20 to 12 party-line vote.
The other two bills – SB 303 and HB 1311 – concern the shocking property tax increases property owners have received recently and TABOR refunds. SB 303 refers a ballot measure – Proposition HH – to voters at the November 2023 election. Basically, SB 303 asks voters to forego a portion of their TABOR refunds in exchange for reducing their property tax burden. HB 1311, which was introduced on Saturday and only goes into effect if the voters pass Proposition HH, changes the distribution of TABOR refunds. Under current law, this year’s TABOR refund would be distributed to taxpayers through a six-tier sales tax mechanism in which higher income earners receive a greater TABOR refund. HB 1311 would eliminate the six-tier system and replace it with a flat amount – $661 for individual filers and $1,322 for joint filers.
So far, there have been 617 bills introduced – 311 in the House and 306 in the Senate. It’s all over later today!