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 Engineering Colorado 2020 Colorado Legislative
Session Wrap-Up
by Marilen Reimer, CAE
Marilen Reimer, CAE
Executive Director, ACEC Colorado
 The 2020 Colorado Legislative Session began amidst
a robust economy on January 8 and was scheduled to adjourn on May 6, but with the outbreak of COVID-19, all schedules were disrupted. After a two-month hiatus, the legislative session resumed on May 26 with precautionary measures in place to limit the number of people who could be in the Capitol at one time. Despite the shortened session of 84 days instead of 120, the legislature still introduced the usual number of 650 bills and adjourned on June 15.
As to be expected, COVID-19 dominated many of the legislative priorities. Although several of the early bills were postponed indefinitely, many new ones were introduced to address the $3.3 billion budget shortfall and to respond to COVID-related issues affecting the business community.
ACEC Colorado was engaged on the following key bills through coalition building, meetings with the legislators and state agencies. As of this writing, we are waiting for the Governor to decide their fate.
• HB20-1360: Long Bill (2020-2021 Budget) passed and signed. The Colorado Constitution mandates a balanced budget be passed by June 30 for the new fiscal year.
• As a result, cuts to K-12 Education, the legislators introduced HB1420: Adjust Tax Expenditures for State Education Fund*. Because the Governor threatened to veto the original bill, the sponsors changed the income reporting threshold dramatically. However, there are other elements of the bill that are of concern concerning loss of benefits from the CARES Act.
• HB20-1376: Modify Transportation Funding Mechanism passed.
• This bill eliminated $50 million General Fund transfers to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for two years, and diverted $49 million of funding from the second SB 17-267 issuance for statewide controlled maintenance projects.
• SB20-093: Consumer and Employee Dispute Resolution Fairness was postponed indefinitely and kept arbitration rules in place that are used to settle construction defects’ claims. |
• SB20-138: Consumer Protection Construction Defect Time Period was killed by the sponsor. If passed, the statute of limitations would have increased from 6 years to 10 years.
• SCR20-001: Repeal Property Tax Assessment Rates. Two- thirds of both chambers agreed to put forth a 2020 ballot question to repeal the 1982 Gallagher amendment in the state constitution. A companion bill, SB20- 223, passed and goes into effect if the voters repeal the Gallagher amendment, keeping the existing assessment rates
— 29% of a commercial or industrial property’s value and 7.15% of a residential property’s value — in place indefinitely. In 1982, the residential assessed rate was 30% but has continually declined. As a result, there is less money for schools, police, fire, and special districts; rural communities have been the hardest hit.
• SB20-215: Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise will increase fees to insurance providers and hospitals.
COVID-related bills that were pushed and passed in the last days of the session:
• HB20-1414: Price Gouge Amid Disaster Deceptive Trade Practice
• SB20-205: Sick Leave for Employees will impact employers with more than 15 employees who can accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours.
• HB20-1415: Whistleblower Protection Public Health Emergencies applies if the workplace health and safety practices fail to meet guidelines established by a federal, state, or local public health agency with jurisdiction over the workplace.
• SB20-207: Unemployment Insurance – increases businesses’ contribution to the fund.
Under a challenging and an unprecedented legislative environment, ACEC Colorado’s coalition partners, lobbyists, members, and business community activists worked tirelessly to convince legislators of the need to amend these bills that impact businesses in this era of economic uncertainty. As always, their efforts are greatly appreciated.
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