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2016 Regional Issues Summit and Leadership Northern Colorado Kick Off Event Coming December 6

Registration is available at (970) 482-3746 or online at www.FortCollinsChamber.com

2016 Regional Issues Summit

presented by the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance
and Leadership Northern Colorado

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

7:00 a.m. to noon

Embassy Suites, Loveland, CO

Northern Colorado is one of the state’s most vibrant and livable areas. It is also one of the fastest growing parts of Colorado. The Regional Issues Summit is a forum that will bring attention to some of the larger issues facing Northern Colorado.  The half-day program will feature expert presentations, panel conversations and participant reactions. Business, civic, education and government leaders are invited to attend to help identify possible solutions to the area challenges.  Key topics for the Issues Summit include:  Transportation, Workforce and Water.

The business community is also invited to extend their day at the Embassy Suites and to join Leadership Northern Colorado for their kick off event starting at noon. Regionalism is becoming a central issue for the area.  Community members are invited to learn about this important topic and to meet the 2017 Leadership Northern Colorado class.

More than 200 business professionals and community leaders are expected at the Regional Issues Summit and the Leadership Northern Colorado Kick Off.   Registration is available at (970) 482-3746 or online at www.FortCollinsChamber.com

 

Ticket Prices are:

Regional Issues Summit

Chamber Members (Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley):  $40

Non Members:  $50

Table of 10:  $350

Leadership Northern Colorado and Leadership Fort Collins, Loveland and
Weld County Alumni:  $30

Leadership Northern Colorado Kick Off Event

$25

Special Combo Pricing (Regional Issues and LNC Kick Off):  $55

 

The Regional Issues Summit and the Leadership Northern Colorado Kick Off is sponsored by Leadership Northern Colorado, the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, Upstate Colorado and the Northern Colorado Economic Alliance.  Gold Sponsors: Elevations Credit Union, Kaiser Permanente.  Silver Sponsor:  Upstate Colorado.  Bronze Sponsors:  Woodward, Better Business Bureau, RE/MAX Alliance, Brock & Company and the Northern Colorado Economic Alliance.  Event Sponsors:  Hewlett Packard Enterprise.  Table Sponsors:  FMS Bank and Total Facility Care.  Leadership Northern Colorado is sponsored by Kaiser Permanent and Banner Health.

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Oil/Gas Development Limits and a Healthy Environment Among Many Ballot Measures Shaping Up for 2016

The backers of proposed constitutional amendments to regulate the oil and gas industry got the nod from the Secretary of state that they can begin collecting voter signatures to try to get the issues on the 2016 general election ballot, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced last week.

Among the measures approved for signature gathering is measure to allow local government regulation of oil-and-gas development.  Earlier last week, the same proponents were notified they had completed the necessary steps to begin collecting signatures for yet another proposed constitutional amendment, No. 78, dealing with mandatory setback requirements for oil-and gas development.

Proponents of that measure also got the go-ahead for signature collection on another proposal, dealing with the “right to a healthy environment.”

The language of proposed Initiative 63, “Right to Healthy Environment:”

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning natural persons’ fundamental right to a healthy environment and, in connection therewith, defining “healthy environment” as safe and sustainable conditions for human life, including healthy air, water, land, and ecological systems; requiring state and local governments to assign the highest priority to protecting a healthy environment; allowing local governments to enact laws that are protective of a healthy environment; stating that such a local law governs over a state law that is less protective of a healthy environment; allowing natural persons and governmental entities to sue to enforce the fundamental right to a healthy environment; and awarding reasonable costs of litigation upon determination that a violation has occurred.

The language for proposed Initiative 75, Local government authority to regulate oil-and-gas development:”

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning local government regulation of oil and gas development and, in connection therewith, authorizing local governments to prohibit, limit, or impose moratoriums on oil and gas development; authorizing local laws and regulations that are more restrictive of oil and gas development and at least as protective of a community’s health, safety, welfare, and environment as state law; and prohibiting the state from preempting any local laws or regulations that prevent or mitigate local impacts from oil and gas development.

The language for proposed Initiative 78, Mandatory setback for oil and gas development

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a statewide setback requirement for new oil and gas development facilities, and, in connection therewith, changing setback requirements to require any new oil and gas development facility in the state to be located at least 2,500 feet from the nearest occupied structure or other specified or locally designated area and authorizing the state or a local government to require new oil and gas development facilities to be located more than 2,500 feet from the nearest occupied structure.

Proponents of the ballot measures have an Aug. 8 deadline to turn in 98,492 valid voter signatures, which is 5 percent of the total votes cast for all candidates for Secretary of State in the last general election.

Other measures where supporters have had their petition formats approved for collecting signatures:

  • Local governance: 40
  • Iran divestment of public funds:  47
  • Independent Ethics Commission: 53
  • Voter registration: 57
  • Mandatory setback for oil/gas development: 78
  • Food store licenses: 104105 and 106

Already on the ballot is Amendment 69/Proposed Initiative 20 or State Health Care System. Backers were informed last November they had collected enough valid vote signatures to put it before voters.

The NCLA Board of Directors will take positions on all ballot measures qualified for the November 2106 ballot.  The process for the NCLA taking positions on ballot measures is different than that for legislative proposals. In this case, after presentations to the NCLA Board of Directors by the proponents and opponents of the proposed measures, the NCLA Board formally recommends a position to the Boards of Directors of our member organizations.   Those Boards then ratify or reject the NCLA recommendation.  If ratified by all, the position becomes the official position of the NCLA and all of our member organizations.  If one or more of the Boards reject the recommendation, the issue is revisited by the NCLA Board to determine if a consensus can be reached on a position.  If we are unable to reach a consensus, 2/3 plus one position, the issue reverts to the individual member organizations to take their own position on the measure.

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Transportation Funding Efforts Bolstered by Introduction of State Budget; Equal Pay Makes Way to Senate

Transportation

The NCLA and Fix North I-25 Business Alliance were bolstered this last week with the introduction of the state budget that included a guarantee of $158M for transportation for the 2016-17 fiscal year.  The funding was a significant step in driving towards resolution of the funding and finance debate the NCLA and Fix North I-25 prompted last April and continued this legislative session.

NCLA and Fix North I-25 have been advocating through Fix Colorado Roads, the statewide organization established under Fix North I-25, for a permanent general fund funding mechanism for transportation to replace a temporary and volatile mechanism put in place in 2009, referred to as Senate Bill 228.  The 228 mechanism has not delivered upon its promise of $1 Billion for transportation over 5 years making the mechanism fatally flawed.    By securing a permanent and stable funding mechanism, the opportunity to leverage such funds through bonding exists.  Bonding is an imperative to see North I-25 expanded to three lanes by 2025.

The House and Senate will consider the state budget over the course of the next two weeks and transportation funding will be a central point of debate.

Equal Pay

House Democrats gave approval to the three equal pay bills last week, while Republicans argue there are already plenty of laws on the books aimed at ensuring women earn the same as their male counterparts. In passing their bill to require any company that bids on state contracts meet equal-pay standards, Democratic Reps. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Janet Buckner of Aurora said the state has to lead by example.  The bill passed the House and is headed to the Republican-held Senate, where it’s likely headed for the graveyard of well-intended legislation.

Two additional Democrat sponsored equal pay bills have made their way through the House.  House Bill 1156 would give every employee the right to discuss his or her wages without repercussions from employers. House Bill 1166, sponsored by Danielson and Rep. Joe Salazar from Thornton, would block employers from asking about salary history.  HB 1166 passed committee on a bi-partisan vote but it, and HB 1156, are both anticipated to be defeated in the Senate.

The NCLA opposes all three measures on the grounds that existing laws and the market sufficiently protect employees.

 

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East and West Look to Store More Water

When it comes to water, the east and west often do not align. That is until an unlikely pair recently introduced a water proposal to find storage solutions on the eastern slope.

House Bill 16-1256 proposes a comprehensive study on how much water is leaving the South Platte River basin into Nebraska in excess of what the state is required to send downstream.

The idea comes from Representative J. Paul Brown and Senator Jerry Sonnenberg. Brown is a Republican from Ignacio, a small community in southwestern Colorado that is also home of former US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Sonnenberg, a Republican, is the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and hails from Sterling in northeastern Colorado, the other corner of the state.

The proposal calls for the Colorado Water Conservation Board to conduct a hydrology study of the river basin, specifically estimating for each of the past 20 years the volume of water that has been diverted to Nebraska. The study will take particular note when there were heavy flood years, such as the massive floods in northern Colorado in 2013.

The study will also examine how to save Colorado’s water in the future, either by recharging aquifers or in new or expanded reservoirs. Brown is hopeful the study will prompt new ideas for water storage on the eastern plains. “If we can do that, we will need less Western Slope water, we won’t dry up area farm land and we’ll have bigger supply for municipal, industrial, environment and agricultural uses,” Brown told the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee.

Christian Reece, Executive Director of Club 20 testified in support of the measure arguing that, “In 2015, more than 2 million acre feet of water left the state that could have been stored for use here in Colorado.”

The Democrat controlled House Committee unanimously approved the measure last week. The bill heads to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration of its $250,000 funding request from the State’s Water Supply Reserve Fund.

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Approach to Retain Tax Revenue Has Broader Implications; Attorney General Amps Up Transportation Funding Debate

Tax Haven Measure Opposed by Business Community

The House is considering a measure to change tax policy in such a manner that economic development and business advocates argue will have a chilling effect on retaining and attracting new corporate headquarters to Colorado.

House Bill 16-1275 would place a measure on the November 2016 ballot to allow voters to decide whether to require corporations to pay taxes on income from affiliated corporations incorporated in “tax haven jurisdictions”, unless the affiliated business is operating for “legitimate business purposes.”

The proposal was introduced by Democrat Representatives Brittany Pettersen and Mike Foote. They argue the measure is necessary to “close a tax loophole that allows many of the biggest companies doing business in Colorado to pay no state income taxes.” The proposal is projected to generate an estimated $75M in additional revenue, which would be dedicated to K-12 public school funding.

The broad proposal is drawing equally broad opposition from the Colorado business community, including the NCLA. Opponents argue the measure will make Colorado less competitive, less appealing for relocation and expansion, and creates a risk of double taxation for Colorado companies.

HB 1275 would grant the Department of Revenue (DOR) broad authority and discretion to develop a list of “tax haven countries”, or a blacklist of countries. Blacklisting has been abandoned by all but two states in order to maintain strong trade relations with other countries. DOR would have additional discretion to define “legitimate business purpose.” A company would be required to prove to the “satisfaction of DOR” that they are engaged in a legitimate business.

The bill has been considered in the House and awaits its third reading where it is expected to pass on a party-line vote. With the split majority between the House and Senate, the bill is on a path for defeat in the first Senate committee. Despite the known outcome, the business community has been vocal in their opposition to demonstrate the implications of public policy upon economic development decisions.

Attorney General Opinion Amps Up Transportation Funding Debate

Last week, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman entered into the budget fray by opining that a shift in budget policy to allow the existing hospital provider fee to be statutorily converted to a government enterprise is defensible as constitutional. The opinion provided new energy around the debate that has important implications for the transportation funding and finance that the NCLA is leading.

The opinion provides a path by which the legislature could move the fee to a enterprise which, in turn, would provide more flexibility in the state budget. The flexibility would prompt the flow of some short-term funds for transportation, argue proponents, including the Governor and Democrats. Republican opponents of the move are concerned about the legal implications but are also of the opinion that the suggested move runs contrary to the will of the TABOR amendment unless the voters approve such a change.

NCLA is working with leaders in both houses and the Governor’s office to build a compromise which achieves each parties’ mutual objective of funding and financing transportation in Colorado.

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