NCLA Racking Up Key Wins with Two Weeks to Go

Housing Affordability, Transportation Infrastructure, Water Management | 0 comments

NCLA has been hard at work racking up key wins over the last couple of weeks as the intensity of the session reaches a peak with two weeks remaining in the state legislative session.  

We delve into four pending legislative discussions and the successes in each.  

Transportation Bill: Paving the Way Forward

NCLA’s persistence in our efforts to assure the build of the North I-25 Express Lanes from Fort Collins to Longmont was put to the test with the introduction of Senate Bill 184.  

Buried in the details of the measure built to fund the build of the Front Range Passenger Rail from Denver to Fort Collins was a bold provision to sweep toll revenues from North I-25 to fund the multi-billion rail project. The provision would assure that reinvesting of toll revenues in the continuation build of the Express Lanes south of Longmont through Adams County’s “crash corridor” wouldn’t materialize.  NCLA’s Tom Norton and Sandra Hagen Solin testified before the Senate Transportation and Finance Committees urging the amendment to address the concerns. 

Steam and Wetlands Protection 

The movement of water lies at the heart of numerous industries, from agriculture to manufacturing, that impact NOCO. Federal action to shift responsibility of permitting to the state  prompted recent introduction of two bills, HB24-1379 and SB24-127, sparking debate on “dredge and fill” regulations.  At issue, where such regulatory authority should be housed, what waters in the state should be regulated and how. 

The bills pit the Speaker of the House (HB 1327) against Weld County Senator Barb Kirkmeyer (SB 127).  SB 127, a priority support bill of the NCLA, creates new permitting commission but limits its oversight to “gap waters” in contrast to the Speaker’s HB 1327 which covers every drop of water of the state.  

  • WIN: The bill overcame its biggest hurdle with the help of Loveland Senator Janice Marchman’s difficult and key vote to amend and support passing the bill out of committee after compelling testimony from her community, including from NCLA Board Member John Kolanz of Otis and Beddingfield.

Regulated industries and developers fear devastating delays in securing permits if Speaker McCluskie’s bill becomes law.  

Construction Defects: Building Resilience

Debate over the reform of construction litigation continues.  Key to the construction of for sale condos and economic mobility, the measure continues to draw significant resistance by trial lawyers who’s litigation has stymied availability of insurance.   

  • WIN:  After much negotiation with the trial lawyers, Senate Bill 106 passed the State Senate on a 25-8 vote with the support of NoCo Senators Ginal, Marchman, Kirkmeyer and Pelton.  

Discussions surrounding bills like SB24-106, aimed at reviving insurance markets for condo development, highlight the ongoing challenges facing the sector. SB24-106 now heads to the House where it faces continuing challenges from trial lawyers.

Air Quality and Climate Legislation: Adapting to Change

Countless measures have been introduced this legislative session on more regulation and policy on the oil and gas sector utilizing “air quality” permitting, enforcement as a means to further degrade the oil and gas sector.  However, several of the Air Quality measures face fiscal scrutiny by the budget-sensitive legislature.  Meanwhile, NCLA strongly supports SB24-095 for its focus on other ozone sources that impact air quality instead of the overly-regulated oil and gas industry.  

  • WIN:  Bold Air Quality measures, SB 165, SB 166, HB 1330 and others are hung up in the House and Senate Appropriations Committee with our work with CDPHE.  For now, with 2 weeks left in the session, the bills could languish on the calendar beyond the final day.

With environmental organization priority bills languishing in appropriations, expect sponsors to “title shop” by pulling provisions of their bills to bolt onto a bill that will pass and has a broad enough title.  

Two weeks to go.  Stay tuned as we look to add more wins to the board!