The first day of the 2016 Colorado Legislative Session is officially underway.  NCLA is leading the discussion on transportation funding and actively engaged on their priority legislative agenda which encompass critical issues affecting the northern Colorado business community including water, workforce and energy.

The first week of the legislative session is traditionally reserved for the pomp and circumstance of the opening of the people’s work.  Legislative leaders in both houses take to the dais to deliver remarks on the issue priorities of their party caucus’ and the Governor delivers his annual State of the State address.

The split majorities between the House and the Senate assure differences in priorities but remarks by the Governor and the leaders both sounded a call for bi-partisan collaboration to find solutions to the state’s biggest issues.

Speaker of the House, Dickie Lee Hullinghorst  (D-Boulder) provided a traditional approach in her opening day remarks laying out a long list of priorities she and her Democrat caucus will pursue and hope to achieve.  From the extension of parental leave to detailed specifics on the Clean Climate Plan, there will be numerous issues affecting labor, environment, workforce and business in which NCLA will be engaged on the House side.

House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) led off his remarks with a very strong call for transportation funding and finance.  He committed his effort to the $3.5B bonding proposal in which he and the NCLA are working together, Fix Colorado Roads Act.  DelGrosso challenged the House members to consider that there are dollars to be found for transportation within the $3 billion of general fund revenue growth experienced since 2009.  He capped off his remarks with a deep “line in the sand” opposing any effort  to undermine the Constitution and TABOR.

On the Senate side, Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) was reflective as he enters his last legislative session and last year in office.  Cadman served 8 years in the House of Representatives and will complete his 8 years in the Senate, the last two as President of the Senate, at the end of 2016.  In his remarks, Cadman took an unexpected and non-traditional approach to his opening remarks, one which typically would outline his priorities for 2016.  Cadman took to the dais reflect upon the manner in which bi-partisan collaboration can result in good work for the people of Colorado.  He looked to just last year, the most partisan session in recent memory, as an example of bi-partisan accomplishment despite the rancor. Much was accomplished, he said on issues of importance to Colorado. He framed his remarks under the cloak of each Senator’s responsibility under the oath of office and commitment to uphold the US and Colorado Constitutions.  He did not make a direct statement about budget fix suggested by the Governor and of significant debate, the hospital provider fee, nor did he speak to any other priorities, but his message was understood.

In her first opening day remarks as Senate Minority Leader, Senator Lucia Guzman (D-Denver) took the opportunity to discuss the philosophies of the Democrat party and how serving in the Minority, while not possessing the majority of votes, they have an important voice in the process to influence change.  Her comments were thoughtful, and invited a collaborative spirit in the Senate.


Senate Minority Leader Guzmán’s remarks

Senate President Cadman’s remarks

House Speaker Hullinghorst’s remarks

House Minority Leader DelGrosso’s remarks

Governor John Hickenlooper State of the State remarks


Follow Action at the State House through NCLA’s Legislative Tracking Report

The first day of the 2016 legislative session is behind us and the first of the anticipated 650+ bills have been introduced.   Here is a link to our NCLA Legislative Tracking Report.  The report is a “live” document that is updated as legislative activity is happening at the statehouse. As the session unfolds, the report will be updated with new bills that the NCLA Board of Directors will consider their possible engagement.  In addition, to updated status of the pending bills, there is a wealth of information provided within the tracking report itself with links to bill summaries, complete bill language, amendments, fiscal notes, voting records, and related news articles.  I invite you become familiar with this useful resource.





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Resource Materials Now Available From 2015 Regional Issues Summit

On Friday, December 11, the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance and Leadership Northern Colorado hosted the annual Regional Issues Summit. The 2015 Regional Issues Summit brought attention to some of the larger issues facing Northern Colorado. Key topics included in the Summit are: Regional Transportation Agenda, Water, Energy and Workers. 
For presentation materials and event recap see the links below.
Special thanks to our sponsors: 

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, the North Front Range MPO, Upstate Colorado, Kaiser Permanente, AlphaGraphics, Brock & Company, Woodward, Encompass Technologies, LEAP, Vital for Colorado, the North Front Range MPO and Old Town Media. 

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NCLA to Lead Legislative Effort to Fund I-25 North Expansion April 6, 2015

The NCLA, working with the legislative delegation from Northern Colorado, will introduce legislation next week which proposes to accelerate the funding and completion of the I-25 North Corridor and 30 other economically significant transportation projects across the state.

Since last year, the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance and the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance, an organization formed by the (NCLA), has been organizing and pursuing opportunities to fully fund the expansion of I-25 North from Fort Collins to Longmont. The NCLA and the Alliance have worked closely with, and are joined in the legislative effort by, members of the I-25 North Coalition made up of the region’s elected officials.

House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) will lead the effort in the House of TRANS II, a proposal that renews the successful TRANS Bonding Program of 1999 that built T-Rex and 27 other significant transportation projects throughout Colorado. Under TRANS II, Colorado can generate approximately $3.5 Billion in funding by bonding a portion of federal gas taxes to accelerate defined, and much needed, transportation projects throughout Colorado. In addition to important projects in every region of the state, signature projects for TRANS II would be congestion mitigation of the I-70 Mountain Corridor and the North I-25 Corridor.

The measure will require voter approval this November. The measure passed by 62% in 1999.

Without a significant funding plan, I-25 North expansion is not expected to be completed until 2070. Today the project is nearly $1 billion to fund. Over time, project costs will continue to escalate making funding it nearly unattainable in the future.

Pursuing a bonding plan to fund the North I-25 Corridor and other projects of economic significance throughout Colorado is the most cost effective and prudent use of existing, yet diminishing, transportation revenues. The $3.5 billion plan is accomplished without raising taxes and secures a large pool of funds at the lowest possible borrowing rate. When contrasted against funding projects on a “pay as you go” basis, the costs of construction inflation which exceed state borrowing rates, it is easy to conclude that bonding is the cheapest, and most efficient, way to fund transportation needs in Colorado.

The TRANS II legislation will be introduced the week of April 13th. Leader DelGrosso will lead the effort along with Senate Transportation Committee chair Randy Baumgardner (R-Winter Park) who will serve as the lead Senate sponsor. Northern Colorado legislators on both sides of the aisle will unify together to lead and fund transportation in Colorado by joining DelGrosso and Baumgardner as co-sponsors.

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NCLA Board Heads to Denver to Talk Transportation with Northern Colorado Legislators

Relationships are the cornerstone of success in the legislative arena. NCLA has honored this reality since its inception in 1992 and continued to build and foster its relationships with members of the legislative delegation from northern Colorado over dinner last week.

Members of the Board of Directors of the NCLA were joined by leaders of NCLA’s member organizations, Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley Chambers of Commerce with Northern Colorado Economic Development and Upstate Colorado Economic Development, to host legislative leaders for dinner and conversation about issues of importance to the region.

NCLA was pleased to welcome House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland), Joint Budget Committee member and Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Representative Dave Young (D-Greeley), Chair of the Senate Local Government Committee, Senator Vicki Marble (R-Windsor), Senator John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins), House Minority Whip Perry Buck (R-Windsor), Representative Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins) and Representative Jeni Arndt (D-Fort Collins) to the event held at the Denver Art Museum restaurant, Palettes.

The NCLA took the opportunity to visit with the delegation about the importance of the north I-25 corridor. I-25 North serves as the major north-south spine for the multitude of significant east-west corridors that bind northern Colorado into a strong economic engine. David May, President of the Fort Collins Chamber and Barbara Koelzer, Past Chair of the NCLA argued that staying ahead of the congestion curve along this crucial corridor is imperative to maintaining northern Colorado’s economic strength.

A third lane from Highway 14 in Fort Collins to Highway 66 north of Longmont is one of the highest transportation funding priorities for the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance, an organization formed by the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance (NCLA), the region’s business coalition, to focus specific attention to getting that corridor funded. Under traditional funding scenarios, the $1.2 Billion project will be completed in 75 years. Given this timeline, the NCLA supports the pursuit of any and all funding options to expedite funding of this critical corridor.

Steve Tool, Chair of the NCLA Board, conveyed to the legislative delegation that success for the I-25 North corridor will come by working in a unified voice with the legislative delegation, the business community, and all of our elected officials from the region.

In their remarks, legislators agreed that working together, much could be accomplished.

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Labor Issues Heating Up the Relative Calm for Business

2015 has seen a squaring off between business and labor on the full spectrum of philosophical approaches to workplace and employer relations. Numerous bills have been introduced in the 60-plus days of the 120-day session with several others anticipated in the coming weeks.

Both sides of the aisles have taken up various labors issues with neither side likely to see their respective approaches making their way to the Governor’s desk. However, the introduction of legislation has prompted a conversation about the myriad of issues facing employers in their workplace relations.

During the 2013 legislative session, Democrats, newly in charge of both legislative bodies and holding the Governor’s office, muscled through several labor-friendly proposals drawing the ire of the Colorado business community. Proposals expanded the scope of discrimination lawsuits, increased punitive damage awards, challenged a well-functioning worker’s compensation system, increased family and medical leave mandates, and enhanced collective bargaining.

This year, Republicans, now holding a slim-majority in the Senate, have taken aim at several of the measures passed in 2013 while Democrats are hoping to build upon the 2013 measures while also imposing new mandates upon employers.

Two Republican measures challenge the 2013 expansion of discrimination lawsuits and associated punitive lawsuits. On the House side, Loveland’s own Brian DelGrosso, the House Minority Leader, took aim with the introduction of House Bill 15-1172 to reverse the authority for punitive damage awards in discrimination lawsuits. The bill was met with defeat in the Democrat-controlled House. A Senate bill, Senate Bill 15-069, is still alive and awaiting Senate action. The measure fully repeals the 2013 expansion of discrimination lawsuits. The bill is certain to meet defeat on the House side, however.

House Democrats, for their part, have introduced a number of labor-friendly proposals addressing the minimum wage, additional expansion of the family and medical leave act, (HB 15-1258) a private employer-mandated retirement financing system (HB 15-1235), and enhanced unemployment insurance benefits (HB 15-1231). The introduction of the bills comes with the full knowledge and expectation by Democrat leaders that these measures will be defeated in the Republican-controlled Senate. The opportunity to have a debate on the topics was not to be missed, however.

NCLA has taken proactive positions on all of the measures. The NCLA Board supports HB 1172 and SB 69. The NCLA opposes HB 1258, HB 1235 and HB 1231.

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