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NCLA Board to Meet with Northern Colorado Legislators and Engages in First Bills on Legislative Docket

The NCLA Board of Directors will make its way to the State Capitol to meet with members of the northern Colorado Legislative delegation this week about NCLA’s legislative agenda for 2016.  The conversation will focus upon our regional priorities of funding of the north I-25 corridor, water, energy, and workforce.

The Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance Board of Directors took their first positions on newly introduced legislation affecting the northern Colorado business community.  Transportation, water, and labor issues were among the first of over 100 bills the NCLA Board of Directors will consider during the course of the 120-day legislative session.

As it is structured, the 23-member NCLA Board of Directors is granted full public policy making authority by its four member organizations boards of Directors, including the Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley Chambers of Commerce with Upstate Colorado Economic Development.  The granted authority makes the NCLA very nimble and responsive to the fast moving pace of the legislature.   Positions taken by the Board are actively communicated to the northern Colorado legislative delegation and legislative leaders.

The first of several anticipated employer-employee related legislative proposals, the NCLA Board opted to continue its opposition to legislation which directs employers to provide parental leave to employees to attend to children’s activities.  House Bill 16-1002, proposes to continue the program established in 2009 but also extends benefits to parents of preschool children and as well as expands the scope of activities in which a parent may seek leave.  The NCLA continues its opposition to parental leave mandates believing employee benefits should be the purview of employers.

Fort Collins Representative Jeni Arndt has introduced House Bill 16-1004 which establishes measurable goals and deadlines for the implementation of the Colorado Climate Action Plan.  The plan, released in September 2015, includes policy recommendations the state can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   In light of the issuance by the EPA of the federal Clean Power Plan also in September, the NCLA chose to oppose HB 16-1004 as their may be conflict between the two plans upon full development of the state’s plan to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan.

Finally, the NCLA board also chose to oppose House Bill 16-1005 which allows for the personal collection of precipitation from a residential rooftop under certain conditions.  Colorado’s strict and efficient water law of prior appropriation dictates that all water is claimed under Colorado’s water law.  In the interest of protecting water rights for our communities and the agriculture industry, NCLA opposes HB 16-1005.

 

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2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION UNDERWAY

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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