Under the Dome

Under the Dome: Governor Unveils Affordable Housing and Land Use Proposal

Priola, Marchman Pushed to Vote Against Transportation Sneak Attack

March 27, 2023

The long awaited and much anticipated affordable housing bill, Senate Bill 23-213 was unveiled by Governor Jared Polis last week.  The NCLA will consider the over 100-page proposal during its board meeting this week.  The proposal outllines a series of statewide policy provisions including an overlay of statewide minimum standards for local governments to follow in their land use decision making related to housing, parking and higher densities in identified regions of the state.   Further, the state, the plan articulates, “shall set Strategic Growth Objectives to incentivize growth in transit-oriented areas, infill areas, and strategic and efficient growth at the edges of urban areas.”

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Transportation: Move to Undercut Rural and NoCo Presence; Future NoCo Road Projects Need Input

More bills introduced impacting business

March 13, 2023

Last week, Senate Transportation Committee Chair, Senator Faith Winter (D-Broomfield), slipped an amendment into a House bill to change representation on the State Transportation Advisory Committee by making a complete change to how Colorado’s Transportation Planning Regions (TPRs) are defined and drawn.  The result would dramatically undercut northern Colorado and rural Colorado presence in state funding decisions. 

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Tougher Air Quality Policy Concept Revealed

New Layer of Permitting Would be Imposted Upon Oil/Gas Sector

February 28, 2023 

On the heels of the EPA decision last summer to designate the Denver Metro Area and the North Front Range in “severe non-attainment” of their strict air quality standards, environmental organizations and progressive legislators have been crafting a measure to impose stronger emission restrictions and permitting requirements upon all industry sectors.   The plan was revealed in a policy concept paper shared with NCLA and some stakeholders last week.

The concept paper revealed a new layer of permitting requirements for all “non-road” engines including the filing of a construction permit with the Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) and a newly required Air Pollutant Emission Notice (APEN) for new and broader classes of industry sectors.

Additionally, the oil and gas sector, already under the regulatory authority of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the strict rules established by Senate Bill 19-181, would be required to secure a construction permit by the APCD, as stated specifically, “a person shall not commence oil and gas operations without first receiving permit approval from both APCD and COGCC”.  

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Fair Work Week Bill Stalled in First Committee

Market Undermining Affordable Housing Measures Looming

February 20, 2023 

In the face of strong business opposition, the onerous Fair Work Week measure stalled in its first committee last week.  After hours of testimony from supporters and opponents, action on the bill was delayed until a later date, signaling that sponsors of the measure do not have the votes to get the bill out of the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee. 

Larimer County’s Representative Judy Amabile (D) chairs the Committee and joined the NCLA for our monthly NCLA Board meeting with our northern Colorado Legislative Delegation the morning of the hearing providing additional opportunity for board members to share their opinions on the bill ahead of the committee hearing.  Rep. Amabile noted her concurrence in opposition to the introduced version and to the proposed amendments that were circulated the day before.

NCLA Board Chair David Burks, Sweetheart Winery in Loveland, shared the NCLA position in opposition to to the measure and amendments noting, “XX.”

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Fair Work Week Bill Faces Strong Business Opposition

Measure Scheduled for First Committee Hearing; Call Your Legislator

February 13, 2023

House Bill 1118, more recognizably known as the “Fair Work Week” bill, is facing strong opposition from the collective Colorado business community, including the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance.  The NCLA joins Chambers of Commerce across state, industry organizations and the NFIB in standing firmly against the bill that dicates to employers operating with hourly employees how they schedule time, compensate for changes and guarantee minimum time. 

Leading the opposition are the trade associations directly in the cross hairs of the legislation — the Colorado Restaurant Association and the Colorado Retail Council.  Beyond restaurant and retail, however, the measure will have a broad reach affecting thousands of private and public employers by placing new restrictions on scheduling practices ultimately negatively affecting the very employees the bill intends to help. 

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Governor’s Issue Mash Up

Affordable Housing and Water Crisis Leverage for Climate Agenda

Leveraging against the crisis in affordable housing and water across Colorado, Governor Jared Polis will converge the issues with key agenda items driving his climate change agenda to usurp long standing local control of transportation, land use and growth.

Expect to see one large bill proposal, still in formation, that mashes together state mandated requirements for higher densities, transit utilization, water conservation, stricter building codes, and ‘smart growth’ requirements. The Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties Inc joins the NCLA in bracing for the drop of the measure being crafted behind closed doors.

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Welcome to the 74th General Assembly

Expanded Democratic Majority will Drive Legislative Agenda in 2023

The 2022 Election brought with it a significantly expanded Democrat majority at the statehouse.  Democrat leadership interpreted the outcome to a be a mandate of the policies they wrought in the last two years, not the resounding rubuke of the continuing presence of former President Donald Trump and a tattered GOP.  As a result, the business community will face unprecedented policy and political challenges in 2023 Legislative Session which got underway last week. 

Among the pomp and circumstance of the opening week, which saw the Inauguration of Governor Jared Polis for his second term, were the remarks of leadership in both bodies by both parties providing insight into the goals and the roles of each.  Below a summary of their remarks with links to the entirety of each: 

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The 2022 Legislative Session

An NCLA Debrief on Key Issues Affecting NoCo Business

May 20, 2022

In an ever-evolving political landscape, the 2022 Legislative Session finally ended on May 11.  After three years of policy turmoil for Colorado’s business sector, the session offered a mixed bag of policy outcomes on the key issues affecting businesses in Northern Colorado. 

In important areas, namely environment and labor policy matters, the policy decisions emerging from the 2022 legislative session will contribute to a further erosion of Colorado’s competitiveness.  As reported last fall, Colorado dropped from the 11th most business-friendly state to No. 29 in just one cycle of CNBC’s Top States for Business Rating. The Metro Denver EDC estimated that this decline is in large part due to our policy environment. 

There were some bright spots in an otherwise dim session. NCLA’s highest priority to backfill the fully depleted Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and repay the federal UI loan was accomplished with a $600M commitment from the available ARPA dollars addresses over a quarter of the $2B hole and will forestall the imposition of a UI Premium Surcharge upon businesses across the state.

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Northern Colorado Challenges CDOT Decision On North I-25

North I25 Coalition and Legislators sent letters to Governor Polis and the Transportation Commission to reconsider the Decision to Not Pursue IIJA Mega Grant Funding for North I25

April 23, 2022

The NCLA’s Fix North I-25 Business Alliance, the North I-25 Coalition and 16 State Legislators representing Larimer, Weld and Adams County sent letters this week to the Colorado Transportation Commission, the Governor Jared Polis and CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew expressing dismay at the apparent decision not to pursue federal MEGA grant funding for the North I-25 Corridor available from the passage of the massive federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The Alliance and Coalition letter notes, “The North I-25 multi-modal corridor — stretching from north of Fort Collins south through the North Metro suburbs of Thornton and Northglenn — serves as the spine of Colorado’s Front Range, the essential national multimodal freight corridor linking interstate commerce, and is a critical national defense asset. It substantially serves as the economic connector of Colorado’s fastest-growing region – northern Colorado”.

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EPA Moves To Place Air Quality Restrictions on Region

NCLA Weighs in on Fentanyl, Crime and Business

April 16, 2022

EPA Shifts Region to “Severe” Non-Attainment Status
The EPA has begun the formal process of moving the Denver Metro/North Front Range Non-
Attainment Area to a “Severe” rating from “Serious”. When approved, the status will trigger a myriad of costly and more stringent air quality measures and requirements across the region for many years. The measures will work alongside ongoing monitoring to reduce GHG within a 6-year time horizon.

Among the measures that are anticipated are:

  • The use of reformulated gasoline in the summer months
    • Projected to increase cost of gas by 40 – 50 cents per gallon’
  • A reduction of the threshold that requires control measures on emissions sources from 50 tons per year to 25 tons per year
    • Will trigger requirement for new state permits for emissions for 473 new emission sources than currently permitted

Any improvements to air quality demonstrated in the next few years as a result of policy and regulatory measures advanced by the Governor’s administration and legislators in the last two years will be applied to consideration of a reversal of the severe status at the next 5 year interval but were not factored in EPAs determination to move to a “Severe” status. Such policy and regulatory changes include new limits on emissions from oil and gas operations (SB 19-181), demands and plans for the closure of coalfired power plants (HB 19-1261), policies and funding to accelerate electric vehicle sales (SB 21-260, others), and new Colorado Department of Transportation rules on reducing emissions when planning major road projects (SB 21-260).

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State Economic Forecasts Shows Future Risks

NCLA Takes Positions on Newly Introduced Bills

April 9, 2022

This week Kate Watkins, Chief State Economist for Legislative Council, provided a presentation to the NCLA Board of Directors following the release of the State’s March Revenue Forecast.

Amid soaring inflation, elevated fuel prices, fresh worries about supply-chain disruptions, and the uncertainty around the Ukraine invasion, the March forecast reveals that while jobs have recovered from pre-pandemic levels, economic forecasts risks are highly elevated. As inflationary pressure continues, prospects of a recession were factored in the forecast this quarter, a first in many quarters.  Meanwhile, economic activity has reached and exceeded pre-pandemic levels but employment has yet to fully recover in several service industries hit hardest by the pandemic.

Notably, growth of the past year gave the General Assembly a projected $3.2 billion, or 20.7 percent, more to spend or save in the General Fund than what is budgeted to be spent and saved in FY 2021-22.  The legislators opted to spend nearly all of the projected revenue (we’ll have a breakdown of the budget next week).  Excess TABOR Revenue that exceeds the allowable “Referendum C Cap” amounts to $1.56 billion.  Majority Democrats are considering how to refund those dollars to taxpayers. 

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Workforce Package and More Air Quality Measures

5 Weeks remain in 2022 Legislative Session with More Bills to Come

April 1, 2022

Air Quality Improvement Investments
Senate President Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) introduced Senate Bill 193 regarding “Air Quality Improvement Investments”. Another all encompassing measure, with spending over $125M, the bill includes the following primary elements:

  • Creates the $25M “industrial and manufacturing operations clean air grant program” in the Colorado energy office to award grant money to private entities, local governments, and public private partnerships for voluntary projects to reduce air pollutants from industrial and manufacturing operations.
  • Creates the $12M “community access to electric bicycles grant program” through which the office awards grant money to local governments and nonprofit organizations that administer or plan to administer a bike share program or an ownership program for the provision of electric bicycles in a community. There is also created a “community access to electric bicycles rebate program”.
  • Creates the $15M “diesel truck emissions reduction grant program” through which the
    division of administration in the CDPHE awards grant money to certain private and public entities for decommissioning diesel trucks and replacing the trucks with newer model trucks.
  • Creates the $65M “electrifying school buses grant program” through which the department, with technical assistance from the office, awards grant money to school districts and charter schools to help finance the purchase and maintenance of electric-powered school buses, the conversion of fossil-fuel-powered school buses to electric-powered school buses, charging infrastructure, and upgrades for electric charging.
  • Infrastructure and the retirement of fossil-fuel-powered school buses.
  • Updates the definition of federal act regarding the reference to the federal Clean Air Act.
  • $7M to the CDPHE to finance the aerial surveying of pollutants
  • Other more technical additions for review

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UITF Partial Replenishment Secured

Colorado-Nebraska South Platte Water Dispute gets National Attention

March 26, 2022

$600M Replenishment of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Secured
The state budget proposal was finalized this week with the release of the March Economic Forecast.  The Joint Budget Committee and legislative leaders will offer $600 Million in funds from the federal ARPA dollars to replenish a portion of the depleted unemployment insurance trust fund.  As noted in the final report on the Economic Recovery & Relief Cash Fund Task Force, an infusion of $600 million to the UITF will lower UI premium tax rates for 4 out of the next 5 years. Based on different growth forecasts, there are scenarios where the total benefit to employers could exceed $600 million by 2027. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s hypothetical scenario of a 10-employee firm showed that, with a $600 million infusion to the UITF, the firm would save a total of $1,896 from 2022-2026, assuming all 10 employees make at least $30,600 annually or a payroll of at least $306,000. NCLA is pleased the $600 M pledge will be a reality, but we note the UITF fund balance peaked at $1.2 billion in March of 2020, and the subsequent depletion of the fund and federal loans due to pandemic unemployment demand left the UITF in $2 Billion hole.  Replenishment of the UITF has been a high priority for the NCLA and we will continue our pursuit of additional relief in the coming year. 

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Legislative Council’s Economic Forecast Released

Northern Colorado Delegation Visits NCLA Board

March 19, 2022

The March Economic Forecast
The Legislative Council March Economic Forecast was released on Thursday this week.  It will ultimately drive decisions on the UI Replenishment in addition to the other planned spending.  The report by Legislative Council notes:

“The General Assembly is projected to have $3.2 billion, or 20.7 percent, more to spend or save in the General Fund than what is budgeted to be spent and saved in FY 2021-22. As a budget has not yet been adopted for FY 2022-23, this amount holds current appropriations for FY 2021-22 constant and assumes current law transfers, the projected TABOR refund obligation, and the 15.0 percent General Fund reserve requirement. The $3.2 billion amount does not incorporate other caseload growth, inflationary, or other budgetary pressures. Revenue subject to TABOR is expected to exceed the Referendum C cap by $1.56 billion”.

Risks to the forecast. The war in Ukraine, the ongoing pandemic, mounting inflationary pressure, and evolving monetary policy all pose significant risks to the economic outlook, elevating the risk of recession during the forecast period. While projected TABOR refunds are large enough to absorb regular forecast error, a recession would likely reduce revenue below the Referendum C cap, resulting in less revenue available for spending or saving in the General Fund budget.  

Included in the report is an economic snapshot of the state’s regions. Here is the section for Northern Colorado (Larimer / Weld).

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Anticipation of the Economic Forecast

With a Continued Push to Replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund

March 12, 2022

The Joint Budget Committee Long Bill and Economic Forecast Anticipation
As the state anxiously awaits the JBC Economic Forecast, the Joint Budget Committee will be finalizing the long bill and budget through the end of March, and the Economic Forecast will be presented to the Committee on March 17.  The March economic forecast presents the final numbers to which the joint budget committee budgets its annual state budget bill, aka “The Long Bill”   With the Ukrainian crisis compounding and exacerbating inflationary pressures that have been evident for some time, there is high interest in how the state economist will project state revenues in the coming year and in the 3 year forecast horizon.   

Should you have an interest in the preparation of Colorado’s state budget, Legislative Council provides , tools to explore aspects of the state budget

With the budget looming, a series of legislative measures are pending that have appropriation requests attached and await action by the respective body’s Appropriations Committee.  The Fiscal Notes report, released this week, contains several reports showing the fiscal impacts of all legislation currently pending before the General Assembly or that has been enacted into law at the 2022 legislative session.  Data is available on expenditures, revenue, TABOR refunds, and fund transfers, as well as the net General Fund budget impact of legislation.  Of all the bills introduced this session so far, there will be almost $58mm in expenditures, have nearly a ($362mm) net budget impact, a TABOR Refund of ($219mm) with a net result of ($142mm).  The Operating Budget for the various 21 state agencies can be reviewed on the Colorado Operating Budget Report.  For FY 21-22, that total operating budget of $36.5B.  This includes Includes total appropriations and General Fund-only appropriations for each state agency.

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ETRP 2.0 Legislation Defeated

Transportation Funding Grants Explored while P3 Progress is Made

March 5, 2022

HB22-1138 Defeated after Business Community Pressures the House Finance Committee
NCLA took a lead role in the defeat of House Bill 22-1138, the “Clean Commute” bill or Employer Trip Reduction Program (ETRP) 2.0, which was killed on a 1-9 vote, including a no vote from Fort Collins Rep. Cathy Kipp in the House Finance Committee.  In the face of 4 no confirmed votes on Thursday last week, sponsors laid over the bill and scrambled to structure amendments to make the onerous provisions permissive.  Believing they had the votes, they brought the bill back for committee consideration.  NCLA’s Sandra Hagen Solin testified in opposition to the measure highlighting that “Employers have minimal abilities to prevent their employees from driving to and from work especially in rural areas.  SOV trip numbers and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) are driven by many factors outside the employer’s control, including economic factors, land use patterns, road infrastructure, the availability of transit, individual family circumstances, and others.  Therefore, it is not equitable to hold the employer responsible for personal Colorado citizen choices.” 

With the resolve of opposition from NCLA, Colorado Chamber, Colorado Springs Chamber, Weld County, Auto Dealers Association and Associated General Contractors, coupled with the continued opposition of the Committee Chair, Shannon Bird, we worked during the day to hold our votes (and add to the count) as sponsors worked to count their own votes.  We will be sure to carefully follow any attempted amendments to HB 1026, a true incentive measure, over in the Senate that would add back in some of the undesirable requirements of HB 1138.

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On the Heels of Transportation Secretary Buttigieg’s
Visit, CDOT Notices More Rulemakings

SB-126 to Prioritize Water Storage Projects on the South Platte Basin
Advances to the Senate Floor

February 25, 2022

Buttigieg’s I-70 Visit with Hopes to Include I-25 in the Mix
During his state tour, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with Colorado leaders to discuss the
$600 million + project that would significantly expand I-70 of Floyd Hill. He said the upgrade is helpful
for both the economies of Colorado and the nation. Colorado is expected to receive nearly $5.5
billion in federal funding over the coming five years for infrastructure, like the Floyd Hill project, that
would be used to improve roads, bridges, public transportation, airports, electric vehicle charging
networks, and highway safety programs. The North I-25 Coalition is working to ensure the remaining
unfunded segments of North I-25 are included in this federal funding and positioned to secure
available federal infrastructure grants.

Important South Platte Basin Water Storage Bill Sails Through Committee
SB22-126. Prioritize Water Storage Projects South Platte Basin- STRONGLY SUPPORT unanimously
passed the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Shout out to our own Rich Werner
with Upstate Colorado for his convincing testimony in front of this Committee. Thank you, Rich!
Amendment L.001 was effective in gaining support from other basin proponents throughout Colorado
to collectively support the measure.

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Regulators Poised to Further Regulate Air Quality

NCLA Board Positions Taken on Key Bills

February 18, 2022

More Air Quality Regulation Bills Introduced
The exhaustive HB22-1244 – Public Protections from Toxic Air Contaminants creates another new program in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to regulate air toxics in Colorado.  “Air Toxics” are defined as “hazardous air pollutants, covered air toxics, and all other air pollutants that the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) designates by rule” based on their adverse health effects.  The bill creates very broad authority for the AQCC authorizing them to adopt more stringent rules than the corresponding requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. Among other things, the bill requires:

  • By January 1, 2024, APCD will establish a monitoring program to determine the concentration of toxic air contaminants in the state’s ambient air.  
  • Annually,  owners and operators of major and synthetic minor sources of pollution will submit an annual emissions inventory report that reports the levels of criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants that were emitted by the source in the preceding year, beginning January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023.
  • No later than July 1, 2027, the commission will identify by rule toxic air contaminants that may pose a risk of harm to public health in the state (high-risk toxic air contaminants) and adopt health-based standards and emissions limitations (airborne toxic control measures) for high-risk toxic air contaminants.
  • On or before July 1, 2032, and at least every five years after that, the commission will review the health-based standards and airborne toxic control measures to determine if the commission should:
    • Identify any additional high-risk toxic air contaminants; and
    • Adjust the existing health-based standards and airborne toxic control measures.

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Senate Majority Leadership Shuffle, UNC DO School

Slurry of Bills Introduced  

February 11, 2022

Farewell Senate President Garcia, Hello Senator Fenberg – A Changing of the Guard
Following the announced resignation last week of President of the Senate Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, the Senate Majority Caucus elected that current Senate Majority Leader, Steve Fenberg (D) of Boulder, will be the next President of the Senate. Senator Fenberg, giving up his power as the Majority Leader, will bring a different style to the leadership role than his predecessor. Bringing a more reserved approach to the dias, Senator Garcia will pass the gavel to Fenberg who has proven to be a more aggressive leader pushing the Democratic agenda with full force.

Joint Budget Committee Vice Chair Senator Dominick Moreno (D) of Adams County was elected by his caucus to fill the vacancy of Senate Majority Leader and takes a more pragmatic, moderate approach than his predecessor, Fenberg. Moreno’s move leaves a hole in the JBC.   The caucus selected Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D) of Jefferson County to fill the position reinstating her prior post on the JBC.  In previous sessions, Senator Zenzinger has proven to be been a friend of the business community and has been known to step out from the majority on important issues. We look forward to and congratulate all the Senators on their new roles in the legislature. 

Bill to Authorize Doctor Of Osteopathic Medicine School at UNCA Passes First Steps
The University of Northern Colorado’s plans to establish a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine School passed it’s first hurdles this week passing the Senate unanimously.  The bill authorizing the school moves to the House.  The NCLA strongly supports UNC’s initiative. 

Slurry of Bills Introduced in Last Week

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“Clean Commute” Emerges

Heavy Handed “Incentive” to Reduce Workforce Commute

February 4, 2022 

Under the guise of improving air quality, legislation to “incentivize” employers to provide and encourage the use of alternative methods of commuting to the workplace was introduced this week. House Bill 22-1138 by Representative Matt Gray (D-Broomfield) and Senator Faith Winter (D-Broomfield) presents an exhaustive list of requirement to qualify for a 50% tax credit to provide various types of alternative modes of transportation. The bill further requires employers of 100 employees or more to respond to survey information about the employee commute practices that will ultimately inform recommendations for further action by the Air Quality Control Commission for mandatory reductions in “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) by employees.

In June of 2021, the NCLA led the Colorado business community in capturing the defeat of the Employer Transportation Reduction Program (ETRP), a proposed AQCC regulation creating a mandatory program to change employee driving behavior. NCLA’s work to demonstrate significant and statewide business resistance and strong argument against the rule led the Governor to intercede and pulled the plug on the AQCC rulemaking of the E-TRP program. HB 1138 is in direct response to the failure of the ETRP program with sponsors desire to secure the tenets of the mandatory program with a ETRP-like statutory approach.

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Various Agencies Race to Administer Rulemakings Required from
Previous Session’s Fallout

January 31, 2022

In recent years, very consequential policy making has moved from the Capitol to the Governor’s Executive Agency board rooms. The sheer number of rules shifting Colorado’s policy and industry landscape over the last 3 years has been profound and vast. NCLA has assumed leadership roles in the myriad of rulemakings to ensure our voice is heard and the economic and direct impacts of rules on business are fully considered throughout the process. We are having an impact.

During the session of 2021, several bills became law that passed the baton to the Air Quality Control Commission, the Transportation Commission, the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, and the Public Utilities Commission. Additionally, several Enterprise Boards are now in full swing to implement legislation from the 2021 session each of which drives their own rules that translate into real impacts on Coloradoans.

Unfortunately, the rulemaking process for one agency might look dramatically different to another agency. For instance, the rulemaking process adhered to by the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) requires establishing party status, prehearing statements, formal testimony, and opportunities for rebuttal to other party comments. The Transportation Commission, on the other hand, undertook a less formal process during its most recent rulemaking conducting nine listening sessions across the state.

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Failure to Restore UI Funds will cost Biz $5.3B

UI Fund Replenishment Highest Priority for NCLA and Business

January 22, 2022

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state government’s policy responses, Colorado’s unemployment levels spiked in early 2020 and caused the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to become deeply insolvent and necessitated a federal loan to cover the unprecedented unemployment claims over the course of the last two years. As of July 2021, the UI Trust Fund is in hole by $2 Billion that will trigger a UI Premium Surcharge tax on every employer across Colorado in the coming year and beyond until the fund
is restored. The UI fund is not projected to become solvent until the 2024 fiscal year.

The Common Sense Institute, with whom the NCLA is a partner, released a new report on the challenge of the situation facing businesses and the economic impacts of the state failing to intervene with funding to restore the fund. The report explores the beneficial impact of Governor Jared Polis’ budget proposal to replenish the overdrawn Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund with $600M federal COVID relief funds.

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Hope for Our Colorado…Protect Our Colorado

Promises for Bipartisanship, Saving Coloradoans Money and Reducing Crime

January 14, 2022 

The gavels dropped, and just like that – the start of the 2nd Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly kicked off.   From the Governor to the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and the Minority Leaders, the topics of concern are similar – extreme inflation facing Colorado families, the safety of our communities, the environment, and impacts on our climate and early childhood education.  The paths to address those concerns, however, differ significantly. 

The NCLA enters the 2022 legislative session anticipating another rough ride for business.  The State of our State, the state of business is challenged.  With compounding policy and regulatory measures on business since our political landscape shifted to a tri-fecta, Democrat majority government, Colorado’s competiveness and appeal for business has plummeted.  

The NCLA enters the 2022 Legislative session emboldened.  We will fight for restoration of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund using the available federal ARPA funds in order to assure no business in Coloraod will be subjected to a UI Premium Surcharge.  We will defend against more air quality policy changes that spur yet more onerous regulatory measures on northern Colorado’s key industry sectors with questionable benefits but clear economic consequences.  We’ll resist labor bills that create greater liability for business, increased and undue costs, and approaches that should be allowed to emerge due to market forces not government regulation. 

The tone is set for the legislative session in the first week by the legislative leaders that guide the debate and by Governor who holds an outsized platform from which to dictate the direction of the state.  Insights into the priorities and direction are provided in their respective speeches.  The minority party’s voice is allowed to emerge on an equal stage to provide the counterbalance to the majority.   Summaries of their Opening Day Speeches and the Governor’s State of the State are shared below:

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SINE DIE: Historic Session Ends
Last minute policy moves good and bad for business

June 7, 2021

The 2021 legislative session is done. And none too soon.

In the final hours of the 2021 Legislative Session, a number of big moves and developments unfolded affecting Colorado businesses – and setting off unprecedented reach of regulatory processes and authority.

Veto-Threatened SB 200 Gets Repackaged into HB 1266 in the 24 Hours Before Session Ends; Industry Regulation Coming
Despite the veto threat by Governor Polis of SB 200 regarding the “Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice” that set off a drama-filled internal Democrat Leadership and Governor squabble on whether and how the Governor is meeting previously “aspirational” climate change goals, the environmental community and progressive Democrat leadership prevailed in the battle with the inclusion of nearly every aspect of SB 200 into House Bill 21-1266 regarding “Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Community. The Governor backed off his veto threat even though the major provisions of SB 200 are included and, for many industry sectors, the resulting amendment could be even worse than that in SB 200.

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Federal Stimulus Spending, Roads, Worker Rights
The Final Stretch……

May 28, 2021

Workplace Harassment
The NCLA has been actively engaged in the debate and negotiations on the NCLA opposed Senate Bill 176, the Protecting Opportunities and Worker’s Rights Act.  The bill was modestly improved by the Senate with the passage of Amendment L.020 but other attempts to amend the bill to the satisfaction of the Colorado business community by Senate Republicans failed.  Punitive damages for failure to provide training programs and allowing non-disclosure agreements were among the improvements but concerns remain regarding the inclusion of independent contractors to bring claims and the lack of inclusion of “severe or pervasive” harassment standard.  We will continue to work with our business community partners to make improvements in the House. 

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Agriculture, Tax Reform, Public Option
The Fight Continues to Keep Colorado Colorado…

May 21, 2021

The NCLA joined the Colorado Farm Bureau and other agriculture partners in months of dialogue with Senate sponsors about Senate Bill 21-87, the Agriculture Worker’s Bill of Rights proposal that the NCLA opposes.  This week the Senate debated the bill and adopted several amendments including Amendment L.019 to provide an exemption of the short-handled hoe ban for certified organic farmers.  Weld County Senators Barb Kirkmeyer and Senator Jerry Sonnenberg were vocal critics of the bill and its impact upon Weld County, the Northern Colorado region and the state.  The bill moves to the House where it will await it’s next committee hearing.  Greeley Representative Mary Young is a sponsor of the bill and the NCLA has been engaged with her about the status and concerns.  

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Transportation Bill Travels through Senate
And more introductions -Special District Transparency & Income Tax Restructuring and Federal Guidance

May 14, 2021

On Friday, Senate Bill 21-260, the Transportation Funding and Spending bill, was considered by the full Senate on second reading.  As expected, the bill passed but was heavily debated, and the NCLA successfully secured a number of changes to address many of the bills’ concerning factors. Monday’s Senate Finance Committee testimony laid the groundwork for these amendments.  Detailed updates of SB-260 are included below. 

Staff from the Joint Budget Committee, Legislative Council and Legislative Legal Services released an “Overview of Federal Guidance Concerning the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund Established Under the American Rescue Plan Act” memo this week.  The memo describes the allowable uses of the federal stimulus funding.  The NCLA was pleased to see a specific call out for the replenishment state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds as an allowable use.  The NCLA has been actively urging using the funds to draw down the debt in the UI fund to forestall a UI premium surcharge tax upon all employers.  We will be pushing for a chamber/industry letter encouraging the full restoration of the UI Trust Fund to its January 27, 2020 balance. 

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Air Quality Cloaked in a Transportation Bill

May 8, 2021

Senate Bill 260- Sustainability of the Transportation System was introduced last week, bypassing the Senate Transportation Committee and is headed directly to the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, May 10th, for its first hearing.  The NCLA Board of Directors voted on Thursday and has officially taken an “Amend” position.  Although the measure achieves many of the NCLA’s goals of finding a sustainable, long term funding source, providing financing options, there are problematic aspects of the measure we will address with sponsors and legislative leaders.  A deeper dive into the bill’s context is included below.

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The Long-Anticipated Transportation Bill Arrives
Front Range Rail, Public Option
One month to go…

April 30, 2021

With a recess insight, there is momentum to have major legislation measures introduced and pushed through.  Finally, this week the much-anticipated draft language was released for the Sustainability of Transportation System bill (SB 263).  Additional information about this measure is detailed later in this update.  Additionally, the public option legislation has been re-engaged with amendments.

The Road Ahead: A Transportation Conversation
Ahead of the release of the SB 263, The Colorado Sun hosted a virtual event on transportation funding in Colorado.  NCLA’s Sandra Hagen Solin joined an esteemed panel that included Transportation Committee Chairs Representative Matt Gray and Senator Faith Winter with Senate Transportation Committee Ranking Republican  Senator Ray Scott.  View the event here.

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Budget Week Continues
Legislative Council – Chief Economist – Economic Outlook Presentation

April 16, 2021

As the Budget continues to make its way through the House, NCLA has weighed in on several measures shown below. During this week’s NCLA Board meeting, special guest Kate Watkins, Chief Economist from Legislative Council, gave a presentation on Colorado’s Economic Outlook. The highlights of the presentation include:

  • The pandemic had profound impacts on our lives, but the pandemic economy has been much more resilient than forecasters expected in large part due to unprecedented federal fiscal stimulus
  • A broad-based economic recovery is expected with vaccine distribution, with the economy returning to trend in 2022
  • Labor markets will lag the recovery, with leisure and hospitality sectors remaining hardest hit
  • Inflationary pressures are expected to rise in the near-term but remain at or below historical growth rates (between 2% and 3%)
  • Risks to the Forecast
    • Income tax policy change impacts still yet to be seen
    • Additional federal stimulus: What happens when the stimulus wears off?
    • Measures on the ballot in November
  • Collections continue to surprise to the upside, additional stimulus, resiliency, and innovation
  • If upside risk materializes, revenue will be constrained by the Referendum C cap.

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Budget Week in the Senate
ETRP, Transportation – Rinse & Repeat

April 9, 2021

The FY 21-22 Budget 

The Joint Budget Committee proudly introduced the state’s proposed budget in the Senate this week.  Some of the highlights include:

  • $480.3 million to reduce the budget stabilization factor – bolstering school funding levels for the next two years. The “negative factor” gap in K-12 education funding is the amount by which state spending on schools falls short of the Amendment 23 formula – a persistent issue for Colorado due to TABOR restraints.
  • $473 million for state institutions of higher education. This will restore cuts made last year for students attending state institutions, stipends for qualified low-income students attending private institutions, and grants that support public institutions of higher education.
  • $380 million for future Public Employees’ Retirement Association Direct Distribution payments. This additional funding will ensure valued public servants like public school teachers, state troopers, university professors, and other employees have a pathway toward a comfortable retirement.
  • $124 million for 2021 transportation legislation. This allocation will help address Colorado’s growing transportation needs by restoring funds that were unavailable in 2020 due to more pressing fiscal needs arising from the pandemic.
  • $100 million to the State Education Fund. The State Education Fund is the primary funding source for teacher recruitment, full-day kindergarten, early literacy programs, and financing K-12 schools across the state.

The JBC chose the lower of the two General Fund revenue forecasts between Legislative Council and OSPB as the basis for the proposed budget.  Both forecasts project significantly higher General Fund revenues compared to the May 2020 forecasts that were used to craft the initial FY 2020-21 budget. The following table details the changes in the LCS and OSPB projections of General Fund revenues.

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Spending $3.9Billion, Funding North I-25 and
Engaging in Expansive Employer Liability Measures

April 2, 2021

Build Back Stronger Economic Recovery Listening Tour
With $3.9 Billion in new money burning a hole in the Colorado’s budget pockets from the American Rescue Act, in the past week, invitation-only guests, including the NCLA and Chambers, had the opportunity to convey their thoughts on where to use these one-time dollars. In total, the State will receive $27 Billion from Congressional action to deliver federal stimulus funds to states and taxpayers. We break down the funds, a combination of the recently passed American Rescue Plan and the “Christmas Deal” passed in December, into the following buckets and their allowable uses:

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Heavy Hearts, Gun Control and Build Back Stronger

Transportation and Labor Issues

March 26, 2021

The tragedy that shook our community this week will forever Impact the ten families and the rest of us as we mourn the senseless loss of those victims. Our state once again has been the subject of national media coverage of violence.  Click here for Tribute.

As a result, there have been many discussions around gun control at the Capitol this week. Currently, there are two measures (SB078 – Lost or Stolen Firearms and HB1106- Safe Storage of Firearms) that will no doubt be passed into law, and we anticipate probably seeing more gun control measures introduced. Rep. McKean’s Gun Transfer Background Check Permit Exemption was postponed indefinitely.

Build Back Stronger Economic Recovery Listening Tour
The Governor and lawmakers will conduct a broad listening tour across the state about how to spend the available $3.9 Billion in federal stimulus funds. Northern Colorado will have its turn on Tuesday, March 30, from 6-7:30 PM. Please sign up to be a part of the conversation.

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Transportation, Worker’s Rights & Economic Forecast

No rest for the weary

 March 19, 2021 

The legislature has shifted into full gear with committee hearings scheduled on key pieces of legislation, releasing the much-anticipated transportation “concepts” all while rulemaking efforts continue to progress with listening sessions around employee trip reduction plans, transportation and greenhouse gas reductions.  It appears the focus will also include worker’s rights and the business communities need to defend our positions on traditional methods of operations.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Alec Garnett (D-Denver), Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder), Senator Faith Winter (D-Westminser) and Representative Matt Gray (D-Broomfield) held to reveal the Transportation Concept Plan they have been working on for several months.  The Draft Legislative Proposal on State Transportation Funding includes:

  • New fees that will begin on 2023 on gas, diesel, electric vehicles, online retail order fees such as amazon deliver fees, Lyft and ride share fees
  • Allocation plans for Federal Stimulus funds
  • Spending plans that are heavy on accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, address climate change and emissions, invest in multi-modal options, and spend on state and local roads and highways.

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Colorado Economic Recovery and Your Commute

March 12, 2021

The Governor and legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle presented a $700 million State Economic Stimulus package this week.  Much of the plan included elements announced in December including $170M in infrastructure spending.  Here are some key investments affecting your business:

Support Small Business Restaurant Sales Tax Relief:  Allows restaurants to retain any sales tax collected for reinvestment in their business, Incentives for tourism including a 10% credit against costs for hosting conferences and events

Infrastructure:  $170M towards shovel ready projects including repairs to I-70 Eisenhower Tunnel and rural safety projects, Improvements to state parks, Funding for state Colorado water project

Supporting Colorado Families:  Funding for new child care facilities to meet needs for quality child care

Investing in Rural Colorado:  Additional funding toward the Rural Jump Start program to incentivize job creation in rural Colorado, Competitive grants for rural agriculture infrastructure investment, including processing plants, storage, and distribution, to help diversify the supply chain, Wildfire Recovery and Risk Mitigation Grants to support shovel-ready forest restoration projects to protect communities, property and infrastructure, Watershed Restoration Grant funds to protect and preserve Colorado watersheds and defend against wildfire.

State Mandated Employee Trip Reduction Program in Motion
The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is in the process of passing a regulatory measure to require companies with 100 or more employees to reduce their employees work related travel through mandated driving behavior modifications. The Employee Trip Reduction Program, driven by 2019 legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Colorado and the recently released far-reaching GHG Reduction Roadmap, calls for blunt solutions including requiring employers to develop a plan to reduce employee travel by 25% in early period, growing in time.  Measures to reduce travel include telecommuting, public transit, ridesharing or other means the meet employers specific capabilities and business needs.

The NCLA is actively engaged in these discussions as this type of mandate on employers isn’t a solution that seems to meet the needs of our businesses and economic recovery.   There are a number of opportunities to share your thoughts, ask question and engage.   We encourage you to join us at the CDPHE Listening Sessions this month.

NCLA Tracking Report
On a bi-weekly basis, the NCLA Board reviews and considers its position on pending legislation.  See the NCLA 2021 Legislative Tracking Report for a listing the measures thus far introduced that the NCLA is monitoring and upon which the NCLA will take a position.

NCLA Takes Positions on Measure Affecting Business

March 5, 2021 

On a bi-weekly basis, the NCLA Board reviews and considers its position on pending legislation. The NCLA board took positions on the following measures during our last board meeting. See the NCLA 2021 Legislative Tracking Report for a listing the measures thus far introduced that the NCLA is monitoring and upon which the NCLA will take a position.

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NCLA Legislative Process Endures Virtually

February 26, 2021 

The General Assembly’s 2nd week back to work continued with virtual committee meetings, presentations on transportation funding, health care, and broadband expansion.  As we emerge slowly from the grips of COVID the legislative process is adapting.  The requirement for the business community voices to be heard becomes challenging but through the historical relationships and effectiveness of the NCLA we are happy to be included in important discussions.

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2021 Legislative Session Underway

February 19, 2021 

The 2021 Legislative Session reconvened this week with legislative leaders and the Governor outlining their goals, agendas, and objectives for what will be a fast-paced, jam-packed session. The NCLA will continue to be a voice at the table on all issues that affect business. With over 250 bills introduced as of today, we have a full plate of legislation to influence. We will play a fair amount of defense given majority agenda and we will be strategic and laser-focused on our efforts’ best use. We see avenues for creating wedges during these unprecedented times within the majority.

As we recover from the pandemic and emerge from the COVID19 economic impacts, destructive wildfires, social reform initiatives, and the focus on climate change, there are ample opportunities for our business community voices to influence our policy outlook. We look forward to having NCLA as your advocate, your voice in the political discussions.

Below, an overview of the key priorities related to business that legislative leaders and the Governor laid out in their opening day speeches and State of the State address, respectively.

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NCLA Positions on Key 2020 Colorado Ballot Initiatives

Prop 118, Prop 113, and Ref B

The NCLA Board of Directors, in deliberation and agreement with the boards of Directors of the Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley Chambers of Commerce, Upstate Colorado and One NoCo Economic Development recommends positions on three key and critical pending ballot questions on the 2020 Ballot.  We strongly urge Northern Colorado business leaders, employees and community members to take into account our thoughtful consideration and positions on Proposition 118, Proposition 113 and Referendum B.

Proposition 118 – Paid Family and Medical Leave Program: VOTE NO
Proposition 113 – National Popular Vote: VOTE NO
Referendum B – Repeal Gallagher Amendment : VOTE YES

The NCLA encourages review of the 2020 State Ballot Information Bookletalso known as the “Blue Book”, for proponent and opponent positions on each of the state ballot initiatives.  Below are the reasons for the NCLA positions on three of ballot questions before voters this year.

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2020 Legislative Session Underway

January 14, 2020

The 2020 Legislative Session got underway last week with legislative leaders and the Governor outlining their goals, agendas and objectives for the 120-day policy making session.  The NCLA will be a vigilant presence and loud voice as a myriad of measures affecting the northern Colorado business community take center stage.  From employee-employer relations, health care issues to climate, environment and oil and gas measures, NCLA is your advocate, your voice in the political fray.

Below, an overview of the key priorities related to business that legislative leaders and the Governor laid out in their opening day speeches and State of the State address, respectively.

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NCLA Secures Important Wins 2019 Legislative Session still proving challenging for business climate

April 8, 2019

The NCLA secured a couple of important legislative victories last week in the oil and gas debate and in funding transportation.  However, despite the wins, looming proposals in other areas affecting business remain ominous.  Below an overview of the status of key issues in which the NCLA is engaged:

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Business bears brunt of Polis tax plan
February 4, 2019

Governor Jared Polis continues to unveil details of his campaign pledges.  This week, income tax cuts.  Early details, however, leave business bearing the burden of the floated tax cuts.  Meanwhile, legislative Democrats are pushing back against Polis’ across-the-board income tax reduction arguing for targeted tax credits that directly benefit the middle class and poor, setting the stage for a worse-case scenario for business.  Learn more in this week’s Under the Dome.

Follow NCLA’s legislative agenda through our NCLA Tracking Report.


Many Developments Last Week – Here’s A Run Down
January 21, 2019

Only a couple weeks into the new legislative session and the new Administration of Governor Jared Polis, and many developments unfolded last week to set the stage for the agenda this session.  In this week’s Under the Dome, the Speaker of the House floats a TABOR question to keep surplus state revenues, the Colorado Energy Office Director tells legislative leaders he intends to be an active proponent of Zero Emissions policies, the Governor announced his first Executive Order on electric vehicles policy, the oil and gas industry experienced a short-lived legal victory in the Colorado Supreme Court, and finally, Governor Polis offered is suggested state budget only to be met with resistance from fellow Democrats on the powerful Joint Budget Committee.

Read more.

To follow key issues, tap into our 2019 Legislative Tracking Report.


Colorado Kicks Off Its Policy Making Season
January 14, 2019

A compilation of the issues highlighted by Governor Jared Polis and Speaker of the House KC Becker

Colorado’s Legislative and Executive Branch kicked off their respective policy and decision-making season with the drop of the gavel at the General Assembly and the Inauguration of Governor Jared Polis.   Holding a “Trifecta” and more of power, Democrats wield historic influence in shaping Colorado’s public policy landscape.   In this week’s Under the Dome,a compilation of the key issues and agenda items noted by Governor Polis in his first State of the State address.  Weaved throughout, thoughts on the same issues by newly minted Speaker of the House KC Becker (D-Boulder) from her opening day remarks.

To follow key issues, tap into our 2019 Legislative Tracking Report.


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2018 Mid-Term Election Debrief: Colorado Landscape Turns Blue Yet Fiscally Conservative
November 12, 2018

Last week, the political landscape in Colorado changed dramatically. Today, the transition of power has begun with Governor-Elect Jared Polis announcing his formal Transition Team, Boldly Forward, as they seek volunteers to participate in the transition process that will occur over the course of the next 10 weeks before Inauguration Day on January 8, 2019.

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2018 Legislative Session: The Debrief
June 1, 2018 

Transportation, energy, water, health care, workforce and the business climate. NCLA found measured success on all of the key issues important to the northern Colorado business community during the 2018 legislative session.

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Transportation Funding Awaits The House and New Labor Bills Introduced
April 17, 2018 

30 Days to Go

With 30 days left in the Colorado legislature, there are several outstanding issues yet to be resolved and more measures introduced affecting business.

Last week, the nearly $30 billion state budget was approved providing new resources to education, higher education, transportation, and other state priorities.  Meanwhile transportation  funding, PERA reform, renewal of the energy office await action in their second house.

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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…

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

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…

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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…

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With half of the Session Over, Contentious Issues Still on Tap

The 2015 legislative session has reached the halfway point and various contentious issues are still looming in a session that has, thus far, been relatively calm for business.

The 2015 Colorado Legislature is a split body with Republicans holding a one-vote majority in the Senate and Democrats holding a slim 2-vote majority in the House. The tenor at the outset of the session was one of collaboration, but the first 60-days have had an underpinning of partisan and messaging issues…

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Oil and Gas Fracking Recommendations Made to Mixed Response Setting Stage for Battle at Legislature and Ballot Box

Last fall, the threat of ballot initiatives which endangered the oil and gas industry in Colorado prompted Governor John Hickenlooper to cut a deal which resulted in the formation of an Oil and Gas Task Force charged with finding common ground on policies that would resolve the tension between anti-fracking activists and the industry. Last week, the Task Force reported its recommendations to the Governor. The recommendations were received with a mix of reaction from both sides of the issue and the aisle leaving a strong likelihood of 2016 ballot question despite the attempts to avert such an outcome…

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NCLA Board Weighs in on Construction Defects and Affordable Housing

On the heels of the introduction of a proposal aimed at making the construction of affordable housing more viable, the NCLA Board of Directors to a position last week to support the effort and to make the issue among its priority issues. Senate Bill 15-177 proposes to make changes to current law regarding construction defects in hopes of easing legal burdens that proponents argue have hindered the construction of condominiums and other affordable housing units due to concerns of liability…

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Compensation for Mineral Owners Take Steps Forward

The Colorado Senate isn’t awaiting recommendations from the Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force before moving solutions to the fracking battle forward. This week the Senate approved a measure to compensate mineral owners for the lost value of their mineral rights in communities that ban fracking…

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Hickenlooper Oil and Gas Panel Floats 57 Ideas and the GOP Reverses Pre-Majority Democrat Initiatives

After months of hearings, the Governor’s oil and gas task force is winnowing ideas to address concerns about drilling in Colorado. The recommendations to the Governor and to the Legislature are due by February 27th setting the stage for vibrant debate in March on the volatile issue.

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Health Care Exchange to Undergo Scrutiny

The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange is a step closer to undergoing additional scrutiny with the passage of a pair of legislative proposals last week.   The health benefit exchange, doing business with Colorado consumers under the name Connect for Health, is the state-compliant exchange under Obamacare and has been the subject of criticism for high costs and logistical issues with the consumer interface….

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NCLA Board Meets with Northern Colorado Legislators and Engages in First Bills on Legislative Agenda

The NCLA Board of Directors made its way to the State Capitol to meet with members of the northern Colorado Legislative delegation last week about NCLA’s legislative agenda for 2015. The conversation focused upon funding of the north I-25 corridor, business personal property tax, water infrastructure, and general business issues….

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Hickenlooper Begins Second Term with Details on Agenda

As Governor John Hickenlooper began his second term as Governor, he outlined an agenda for more economic growth, investment in Colorado’s transportation system, the building and connecting of statewide bike trail system and recognition of the fiscal policy challenges facing the state during his Inaugural Speech and State of the State address.

The Governor highlighted a number of the economic successes of his prior term including a reduction in the unemployment rate, attracting key employers and increasing its emergency reserve from 2% to 6.5% of the budget.  “Colorado is no longer in a precarious state,” Hickenlooper declared in his inaugural…

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2015 Legislative Session Underway with New Dynamic at Play

The 2015 Legislative Session got underway last week to the traditional pomp and circumstance.   2015 also ushered in a dramatically different political dynamic for the business community than experienced the last couple of years.   The 70th General Assembly will be governed by a split majority between the State House of Representatives and the State Senate.

The 2014 election generated a new Republican majority in the Colorado Senate after 10 years of Democrat control.  The narrow 18-17 majority means a new President of the Senate and new committee chairs.    Former Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) was elected President of the Senate.  Cadman and newly elected Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel (R-Douglas County) appointed new…

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Quiet, Compromise and a Few Gains Permeated 2014 Session

For business, the 2014 Legislative Session presented itself as a year of relative quiet, unnecessary compromise, and some economic development gains.

2014 was the second year of a Democrat-controlled Colorado legislature.  2014, however, presented a wholly different political landscape for the Democrat majority.  A majority that was bruised by recall elections and a narrowing of the Senate majority margin to one-vote.  The result?  A more strategic and purposeful majority whose eyes were on the November elections and on maintaining and growing their vote margins.

From flood recovery, energy, and transportation funding to tax policy, labor, and economic development, the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, meanwhile, actively engaged on those critical issues upon which the legislature deliberated for 120-days.  Below, we’ve provided a summary of key issues and policies which defined the 2014 Legislative Session for the NCLA.

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4.28.2014 Another Step in BPPT Relief; Stage Set for More Reform

Business Personal Property Tax (BPPT) is arguably the most onerous tax on business.  A continual tax on investment in business capital, it dissuades significant capital investment and puts Colorado at a disadvantage in attracting, retaining and growing capital intensive business and industries, including advanced manufacturing, technology, agriculture among others.  NCLA continues to lead the discussion and the solutions on BPPT.  This week, two bills passed the legislature and set the stage for more comprehensive reform next year.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn more about business personal property tax bills in which NCLA will engage on northern Colorado business community’s behalf.

Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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4.21.2014 Significant Bills Introduced in last two weeks of session

The other shoes have dropped.  For several months during the 2014 legislative session, business has been lulled into believing we might spared from several anticipated onerous legislative proposals.  This past week, several bills with potential bearing on Colorado’s businesses were introduced with only two and half weeks of time left in the 120-day session.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn more about bills just introduced in which NCLA will engage on northern Colorado business community’s behalf.

Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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4.14.14 NCLA Leads On More Business Personal Property Tax Relief

Business personal property tax has the notable distinction of being the most onerous tax Colorado imposes upon its taxpayers.  Most public policy makers acknowledge the fact.   However, repealing the tax outright has been an impossible feat.  While NCLA continues to consider a comprehensive solution, this legislative session, the NCLA continues its leadership on providing relief for small and capital intensive businesses. In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn more about NCLA efforts on business personal property tax relief.

Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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4.7.2014 Modernization of Telecommunications Laws Takes Center Stage

NCLA Board of Directors Votes to Support Reform Package 

A lot has changed in the world of telecommunications and Internet technology since 1987.  The one thing that hasn’t are the state laws that regulate the telecommunications industry.  Last week, the House Business Affairs and Labor passed a package of legislative proposals that seek to update the telecommunications laws to reflect today’s modern technology.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn more about the politics and details surrounding the effort to bring Colorado law into the modern age.

Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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3.30.2014 Fracking Bans To Cost Jobs and the Health Care Exchange won’t be audited

93,000 jobs, $12 Billion in gross domestic product, and $985 Million in state and local revenues would be lost if proposed bans on hydraulic fracturing in Colorado become law, according to a new economic study by the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business.  Meanwhile, despite receiving a near-unanimous vote in the State House of Representatives and ongoing questions of its expenditures, a Senate committee killed a measure to ensure a comprehensive audit of Colorado’s Health Care Exchange, Connect for Health Colorado.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, understand the economic analysis of statewide fracking bans and how a bill to audit Connect for Health Colorado could be defeated despite strong support in the House.

Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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3.24.2014 State Revenue Forecast Bright, But Too Bright?

This past week, state economists issued their highly anticipated quarterly economic forecast.  The news was good.  $12.21 B anticipated for 2014 – 15 fiscal year.  $133M more than that projected in December’s forecast.   But the good news may have TABOR consequences if they the projections become a reality.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn why the state budget forecast might be too bright.  And, hear about NCLA’s support of state highway funding.

Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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3.17.2014 At Midway Point, Business Awaiting “Other Shoe to Drop”

Compared to the 2013 Legislative session, so far the 2014 legislative session has been quite tame for business.  But, rumors abound about legislation still anticipated but not yet introduced.     Coupled with bills tackling major reform in telecommunications, April could prove to be a restless month for business.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, get up to speed on what the next 60 days hold for the business community.

Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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3.10.2014 Business Community Supports all Funding Options for I-25 Highway Expansion

A third lane from Highway 66 north of Longmont to Highway 14 in Fort Collins is one of the highest transportation funding priorities for the northern Colorado business community.  Under traditional funding scenarios, the $1.2 Billion project is projected to be completed in 75 years.    Given this timeline, the NCLA supports, and will lead in collaboration with our elected officials, the pursuit of any and all funding options to expedite funding of this critical corridor.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn the education proposal, who’s in and who’s out of the CD4 race and what the future holds for angel investors.   Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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3.3.214 DelGrosso Spearheads Bi-Partisan Education Proposal  while the 4th CD is shaken up by Gardner Announcement

The resounding defeat this past November of Amendment 66, the $1 Billion education reform and funding ballot initiative, left proponents and opponents with a conundrum.  Both agreed that policy changes and reforms were necessary but raising taxes to fund the program was not an option for voters or for Republicans.  Newly-elected Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) committed early on in his leadership that education reform was a priority and doing it within current revenues could be accomplished.   This week, the Student Success Act was introduced.

Also this week, the 4th Congressional District was shaken up with the announcement that Congressman Cory Gardner would seek the US Senate as other scramble to position for the post.  Meanwhile, NCLA supported a bill to incent angel investment in Colorado’s start up entreprenuers.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn the education proposal, who’s in and who’s out of the CD4 race and what the future holds for angel investors.   Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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2.17.2014 Transportation Funding Debate Takes Center Stage

This week, the funding transportation for for significant highway improvement and repair projects took center state.  A plan for the Boulder Turnpike came under fire by the legislature prompting questions over the funding options being considered for the state’s other large highway expansions, including the expansion of I-25 between Longmont and US Highway 14 in Fort Collins.   Meanwhile, Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, proposes to tackle the funding shortfalls with a cash allocation.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn more the Public Private Partnerships that have the legislature abuzz and the proposal by DelGrosso to address transportation in a more traditional way.   Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to

NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.

The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the

NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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2.10.2014 NCLA Maintains its Opposition to Wage Theft Proposal

Labor groups have lined up to push legislation again this year to respond to what they say is a vast problem for Colorado’s employees, wage theft or a failure by employers to pay wages.    As introduced, the legislation, Senate Bill 14-005 by Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D-Commerce City) and Representative Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont) created untenable thresholds and requirements upon employers to address a problem the Department of Labor proves is minimal.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn more about NCLA’s decision to maintain its opposition to the proposal despite efforts to assuage some in the business community.  Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to

NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.   The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the

NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.


2.3.2014 NCLA Testifies on Key Infrastructure measure and Pushes Back On Labor Proposal

The passage of the legalization of marijuana in 2012, on top of the expansion of medical marijuana in Colorado, left employers with many questions about their legal authority to have and enforce drug-use related workplace policies.   Decisions by Colorado Courts have favored employer rights.  But, that could change.

In this week’s NCLA Under the Dome, learn more about a recent decision of the Colorado Supreme Court and what it could mean to Colorado employers.  Keep track of introduced legislation and the NCLA’s position on bills by linking to

NCLA’s 2014 Legislative Tracking Report.

The NCLA Board of Directors engages in legislation that intersects with the

NCLA’s 2014 Priority Legislative Agenda.

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1.27.2014 NCLA Testifies on Key Infrastructure Proposal

“Quickly rebuilding the road infrastructure in the northern Colorado region was critical to getting our vibrant economy back on track after the devastating floods,” testified Sandra Hagen Solin, NCLA Issues Manager, last week in support of SB 14-007, a proposal which allows counties to transfer their general fund moneys into their County Road and Bridge funds after a declared disaster emergency.   The Senate Local Government Committee, which includes Northern Colorado Senators John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins) and Vicki Marble (R-Windsor), passed the bill co-prime sponsored by Senator Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) on a unanimous vote.  The bill was passed by the full Senate on a unanimous vote later in the week.

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1.21.2014 NCLA Board Jumps into 2014 Session with First Positions on Legislative Proposals

For 22 years, the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance Board of Directors has convened twice per month during the 120-day legislative session to review, debate, consider and take official positions upon the multitude of legislative proposals pending before the state legislature. Last week, the NCLA Board jumped right into their role yet again and began to take positions on various bills thus far introduced.

The NCLA Board is encompassed of representatives from the broad spectrum of industry sectors found in northern Colorado and represent small, medium and large businesses to assure a well rounded debate and discussion of issues. A tenet of being a board member is a commitment to consider the general business interests when sitting at the NCLA board table and resist injecting any individual business agenda into the discussion.

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1.13.2014 Legislative session Opens with Northern Colorado Featured

Northern Colorado featured prominently in the opening day remarks by legislative leaders and the Governor during the first days of the opening of the 2014 Legislative Session.   Each of the leaders, from President of the Senate Morgan Carroll and Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino to Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman and House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, highlighted the devastating flood as an example of the strength and resolve of Coloradoans and of how Colorado came together to assist neighbors.

In addition to remarks about the flood, the opening sessions brought about the usual pomp and circumstance but cracks in the customary call for bi-partisan collaboration were evident in each of the remarks.  Below is a brief summary of key tenets of the speeches by each leader.   Copies of the entire speeches by the leaders are provided by hotlink on the Leaders’ name.

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2013 Legislative Session:

The Debrief

It was a legislative session unique among most.   And it was a legislative session marked by numerous controversial issues – more in one session than experienced in memory.  Gun control, civil unions, immigrant liberties, school taxes, renewable energy and marijuana took center stage and hours of debate.

With the election in November 2012, the political landscape shifted from one of a split majority between the House and the Senate to a Statehouse dominated by a Democrat majority in both the House and Senate along with a Democrat Governor on the first floor.   The landscape shift resulted in a shift in the political dynamic under the dome such that issues of importance to the Democrat majority were assumed to be successful.  Republicans played the role of vocal minority well by demanding their voices were heard and that the majority justify their headline-making public policy proposals.

While the controversial issues were making headlines, the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance was diligently fending off onerous legislative measures offending business interests.      Sadly, the job was incessant as the NCLA contended with numerous measures that threatened the employer-employee relationship, increased business and employer liabilities, assailed the oil and gas industry, and increased the overall cost of business.

In the end, the NCLA, working in coalition with other business and industry organizations throughout the state, defeated several of the measures and secured important amendments to the remaining measures to mitigate their potential negative consequences to business, industry and our economic climate.   Below we highlight a few of these measures.

Although we can claim success in mitigating harm from some of most onerous legislative proposals, sadly, there were a few proposals in which negotiations or calls for defeat went unanswered.  House Bill 13-1136 and Senate Bill 13-252 are among the few that will increase the cost of business and liabilities.    See below for more details about HB 1136 and SB 252.

While onerous proposals overshadowed positive and new public policy proposals that benefit Colorado’s economic climate, the NCLA led an important economic development retention effort.   Significant energy is made in economic development circles to attract new businesses to relocate to Colorado.  NCLA focused its proactive energies on House Bill 13-1206 and on retaining existing primary employers by providing local governments the opportunity to reduce business personal property tax liability for primary employers at significant risk of leaving Colorado.

HB 13-1206 was prime sponsored by Loveland Republican Representative Brian DelGrosso and Senator Mark Scheffel (R-Douglas County) and was co-sponsored by nearly all of the Northern Colorado legislative delegation among a large contingent of bi-partisan legislators and legislative leaders.  The bill will be signed by the Governor in the coming weeks.

Finally, while not the most pleasant of topics, upon the passage of Amendment 64, the NCLA took the lead on behalf of the Colorado business community to protect business and employer interests during the implementation of the legalization of marijuana.     NCLA assured that all employers have the right to continue to impose and enforce whatever drug policies they deem most appropriate, and further, have the right to prohibit use of marijuana when not on the job.    Additionally, NCLA assured that property owners have the right to impose prohibitions and other rules around the use of marijuana while on the owners’ property.

A Debrief – In More Detail

Oil and Gas

Eleven oil and gas bills were introduced during the 2013 legislative session.  Bills ran the gamut from increasing impact fees on the industry, changing the purpose and make up of the industry oversight board, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and enhancing reporting requirements for spills and other environmental infractions.  In the end, all but reporting requirements were defeated.  The defeat of the measures further bolstered proponents and we expect the issues to be renewed in 2014.

Employer-Employee Relationship and Liabilities

Several bills interfering with the employer-employee relationship were introduced and debated in 2013.  Chief among them was House Bill 13-1136 by Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) and Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) which drew all business into the federal civil discrimination protections as well as expanded the liability to encompass new compensatory and punitive damages.  The bill was passed by legislature and recently was signed by the Governor despite the loud objections of the NCLA and the business community in Colorado.

Also debated was HB 1222 which proposed to extend the benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act beyond care for spouses and children to encompass extended family and domestic partnerships.  In response to business objections, the sponsor agreed to rein in the scope of the bill to only encompass domestic partners.

Finally, under the title “Keep Jobs in Colorado Act”, HB 1292 captured numerous provisions advocated by the AFL-CIO, Colorado’s chief union lobby, which shifted long-standing procurement processes to allow for “best-value” contracting while also imposing accountability and limitations on the performance of contract obligations by labor based in Colorado.  Bill sponsors and legislative leadership were committed to passing the bill but were receptive to modifications to the bill to assure prohibitions within contracting provisions were shifted to transparency efforts.  The bill passed and will be signed by the Governor.

Labor Relations

Under significant pressure from the Colorado business community, including the NCLA, House Bill 13-1304 was killed by the sponsor of the legislation.  HB 1304 proposed to extend unemployment benefits for employees and union members who are drawn into a defensive union lockout.   The extension of such benefits would have placed significant burden upon the Colorado Unemployment Insurance Benefits Fund, funded solely by Colorado employers.   Expect HB 1304 to be back in 2014.

The precedence setting Senate Bill 13-025, however, was passed by the Colorado legislature and awaits the Governor’s decision.  SB 13-025 establishes a right to collective bargain for firefighters by creating a one-size fits all, state-mandated collective bargaining process offending home-rule and local control authority.  The NCLA joined our local government partners in opposing SB 25 believing that such over-reach could open the door for government imposition of a labor relations process within the private sector.

Renewable Energy

Senate Bill 13-252, opposed by the NCLA, increases from 10 to 20 percent the share of retail electricity sales that must be achieved from renewable energy sources by Cooperative Electric Associations (CEAs) by 2020.  The increase is coupled with a rate impact increase for CEAs from 1 percent to 2 percent.  The legislation excluded Xcel and municipal electricity providers to the dismay of the CEAs, including Poudre Valley REA and United Power.  NCLA, along with Poudre Valley and United Power lobbied actively to defeat the measure.  The bill passed the House and Senate on a party line vote and awaits a decision by the Governor.  NCLA has asked for his veto of the bill anticipated to raise costs for all businesses served by our local co-ops.


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