State Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, will present a proposal today that could potentially save the state more than $3 million a year by simply barring improper personal use of state-owned vehicles for commuting. The bill has bipartisan and co-sponsorship from all members of the Joint Budget Committee.

There are currently 1,007 persons enrolled in the state commuter program.

According to Lambert, there have been three separate audits which have pointed out the practices in the commuting program that are less than satisfactory and found missing and improper usage of state-owned vehicles.

Lambert’s House Bill 1287 would generally limit the use of state-owned motor vehicles to official state business and establish a penalty for employees who abuse their use of the vehicles.

This bill would increase transparency and oversight of the use of state-owned motor vehicles and ensure that such vehicles used for commuting are managed in a fair, responsible, and economical manner, Lambert said.

Lambert’s proposal would require the state to collect reimbursement from employees who are using their vehicles for personal commuting.
An exception from reimbursement is made for law enforcement officers in marked police vehicles.

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The bill also requires state agencies to submit a detailed annual report about commuting within their department to the Division of Central Services.

Nine states in the last 18 months have reviewed their commuting practices and have introduced bills similar to Lambert’s proposal in order to crack down on employees using government vehicles for personal use.

Taxpayers should not pay for free rides for state workers to and from work that is not part of their normal job, Lambert said.

When people commute it is a fringe benefit to them that should be reimbursed. Actual vehicle operating costs and reimbursements for commuting must be reported accurately to ensure appropriate oversight of state assets, preparation of the state budget, and compliance with federal and state laws.

HB 1287 will be heard by the Finance Committee on Wednesday, April 14, upon adjournment at the Legislative Services Building in room A .

– Associated Press