As the General Assembly moves just past its halfway mark for the 2017 session, it’s time to look at the bills that still have a chance to affect the way Colorado Springs companies do business.
With state government divided between parties, few bills have made it through the legislature to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk.
Regional Transportation Authority
House Bill 1018 extends the authority of local regional transportation authorities — like the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments — to seek voter approval for a mill levy on taxable property within the boundaries of the transportation authority.
Current law already allows regional transportation authorities the ability to levy taxes with voter approval, but that authority is set to expire in 2019. With the governor’s signature, that authorization is extended until 2029.
Licensing requirement for marijuana
HB 1034 creates a medical marijuana license that corresponds to the license requirements for retail marijuana business operations.
The law allows licensed medical marijuana businesses to move the company anywhere in the state with approval of both the state and local jurisdictions — just like retail establishments can relocate.
Additionally, if tests for retail marijuana find toxic substances, business owners can try to fix the problem if there is a microbial presence. If they can’t, then the product must be destroyed. The new law extends the remediation to medical marijuana as well.
Music and retail businesses
HB 1092 changes contracts between restaurants and bars and performing artists. The bill, which has been sent to the governor, allows businesses three days to rescind a contract with a performer and prohibits charging for performances that are already licensed. A performing rights society must file with the secretary of state any schedule of fees it charges to license music, to provide information about a proprietor’s rights and duties under the contract and must provide a catalog of licensed musical works it can perform.
HB 1148 requires additional information from people who are cultivating hemp on an industrial level. The company must list every “officer, director, member, partner or owner” with at least 10 percent or more interest in the entity. If anyone has received a notice of discipline from the state, the application is denied for three years. If a registration is suspended or revoked, a new registration application can be denied for up to three years. The bill has passed both the House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Still being considered
A bill that requires the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Education to prepare a strategic plan to address teacher shortages is still making its way through the General Assembly.
The bill requires that both departments collaborate with colleges, school districts and other educational interest groups. The goal is to submit the plan to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education by Dec. 1.
The bill has passed committee and has been sent to the full House of Representatives.
College credit for military training
This bill requires the Colorado Commission on Higher Education to create a statewide metric for awarding college credit for military education and training. Starting the 2018-2019 school year, colleges and universities will be able to award credit for military education using this statewide metric.
The bill, which could have a huge impact on hiring veterans in Colorado Springs, is still in committee.
Tax credit for Collegeinvest
This bill, introduced in the House, allows employers to claim a deduction for any amount contributed to an employee’s college trust account or savings account managed by Collegeinvest. The deduction can be claimed even if the contribution has been deducted from federal taxable income. The bill is still in committee.
Advanced industry investment
This bill expands investment in advanced industries in Colorado. Under current law, small business investments can take a maximum tax credit of $50,000 for an individual business. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade determines eligibility for the tax credit and issues certificates used to claim the credit. The maximum amount of credits allowed in a calendar year is $750,000.
The bill extends the credit by allowing qualified investments made on or after Jan. 1, 2018, but before Jan. 2, 2023. It increases the total amount allowed to invest to $1.5 million and expands the definition of a qualified small business to companies with less than $5 million in annual revenue or one that has been in operation less than five years.
The bill has been sent to the House Appropriations Committee.
Longer retail alcohol sales
Current law bans the sale of on-premises alcohol between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. House Bill 1123 allows local governments to extend those hours, as they deem necessary. The bill has passed the House and has been assigned to a committee in the Senate. Hickenlooper has indicated that he might not sign the bill, if it reaches his desk.
Public benefit corporations
Colorado provides special status to public benefit corporations — those businesses that have a social mission as well as a for-profit goal. This bill changes some of the requirements to be considered a b-corporation. It would remove the requirement that a public benefit corporation’s name refer to its status explicitly and instead requires notification to stockholders of its status. The bill has been sent to appropriations.
Special sales tax on retail marijuana
The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that current law doesn’t allow counties to levy and collect a separate sales tax for retail marijuana and marijuana products — something Pueblo County relied on to increase money available for a wide variety of products.
HB 1203 allows both cities and counties to levy, collect and enforce a special sales tax on retail marijuana and its products. Counties can only levy the tax in unincorporated areas, unless the cities don’t levy taxes on retail marijuana. The bill also requires an intergovernmental agreement between counties and cities to allow counties to collect the tax and specifies that voters must approve the tax.
The bill is on its second reading in the House of Representatives.
The construction industry has long wished for a fix to the construction defects law that makes building condominiums more expensive. Under current law, an entire development can be part of a construction defects lawsuit, even if the defect is limited to a single dwelling. In addition, the insurance needed to protect developers and builders makes it too costly to build condominiums — making it more difficult to build affordable housing in the state.
A series of bills is making its way through the General Assembly, designed to address the issues. HB 1270 requires majority approval from a homeowners association before a single owner can file a lawsuit against the development. It also requires that developers and builders meet with homeowners to discuss the issue before the vote.
Another bill changes the definition of a construction defect to “mean a defect in the design or construction of any improvement in real property that causes any damage to, or the loss of, real or personal property or personal injury.” It’s also assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
A third bill in the Senate requires mediation or arbitration before a homeowner can file a construction defect lawsuit. Mediators must be neutral third parties, selected in accordance with state and federal law. The homeowners association also must let unit owners know the cost, duration and financial impact of the lawsuit.
The bill has passed the Senate and is in committee in the House.
End the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange
The Senate is considering a bill that would repeal the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, the marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act to provide federal tax incentives to people who qualify to use the exchange. The repeal would be effective Jan. 1, 2018, but would allow the exchange to remain open for a year to allow people to find alternatives. Any money left after a year would go to the general fund. The bill has been referred to the Appropriations Committee in the Senate.
Business Personal Property Tax
Senate Bill 9 increases the exemption level for business personal property tax at the state level. The exemption now is set to $7,300 — and the bill increases it to $21,900 for the next two years and adjusts it for inflation after that. It’s been referred to the Appropriations Committee in the Senate. A similar bill in the House, which increased the exemption to $50,000, has been postponed indefinitely.