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CLS Announcments, Newsletter and Bill Updates

SESSION HIGHLIGHTS, APR 18-22, 2016

Colorado House Affirms More Oil and Gas Bureaucracy and Regulation

HB16-1430, by Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton) made it off of the floor on a party-line vote this week; Democrats: 34, Republicans: 31.

This bill forces counties to register with the state in order to ask for oil and gas company projections of how many wells they plan to drill over a five-year period.  The bill is masquerading as a good government bill that gives counties the same notice as cities and is yet another in a string of bills aimed at increasing the regulatory burden on the oil and gas industry under the guise of “notice requirements.”   

Governor Hickenlooper’s oil and gas task force examined this issue in addition to The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC) and both independently came to the conclusion that this method of mandated notice outside the areas where consistent conflict exists was superfluous.  Each believe that predicting the potential number of wells over such a long period of time, especially over large geographic areas, would be difficult if not impossible and may in fact lead to unintended consequences related to land use. 

This bill got even heavier with bureaucratic red tape when Rep. Lebsock requested an “opt-in” provision for counties mandating that to obtain the information they would need to register with the state on second reading as an amendment.  That means the COGCC will have to begin and maintain a county registry. It is still possible that local governments will not respond favorably to this amendment once they discover it adds to their need to submit to the state in order to obtain information from the industry. 

The bill now moves to the Senate where it will likely be assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources committee. The business and agriculture associations like Colorado Farm Bureau , The Colorado Competitive Council (C3) and the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce have continued to work together to support the oil and gas industry by opposing this bill. 

Bill to Protect Consumers with HELOCs Finds Senate Support
By another round of unanimous votes in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology committee and on the Senate floor, a bill spearheaded by the Colorado Bankers Association (CBA) moves forward to secure long-term use of home equity lines of credit (HELOC) in Colorado.

Colorado law dealing with HELOCs is unique in that it requires a lien to be released anytime a loan is paid down to a zero balance. HB16-1356, sponsored by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Broomfield), Dan Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs), and Sens. Chris Holbert (R-Parker) and Cheri Jahn (D-Wheatridge) will do away with that stipulation, allowing borrowers to draw repeatedly upon lines of credit, like HELOCs, without the unnecessary hassle and expense of applying for a new loan any time the debt is satisfied.

The bill will be heard on third reading next week. If it passes that hurtle it will be off to the governor’s desk.

House Debates Modifying Regulation of Veterinary Pharmaceuticals  

A bill that began as a requirement to appoint two veterinarians to the State Board of Pharmacy was amended in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee this week before it passed both in that committee and on the floor on second reading.

SB16-062, by Reps. Jon Becker (R-Fort Morgan) and Ed Vigil (D-Fort Garland), now creates the Veterinary Pharmaceutical Advisory Committee within the Department of Regulatory Agencies to hear matters concerning veterinary pharmaceuticals referred by the existing State Board of Pharmacy.

The State Board of Pharmacy licenses, investigates complaints, and enforces disciplinary actions related to pharmacists, pharmacy interns, in-state and nonresident pharmacies, in-state and out-of-state prescription drug wholesalers, satellite pharmacies, specialized prescription drug outlets, other outlets, and limited licenses.  The board currently consists of five licensed pharmacists and two public members. The advisory committee created through SB16-062 will be responsible for taking action on complaints, reviewing applications and rules and making investigations related to veterinary medicines.

After it passes on third reading, the bill will have to return to its chamber of origin, where the senators will vote to adhere to the Senate-version of the bill or concur with the House-version.

County Highway Measure Becomes Law

The bill that would allow counties to retain access control over four lane highways they build became law this week when Governor John Hickenlooper signed it Friday afternoon. 

HB16-1155 precedes a new class of highway, the first of which will be built in Weld County to connect US Highway 34, east of Greeley, to Interstate 76, near Hudson. This highway should help reduce congestion on US 85 and Interstate 25.  The County has reserved about $140 million of their funds to construct this road which is part of the Northern Colorado Transportation plan involving state and local highway improvements. It will follow County Road 49 which is now a two-lane North-South road.  Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016. 

Pictured with the governor (among others) are Weld County Commissioners Barb Kirkmeyer, Steve Moreno, Sean Conway, and Mike Freeman; CLS lobbyists Jim Cole and Zoey DeWolf; and Reps. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat Springs), Lori Saine (R-Firestone), and Steve Humphrey (R-Severance).

Fix in Children’s Code Gets Governor’s Signature

A bill that realigns regulation and rule when dealing with “change of venue” in the Children’s Code also got the signature of Governor Hickenlooper this week.

Although driven by Weld County, HB16-1316 is the product of months of collaboration between attorneys from many Colorado counties who have been seeking a solution for children who are dependent or neglected and living temporarily in a county other than their parents.

The bill amends the Children’s Code so that the best interest of the child is preserved and that counties who may be receiving such cases have the opportunity to respond to a “change of venue.”

 

Zoey DeWolf