Improving Colorado’s ailing transportation infrastructure is one of the most urgent issues facing this legislature. Commute times have drastically increased along the Front Range, and the condition of vital roadways and bridges have greatly deteriorated across the state. As transportation is a core government function, the legislature must act to increase funding. However, while the legislature is in agreement that more funding is needed, the source of that revenue remains a fervent debate. The answer is simple – transportation funding is a top priority and should first come from existing state
Last session, the legislature passed a $27.1 billion state budget. The governor has proposed a $28.5 billion budget for this coming fiscal year. Yet, despite over a billion dollars more in proposed spending, many legislators are calling for significant tax increases to address Colorado’s infrastructure needs. It’s important to note that since 2009, Colorado’s General Fund has grown by more than 54 percent, approximately $3.7 billon. In those eight years, the legislature has directed general fund revenue to transportation only once, 2016, and it was a meager 1.5 percent.
With so little of Colorado’s current tax revenue going to transportation, legislators should be looking inward and discussing better ways to prioritize existing revenue. One option is a bill that I am sponsoring with Representative Perry Buck, which would raise $3.5 billion through a transportation bond. House Bill 1171, if approved by the voters in November, would
direct 10 percent of state sales tax to service the bond over 20 years. The $3.5 billion would fund statewide transportation priority projects, and as the sales tax would increase with population, the revenue above the bond service would be available for road maintenance.
House Bill 1171 gives Colorado the opportunity to start on projects throughout the state, not only saving inflationary costs, but also providing critical relief to many congested and or unreliable roadways. Most importantly, this legislation permits transportation projects to move forward while forcing the legislature to work within its means and exercise greater fiscal responsibility with the taxpayers’ money. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and you can keep up with all of our caucus updates by
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Colorado state lawmakers are putting extra effort into their campaign to wipe out the scourge of human trafficking for the sex trade. House Bill 1072, sponsored by Republican Reps. Lois Landgraf of Colorado Springs and Polly Lawrence of Roxborough Park, passed the House Judiciary Committee unanimously on Thursday, March 16. The legislation would tighten current law against human trafficking in several ways, it adds to the definition of human trafficking for sexual servitude the act of purchasing another person for the purpose of coercing him or her to engage in commercial sexual activity; It adds that same change to the definition of human trafficking of a minor; It adds human trafficking for sexual servitude to the definition of "unlawful sexual behavior," requiring those convicted to become part of the sexual-offender registry. Under current law, only those convicted of human trafficking of a minor are included in that definition and thus must register. ("crackdown on human trafficking moves forward in the Colorado House," Colorado Politics, 02/17/17)
Gov. John Hickenlooper is threatening to veto legislation that would allow local governments to extend bar hours past 2 a.m. In a letter Wednesday, March 15, to House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, and Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, Hickenlooper said he is “unpersuaded that extending alcohol service hours will enhance public safety or lead to less intoxicated driving.” ("Gov. Hickenlooper threatens to veto legislation extending bar closing hours," Colorado Politics, 03/16/17)
A legislative committee once again killed a bill Wednesday, March 15, aimed at turning Colorado into a “right-to-work” state, keeping the state’s unique Labor Peace Act in place for at least one more year. Senate Bill 55, sponsored by Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, would have made it illegal for any Colorado company to mandate union membership as a requirement of employment. ("Colorado legislative committee ends efforts to create right-to-work state," Denver Business Journal, 03/15/17)
Senate committee approved a bill Tuesday, March 14, to modernize Colorado’s Open Records Act and left intact a Republican amendment to have it apply to the judiciary, which courts have determined is not covered by the act. That decision by the Appropriations Committee could jeopardize the bill’s chances of passing. Both the judicial branch and majority House Democrats oppose expanding the act to cover the judicial branch, which has its own rules for public disclosure. They say the amendment complicates a bill designed to expedite records requests, not to change the rules for which types of records can be disclosed. ("Colorado public records bill heads to Senate for debate," Associated Press, 03/14/17)