CAHB LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
2020 General Assembly Wrap-Up
The Colorado General Assembly adjourned on Monday, June 15th after returning on May 26 to address unfinished business, including the state budget. The typical 120-day session only lasted 84 legislative days but spanned 160 days with a long pandemic recess and a two-day break caused by protests around the capitol.
The legislature’s primary task was to finalize the state budget and the school finance act. Legislators had to address a $3.3 billion shortfall, including a current year shortfall of $895.8 million and a 2020-21 fiscal year shortfall of $2.42 billion. The budget contraction for this downturn is expected to be twice the Great Recession (a -5.6 percent reduction versus a -2.5 percent reduction in 2009). Much of the budget reductions will be felt hardest by school districts, higher education and transportation.
The CAHB Government Affairs Committee took positions on 24 bills and reviewed dozens more. This update includes three bills that were killed that would have been significantly detrimental to home-building across Colorado.
Unemployment Insurance Was introduced to align the unemployment insurance workshare program with federal rules during the COVID crisis and to allow for benefits to employees unable to return to work due to health issues. It was then amended in the House to try to shore up the fund by increasing the wage base (the amount of wages on which UI premiums are calculated) from $13,600 in 2021 to $17,000 in 2022 and increasing annually to $30,600 in 2026 and indexed in future years. This will result in much larger UI premiums for employers but will bring the fund into actuarial solvency in future years.
In addition, two issues critical to the home building industry were close to having legislation introduced during the session. Several legislators, possibly in response to the Denver Post’s reporting series, were preparing legislation on metro districts. That legislation was not introduced due to the COVID-19 recess, but the CAHB expects legislation on special districts during the next session.
CAHB worked through the Colorado Water Congress and with construction-industry partners to help stop introduction of dredge and fill legislation developed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The legislation would have created a permitting process for dredging and filling in state waters and was a reaction to new federal laws that will go into effect this summer as a replacement to WOTUS. CAHB will work with AGC of Colorado and the Colorado Contractors Association to work with CDPHE to address concerns on this issue.
November 2020 Ballot
The General Assembly also referred two measures to the November 2020 ballot, both with bipartisan support. The first referred measure will repeal constitutional provisions set in the Gallagher Amendment on the ratio of valuation for assessment for residential property and nonresidential property for property taxes. The second referred ballot measure is a tax on tobacco, nicotine and vaping products to help fund preschool and education programs and tobacco-cessation efforts.
The CAHB Government Affairs Committee did not take a position on these referred measures but will likely review these and the many initiatives currently on the ballot or in signature collection over the summer. All initiative signatures are due by the first week of August, and the state’s ballot will be set by September 5.
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