Bill Tracker

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This year, the Colorado Springs Business Journal is tracking Colorado’s legislative bills that could affect businesses.

Below is a list of bills, as well as the news stories about the bills. Information is continually updated.

Click here for more information about business issues, and to see what the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce will be keeping an eye on this session.

Colorado General Assembly Home Page

Real Estate

SB-030 Foreclosure sales
Passed both House of Representatives and Senate.
The bill would change some of the administrative issues behind foreclosure sales — including electronic payments to public trustees  – and requires the holder of the debt to identify the loan service of the evidence of debt. Public trustees are also required to include a statement that deadlines to cure the delinquency can be extended. Owners of foreclosed property must receive in person a notice of a Rule 120 hearing. Current law only requires the notice be posted publicly. The bill would also modify foreclosure proceedings for properties that are part of a bankruptcy proceeding, and it shortens the deadline that unclaimed excess proceeds must go to the county treasurer.

SB-071 Loan modification remedies before a foreclosure
Assigned to Judiciary Committee.
This requires a bank or mortgage lender to make certain “good faith” efforts before foreclosing on a property: contact borrowers directly; negotiate in good faith to find a cure for default; fully assess the eligibility of the borrower, property or loan for any available public or private loan modification. Lenders must also communicate with and inform the borrow about impending deadlines and the consequences of missing them at every major step of the foreclosure process. Lenders must also carry the burden of proof in court regarding its compliance with procedural and substantive requirements before authorizing the sale of the property. The state estimates that the new requirements will add three jobs at a cost of $277,907 the first year and $217,658 every year after that.

Banks would foot the bill to buy homeowners more time

HB-1156 Foreclosures
This bill was postponed indefinitely.
Current law allows the holder of evidence of debt in a foreclosure – generally a bank or other financial institution – to foreclosure on real estate even if the holder’s interest is based on an assignment from the original lender. There’s no requirement to produce documents. Foreclosures can, under current law, happen based on a statement from the lender’s attorney.
HB-1156 changes that, and says the burden of proof is on the lender in all cases to determine that they hold the loan and have a right to foreclose. A rule 120 order is not a final judgment adjudicating all rights and claims in the property.
The bill would require lenders to produce the original deed or trust or an affidavit signed by the holder of the evidence of debt.

HB-1211 Title insurance agents
Postponed indefinitely.
This bill requires a title insurance agent doing business in Colorado to maintain a physical office within the state for employees, including the designated responsible insurance provider. An attorney who is licensed to practice law in Colorado and who is also a licensed title insurance agent is exempt from this requirement

SB-141 Mortgage loan qualifications for military

House committee voted to postpone indefinitely.

This bill relaxes residency requirements needed for mortgages when military personnel are deployed for more than 60 days and plan to live in the home once they return from deployment.

Lawyer welcomes bill to clean up foreclosures

Health Care

SB-018 Alternative to Medicaid
This bill has been postponed indefinitely, essentially killed by the committee.
Sponsored by Harvey Lundberg in the Senate – with no House sponsorship – the bill would create a voluntary alternative medical assistance program for the elderly. Participants would agree to receive an amount equal to 70 percent of Medicaid benefits in exchange for two features currently not allowed under state law. Elderly people could choose their own doctor and the state waives the right to pursue payment from people’s estates after they die.
The patient’s doctor determine how much care they will need, and then the state will allocate 70 percent of what Medicaid would normally pay and issue a debit card in that amount. Participants pay for anything above the 70 percent out of their own pockets.
If passed, the alternative would have to be approved by the federal government. There could be significant fiscal impact to the state – last year, the state was able to collect 47 percent of the costs associated with care from the estates of elderly people.

SB-032 Federal Medicaid waiver
This bill has been postponed indefinitely, essentially killed in committee.
The bill asks the Department of health Care Policy and Financing to seek a federal waiver to make the program more flexile and efficient. The waiver will seek authorization to determine eligibility categories and income levels and to establish an asset test for eligibility. It will allow the state to implement cost-sharing and preimums, encourage the use of private health benefits coverage and encourage people to maintain employer-sponsored health insurance. The state could also negotiate for capped federal reimbursements.

SB-053 Repeals the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Act
This bill has been postponed indefinitely, essentially killed in committee.
This bill will repeal Senate Bill 200, which created the health insurance exchanges, marketplaces for consumers to shop for and compare health insurance prices. The bill would repeal the exchanges only if the Affordable Care Act is repealed by the Supreme Court.
The bill’s fiscal note states that Colorado might have to repay grant money from the federal government if the ACA is repealed by the Supreme Court. In 2010, the state received a $1 million grant to begin to create the exchanges.
This bill will increase state expenditures by $179,122 and 1.6 jobs in 2012-13 and at least $203,669 and two jobs in 2013-14. If the waiver is approved, the state is anticipated to increase its share of General Fund used to pay medical services premiums by $49 million in 2013-14 and $2.9 million in 2014-15. These amounts could be offset by any savings achieved as a result of restructuring Medicaid and CHP+.
Health care exchanges challenged in Denver

SB-093 Religious hospitals
This bill has been postponed indefinitely.
Hospitals licensed in Colorado would have to provide notice of any services it does not provide based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. The bill requires the notice to inform patients of their rights to obtain any service not provided by the hospital and notice should be made available prior to the patient’s admission to the hospital.

SB-134 Financial Assistance in Colorado hospitals
Passed the Senate and assigned to Health and Environment Committee in the House.
The bill has three components – it asks Colorado hospitals to provide patients with good information about how they can pay their hospital bills and find assistance. It also contains debt provisions to protect patients from having to make tough financial decisions like choosing between paying their hospital bills and keeping their homes. Finally, it limits  hospital prices and requires them to provide a discount program to qualified patients. They must also provide a payment plan, that is no more than 5 percent of the patients’ income and charges no more than 3 percent interest. No collections can start until a patient’s bill  is 150 days overdue.

HB-1203 – Comprehensive primary care service statutes
This bill has been signed into law.
In the 2011 legislative session, some of the authorizing expenditures from the primary care fund were erroneously repealed. This bill reenacts those statutes, giving the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing the authority to spend money from the fund for grants to community health centers and other providers that have patients who are uninsured, indigent or receive Medicaid or the Children’s basic health plan. Currently, there is $28 million in the fund that can be used for grants for primary care clinics that serve the indigent. That money comes from tobacco taxes, and under state statute is still appropriated to the primary care fund. Re-establishing the rules allows the money to actually be used.

HB 1219 – New fund for bioscience research
Postponed indefinitely.
The bill establishes a new fund to pay for the costs of clinical trials, governmental approval, and product sales of new medical products discovered at the Health Sciences Center at the University of Colorado.

The bill appropriates $10 million to the fund from the general fund.

HB 1257 – Health care insurance

Postponed indefinitely.

The bill requires health insurance companies to tell patients about their relationship with a third party administrator, policy holders and the insurance carrier. They must also disclose all charges, fees and commissions paid to a third party administrator, and prohibit the administrator from altering a health care provider’s charge or adding charges to any of the insurance claims submitted by a health care provider.  Each carrier must disclose any charges for administrative costs that are in addition to charges for care.

Banking and finance

SB-058 Venture Capital Advisory Board
Postponed indefinitely in the House of Representatives.
The bill would create an advisory board to make a report regarding venture capital investment in the state and provide the report to the General Assembly. It could also authorize creating a statewide venture capital fund. The bill was created because there is a critical shortage of seed and venture capital investment in Colorado, which could force start-ups to move to raise capital.

SB-075 Finance cooperative for medical marijuana dispensaries
This bill was postponed indefinitely in committee, essentially killing the bill.
This bill would create a credit union of sorts for the medical marijuana industry. The cooperative would operate under the same rules as a credit union, except it can’t be called a credit union and it won’t be insured by the federal government. However, the financial institution must be insured by an outside insurance firm.

HB 1284 – Small business task force

This bill was postponed indefinitely, essentially killing the bill.

The bill creates a legislative interim committee to study during the 2012 year, issues related to small business financing in Colorado. It requires the committee to meet with small-business lenders and principals of small businesses to determine if there is an unfilled need for capital and loans that discourage business in the state, and to assess whether changes could be made in Colorado laws affecting financing to create more business capital.

HB 1265 – State investments in Colorado securities

This bill has been postponed indefinitely.

The state treasurer must invest at least $25 million of the state’s monies in domestic fixed-income securities issued for the purpose of raising capital for business entities that are incorporated in or have their corporate headquarters in Colorado, so long as the treasurer can do so without violating the state treasurer’s existing duty to preserve the principal.

HB -1251 – Enterprise zone credits

This bill has been postponed indefinitely.

This bill would limit the amount of income tax credit that can be claimed for investments in the enterprise zone to the taxpayer’s actual tax liability that exceeds $5,000 to a maximum of $500,000.

The bill allows a taxpayer to appeal to the Colorado Economic Development Commission for permission to claim a credit in excess of the limit and requires the commission to post information about investment tax credit son its web site. It also requires the commission to provide the Department of Revenue with any information related to credits under the Enterprise Act.

HB 1260 – Investments in enterprise zone

This bill has been postponed indefinitely.

The bill limits the amount of an income tax credit that can be claimed in an income tax year for qualified investments in an enterprise zone.

The limit is the lesser of: the extent such liability does not exceed $5,000, plus 50 percent  of any portion of the tax liability for the income tax year that exceeds $5,000 or  $250,000.

Employment

SB-001 Jobs bill
Passed Senate, assigned to House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
The bill requires state agencies who are bidding contracts worth more than $1 million to give a 3 percent preference to the bidder who can certify that at least 90 percent of the employees who will be working on the contract are residents of Colorado.
Construction contracts offer an extra 1 percent preference if the contractor offers health care and retirement benefits, and another 1 percent if contractors say their workers have access to a federally qualified apprenticeship training program.
Other agencies must also grant businesses an additional 2 percent preference if the service contractor offers health insurance and retirement benefits. the cost would equal $69,255 the first year and $121,509 the second, mainly for extra costs incurred to verify contracts.

On jobs, Colorado legislators move past rhetoric

SB-003 Consumer credit information
Postponed indefinitely by House Committee.
This bill creates the employment opportunity act which says businesses can only check the credit reports of potential employees if the information is necessary for the job. Employers must disclose when it uses the credit information to take adverse actions against an employee. Employees who feel they’re credit information was used in an illegal way can sue the employer. The amended bill exempts the financial services sector and Department of Defense jobs that require security clearances.

SB-004 Preference for U.S. materials
Passed Senate and assigned to House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
This bill creates a preference in state contracting for companies that make sure they are suing materials created in the United States. The bill would grant a 1 percent preference to those companies who are bidding on contracts higher than $1 million. The preference is only allowed if the materials are equal in quality to those manufactured overseas and the materials are available in high enough quantities to do the job. The cost of materials does not exceed the cost of imports by more than 5 percent. If passed, the bill will cost $205,000 the first year and $294,000 the second, mostly due to increased need to verify contracts.

SB-005 Colorado business and retention
Passed Senate.
An effort to retain and grow existing businesses in the state, the bill directs the Colorado Office of Economic Development to develop and administer a program under the statewide economic development plan. The bill would align public and private resources to help retain and expand existing businesses to create job opportunities. It was amended in committee to include nonprofits. Enacting this into law will cost $83,330 and .9 of a full-time equivalent.

SB-076 Transportation contract rules
This bill has been postponed indefinitely, essentially killed in committee.
This bill would prohibit the Department of Transportation from disqualifying a contractor for road and bridge projects based on lack of experience in performing state projects. Contractors who have completed local street or bridge projects would receive the same consideration as those contractors who have experience with state work. The new requirements are expected to cost CDOT $2,130.

HB-1061 Higher education and workforce needs
This bill has been passed into law and signed by the governor.
The Department of Higher Education and the Department of Labor will produce an annual report regarding state workforce projections and education credential production. The report will project workforce needs for the next three yeas and the expected graduates and certifications given for the same time period.

The state already has the resources to prepare the report, and believes no additional people need to be hired to support the bill.

HB-1210 Recognition of out-of-state professionals to practice
This bill was postponed indefinitely in the Senate.
This bill would allow a person with a currently valid license, certificate or registration in good standing from another state to practice in Colorado for a year before the person has to meet the state’s licensing or certification requirements. In order to be eligible, the professional should have no other basis for disqualification from practice other than the lack of a license, certificate or registration.

Business Climate/Economic Development

SB-006 State regulations
This bill has been postponed indefinitely.
The bill requires the committee on legal services to review the state regulatory system.
Basically, the committee will be looking at business regulations to determine if there are anti-competitive or anti-consumer regulations that could be ended. They will also look at the enforcement side of regulations — and make sure that fines are reasonable. The legal committee will check to make sure that regulations are current and that they are not redundant with federal laws and regulations.
The legal committee has a year — until Jan. 1, 2013, to research regulations and make recommendations for repealing or strengthening the regulatory environment.

SB-080 Business fiscal impact
This bill was postponed indefinitely in committee, essentially killing it.
The staff of the legislative council will create a five-day period following the introduction of new legislation or new rules during which Colorado businesses can submit comments about the fiscal impact of the new laws or rules. The staff will prepare a notice of reported business fiscal impacts, which will accompany the bills’ fiscal notes.

HB-1029 Business Personal Property Tax
This bill has been signed into law by the governor.
The bill would end the business personal property tax for any business property purchased in 2013. The decrease would lead to more income tax revenue, because business owners could no longer deduct it from their income tax. Estimates are that, it will bring in $949,000 in 2013 and $2 million in 2014 and 2015. However, school budgets could face a $40 million cut, because they depend on property taxes to operate. The state would have to make up the difference.

HB-1044 Technology transfer grant
Postponed indefinitely in the House.
This bill would create start-up technology transfer grant program. The purpose of the program is to provide grants of up to $750,000 to offices of technology transfer to help move technology projects from the laboratory to the market. The program will receive $5 million during the three-year period.

HB-1154 Regional economic development
Postponed indefinitely in the House.
The Colorado Office of Economic Development would create a regional development partnership in each of the state’s 14 regions. The partnership consists of representatives from that region’s businesses and industries, economic and workforce development entities, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, local governmental bodies and federal, tribal and state regulatory authorities.
The partnership will develop a three-year economic development plan, work to implement the plan and provide annual progress reports to a newly created state regional economic development council. The new statewide council will be made up of one representative form each partnership and the regional development director of the state economic development office.

If passed, the bill will cost $83,333 and .9 of a full time position. The money is included in the state budget bill as part of the Global Business Development Division. That bill, known as the Long Bill, provides 2.8 full time positions and $250,000. If the Long Bill is passed, and fully funded, no additional money is needed for the regional economic development partnership.

SB-143 Local business database

Postponed indefinitely in the House.

This bill directs the Office of Economic Development to create a database of Colorado’s local businesses. Businesses must certify that they are local and pay a filing fee. Access to the database will be free. Fees for the database are expected to bring in $70,000 while operating and maintaining it will cost around $63,000.

SB-144 Economic development strategy for key industries

Passed Senate.

The Office of Economic Development will identify the state’s key industries and create a working group of stakeholders in each industry. The working group will be responsible for devising a strategy to maintain and grow key industries in Colorado.

Tourism

HB -1056 Regional tourism projects
This bill has been postponed indefinitely.
This bill would require a third party to analyze applications by groups who want to apply for tourism tax credits and incentives. The businesses must prove that a significant portion of the sales tax revenue will come from out-of-state tourists. The bill will pay for itself through application fees.

SB-124 Tourism projects
Passed  House and Senate.
Current law allows the state to approve two initial projects for a community and two other projects in the following years. This bill eliminates the limits on how often a local government can apply for state tourism grants. Current law says the state can only use  state tax incremental financing for six projects over two years.

HB 1286 – Creates a Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media.

Passed House and introduced in Senate.

This bill was introduced to create new jobs in the Colorado film industry. This bill is part of the “Colorado Works Jobs Package,” a series of bills focused on continued job creation. The bill creates a loan guarantee program for production activities, the first of its kind in the country, and will increase the existing film incentives from 10 percent rebate for production costs to 20 percent, allowing Colorado to meet or exceed similar programs in other states. The rebate will apply to production costs for film, television series, commercials, documentaries, music videos and video game creation.  It also gives the Colorado film office $3 million.

Aerospace

SB-035 Limited liability for spaceflight activities
This bill has been signed by the governor.
This bill limits the liability for a spaceflight business in case of injury to participants. Before taking a tourist space flight, participants must sign a agreement and warning statement that they acknowledge the business isn’t responsible for injuries or death — except in the case of gross negligence.

Analysts view this bill as a necessary step for Colorado to maintain its aerospace industries. In December, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the state was seeking an official spaceport designation from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA is responsible for licensing, regulating and promoting the commercial-sector space industry.  Colorado is home to 400 space-related companies, and the industry is estimated to generate $3 billion in state revenue annually.

Retail

SB-048 Colorado Cottage Foods Act
This bill has been signed into law by the governor.
This bill would make it easier for small producers to do business in the state. They would be exempt from licensing requirements placed on retail food establishments and requiring producers to be certified in safe food handling and processing.
The bill also would limit the liability of local food banks that distribute food produced under the new law. It also limits the liability of schools and nonprofits when their kitchens are used to prepare food for sale directly to consumers.
In addition, people who sell fewer than 250 dozen eggs monthly no longer have to be licensed to sell the eggs.
This bill allows, but does not require, a county or district public health agency to register producers. The fiscal impact of the bill is conditional upon a county or district public health agency choosing to implement a registration system. Any fiscal impact is expected to be minimal.

Monica Wiitanen is the owner of The Small Potatoes Farm in Paonia, Colorado, and said her farm will directly benefit from the passage of Senate Bill 48.

“This bill would make a big difference to our farm operation as we could use excess or injured produce to make garlic and chile powder, dried tomatoes, kale chips, potato bread, and lots more.  I work with a young professional baker and this will create income for him as well. It really has a spiral effect, and I think it will bring some life and prosperity into our community.”

The bill limits food sales to $5,000 a year.  A similar bill was defeated last year because of public health concerns.

Food and safety industry at odds over bill

SB-094 Sales tax on food
This bill passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature.
Under current law, food to be used at home is exempt from state sales tax. Cities and counties have the option of levying sales tax on food, and some cities have a different sales tax rate for food. However, the state only taxes food from restaurants, delis and convenience stores – if the food is to be eaten immediately. The bill intends to ensure that identical food items are taxed consistently regardless of where they are purchased. While this won’t affect state law, it could affect local governments that tax food differently based on where it is purchased.

HB-1027 Direct food sales
This bill was postponed indefinitely in the Senate.
The bill would allow people to produce food in home kitchens for direct sale to consumers. County or district public health agencies will register the home kitchens, and the food is subject to inspection by state and public health agencies. A county or district public health agency may register producers and charge a fee up to $100 per producer per year.

The bill is limited to “non-hazardous food” like baked goods.

Would-be business owners testified that this bill makes it easier for them to become entrepreneurs.  The bill is better than the Senate bill about home-food, because it doesn’t limit sales.

HB-1069 Tax expenditures
Passed House.
The bill creates a state sales and use tax exemption for back-to-school items, for three days in August. The tax holiday would last for five years, starting in 2012. Back to school items include clothes, shoes, school supplies and computers. Sports uniforms and equipment are included, but accessories are not. The state would lose $5.8 million in sales tax revenue, and it is estimated that consumers will spend about $203.3 million in 2012, about $39 a person buying items it would not normally purchase.