2023 Interim Committee Recap – Part 3

This is the final part in a series of three articles summarizing this year’s interim committee actions. As previously mentioned, we’re providing summaries of four of 12 committees and their recommended legislation. Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2 of the series. The Legislative Council met on Wednesday, November 15, to review interim committee legislation proposals. Click here to listen to the Legislative Council meeting.

Sales and Use Task Simplification Task Force

The task force met four times during the interim. It heard presentations from the Department of Revenue, the Colorado Municipal League, local government representatives, and private industry stakeholders. The meetings included public testimony and discussions relating to the electronic Sales and Use Tax System (SUTS), the need for accurate and up-to-date information from local taxing jurisdictions, thresholds for filing sales and use tax returns, participation by home rule municipalities, and local lodging taxes. The task force requested and recommended five bills to the Legislative Council as follows:

  • Bill A – Streamlining Filing of Sales and Use Tax Returns. The bill increases the monthly tax collected threshold at which taxpayers are permitted to make returns and pay taxes at quarterly intervals. It sets thresholds, effective on and after January 1, 2025, for self-collecting home rule municipalities that do not use SUTS allowing taxpayers to make returns and pay sales and uses taxes at certain intervals. It requires all local taxing jurisdictions, including all home rule municipalities, to begin using SUTS by July 1, 2025, and precludes any non-compliant jurisdiction from participating in the streamlined process for collecting sales and use taxes from certain retailers.
  • Bill B – Hold Harmless for Error in GIS Database Data. The Department of Revenue maintains a Geographic Information Systems database for vendors to use to determine the jurisdictions to which tax is owed and to calculate appropriate sales and use tax rates. The bill provides that a vendor that relies on the database to determine the local taxing jurisdictions to which tax is owed is held harmless in an audit by a local taxing jurisdiction for any underpayment of tax, charge, or fee liability that results solely from an error or omission in the database.
  • Bill C – Simplify Processes Regarding Certain Local Government Taxes. The bill requires local taxing jurisdictions that impose a local lodging tax or a sales or use tax on building or construction materials and integrates such sales or use tax into building permits to file certain information with the executive director of the department and for the executive director to publish the information. It modifies the scope of the task force’s charge to include simplification of local lodging tax systems and requires certain action during the 2024 interim by the task force related thereto. 
  • Bill D – Uniform Definition and Reporting for Local Lodging Tax.The bill requires local taxing jurisdictions, including any home rule municipalities, to apply the same standards to an accommodation intermediary as those applied to a marketplace facilitator that is obligated to collect and remit a local lodging tax. It prohibits local taxing jurisdictions from imposing additional information reporting requirements on accommodation intermediaries.
  • Bill E – Update of Local Government Sales and Use Tax Collection.The bill revises, modernizes, and harmonizes the separate statutes that govern the state administration of local sales or use tax by creating new parts 2 and 3 in article 2 of title 29. It makes various changes to the collection, administration, enforcement, and distribution of a statutory local government, special district, or requesting home rule jurisdiction sales or use taxes that are administered by the Department of Revenue and establishes a dispute resolution process when the local sales or use tax that is administered, collected, and enforced by the department is paid erroneously to the state or to the wrong locality.

Transportation Legislation Review Committee

The committee met three times and heard presentations from the Public Utilities Commission, Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of Public Safety, towing and recovery industry, Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, Sierra Club, Department of Transportation, railroad industry, transportation industry labor unions, the Regional Transportation District, Denver Regional Council of Governments, Freight Panel Advisory Committee, Bicycle Colorado and the American Automobile Association of Colorado, Colorado Municipal League, the Greeley Evans Transit, the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, the Public Highway Authorities, and the Colorado Energy Office. The committee recommended the following five bills to the Legislative Council for consideration:

  • Bill A – Vulnerable Road Users Protection Enterprise. The bill creates the vulnerable road user protection enterprise in the Department of Transportation for the purpose of providing funding for transportation system infrastructure improvements identified by the department that reduce the number of collisions with motor vehicles resulting in death or serious injury to vulnerable road users. The enterprise is required to impose the fee and the fee revenue is credited to a newly created fund and continuously appropriated to the enterprise, which is authorized to provide grants to fund eligible projects.
  • Bill B – Child Passenger Safety and Education. The bill creates the child passenger safety education and distribution grant program within the Department of Transportation. The department is required to create rules specifying elements of the grant program. The bill changes existing law regarding the age and weight requirements of children required to use child restraint systems and additional requirements for the restraint of older children.
  • Bill C – Railroad Safety Requirements. The bill imposes safety requirements on railroads operating trains in the state, including maximum train lengths. That, with certain exceptions, railroads must operate, maintain, and report the location of wayside detector systems that monitor passing trains for defects. Trains may not obstruct a public crossing for longer than 10 minutes unless continuously moving or prevented from moving by circumstances beyond its control. Any train crew member may report to a designated union representative a safety violation, injury, or death that occurred during the operation of a train and union representatives may enter a railroad’s place of operation to investigate that report. The Public Utilities Commission may impose fines for the violation of these safety requirements or for denying a union representative’s access and the bill creates the front range passenger rail district maintenance and safety fund, which consists of money collected as fines imposed by the commission. Requires railroads that transport hazardous material in Colorado to maintain insurance coverage to cover costs and liabilities resulting from accidents.
  • Bill D – Towing Carrier Regulation. The bill requires a tow truck driver to undergo a fingerprint-based criminal history record check. If the check produces a criminal history that the Public Utilities Commission determines is inappropriate for tow truck driver, the driver will not be permitted to drive the tow truck. The bill prohibits members of the Towing Task Force in the Department of Regulatory Agencies from voting on matters that will financially benefit them or if they are the subject of a complaint about which the task force is advising the commission. Requires the commission to promulgate a rule to require towing carriers to provide any information needed for its annual report to the General Assembly. A towing carrier is forbidden from patrolling or monitoring property to enforce parking restrictions on behalf of the property owner. Requires certain property owners to pay for the removal of the vehicle from their property and for any storage for the first 30 days. The towing carrier is required to notify the vehicle owner that the vehicle owner can retrieve the vehicle free of charge for the first 30 days. If a motor vehicle is nonconsensually towed in violation of state statute, the towing carrier must, within 48 hours after the determination of a statutory violation, return the vehicle to the place it was towed from.
  • Bill E – Methods to Increase the Use of Transit. The bill creates new programs and modifies an existing program with the goal of reducing ozone emissions through the increased use of transit. Creates the statewide transit pass exploratory committee within the Department of Transportation to produce a proposal for the creation, implementation, and administration of a statewide transit pass. Modifies the ozone season transit grant program by relocating the program to the department, creates certain stipulations regarding the disbursement of funds, and makes the program permanent. Creates the youth fare free transit grant program to provide grants to provide free year-round transit services for individuals who are 19 years of age or younger and specifies procedures and reporting requirements for receiving grant money. For income tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2024, but before January 1, 2029, the bill creates an income tax credit on the purchase of one or more transit passes for use by the taxpayer during that income tax year and the requirements for claiming the credit.

Water Resources and Agriculture Review Committee

The committee, which is actually a year-round committee, met four times during the interim and heard presentations concerning the Colorado River drought, pesticide regulation, impacts of conservation on water rights, reintroduction of gray wolves, tribal nations’ water rights, artificial turf, public rights on rivers, and stream restoration. The committee had 10 bills drafted and recommended the following nine bills to the Legislative Council:

  • Bill A – Veterinary technicians’ and veterinary technician specialists’ scope of practice. The bill requires the board of veterinary medicine to promulgate rules establishing certain veterinary medicine tasks that may be delegated to veterinary technicians and veterinary technician specialists and the recommended level of supervision for these tasks. A licensed veterinarian may delegate such tasks after first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship with an animal or group of animals and the owner of the animal or animals. Beginning on January 1, 2026, the bill authorizes a veterinary technician to receive a specialist designation as part of the veterinary technician’s registration, grants title protection for specialists, and prohibits the unauthorized practice as a specialist by a person who does not have a specialist designation.
  • Bill B – Authorizing water management by conservation districts. The bill allows conservancy districts to conserve, develop, utilize, or dispose of water for commercial uses. Authorizes the district’s board of directors to submit and participate in a plan for augmentation for the benefit of water rights and wells within and outside of the boundaries of the district; contract with water users within and outside of the district for the provision of services; exercise certain powers concerning the management, control, delivery, use, and distribution of water in conjunction with a plan for augmentation; establish a water activity enterprise for the purpose of pursuing or continuing water activities; and sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of the use of water or capacity in works by term contracts or by contracts for the perpetual use of the water or works to certain entities. Authorizes a district to enter into long-term contracts with public and private entities and avail itself of aid, assistance, and cooperation from the federal government, the state government, and local governments.
  • Bill C – Public meetings requirement for members of certain state entities. Prior to the consolidation of the Division of Wildlife and the Division of Parks and Recreation and their respective commissions in Senate Bill 11-208, members of the Wildlife Commission were required to hold at least two public meetings per year in their respective geographic districts. This bill renews the public engagement requirement for the members of the Parks and Wildlife Commission and adds the same public engagement requirement for members of the State Agricultural Commission and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Requires the public engagement meetings be held in person and for status updates on the commission and board members’ compliance with the public engagement requirement to be reported to the chair of each member’s respective commission or board and included in each member’s respective executive department’s annual “SMART Act” presentation to the General Assembly.
  • Bill D – Nonfunctional and artificial turf and invasive plant species. The bill, on and after January 1, 2025, prohibits local governments and unit owners’ associations of common interest communities from allowing the installation, planting, or placement of nonfunctional turf, artificial turf, or an invasive plant species on commercial, institutional, or industrial property or a transportation corridor. Prohibits the Department of Personnel from allowing the installation, planting, or placement of nonfunctional turf, artificial turf, or invasive plant species as part of a project for the construction or renovation of a state facility, which project commences on or after January 1, 2025.
  • Bill E – Veterinary telehealth. The bill allows a licensed veterinarian who has established a veterinarian-client-patient relationship to use telemedicine to provide veterinary services to clients and patients in Colorado with the consent of the client. A licensed veterinarian may also refer a patient to a veterinary specialist, who may provide veterinary services via telemedicine. It defines different types of telehealth tools that can be used in a veterinary practice and extends the veterinarian-client-patient relationship to other licensed veterinarians who share the same physical premises as the veterinarian who established the relationship. Authorizes the Board of Veterinary Medicine to establish rules for the use of telehealth to provide veterinary services.
  • Bill F – Green infrastructure feasibility study and pilot program. The bill requires a feasibility study of the use of green infrastructure (nature-based, watershed-scale water quality management solutions) that are an alternative to traditional gray infrastructure (centralized water treatment facilities) and the use of green financing mechanisms for water quality management. It establishes pilot projects to demonstrate the use of green infrastructure and green financing mechanisms; authorizes the adoption of rules establishing a pre-permit baseline date to assist municipalities and other water providers to pursue pre-permit solutions for compliance with water quality standards; and reporting to the committee on the progress of the feasibility study and any pilot projects and on any legislative and administrative recommendations to promote the use of green infrastructure and green financing mechanisms for water quality management.
  • Bill G – Enforcement of laws concerning noxious weeds. Current law allows the Commissioner of Agriculture to assess civil penalties for violations of state laws related to the prevention of noxious weeds. The bill clarifies that a board of county commissioners may allow for the assessment and collection of fines for violations of local laws enacted to enforce the management of noxious weeds in the county. Creates civil infractions and penalties; allows a county attorney to issue an injunction to prevent an ongoing violation; and allows a board to appoint a district attorney to enforce violations in the event that the county does not have a county attorney or in any other circumstance that the board deems appropriate.
  • Bill H – Raw milk. The bill authorizes a raw milk producer that registers with the Department of Public Health and Environment to engage in direct-to-consumer sales of raw milk in the state if the producer complies with certain labeling, storage, handling, record-keeping, and transportation requirements. The direct-to-consumer sales may take place at the producer’s place of business, at the consumer’s residence, or at a farmers’ market or roadside market. Authorizes the department to adopt rules regarding raw milk intended for sale directly to consumers; inspect and embargo producers’ raw milk and operations; enforce against a violation in court or by imposition of a civil penalty and, if two or more separate violations are committed in a 12-month period, suspend the producer from selling raw milk for 12 months; and prepare and distribute educational materials.
  • Bill I – Expenditure of moneys for the wild horse project. The bill extends, by three years, the time in which money appropriated to implement the wild horse project, created in Senate Bill 23-275, may be expended by the general assembly and the department of law.

Wildfire Matters Review Committee

The committee met four times during the 2023 interim.  The committee heard testimony from the Department of Public Safety, Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Northern Colorado Fireshed Collaboration, Department of Natural Resources, Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado Counties, Inc., University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Colorado Rural Electric Association, Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities, Department of Public Health and Environment & Department of Public Safety, Colorado Forest Health Council, Center for Independence      , Center for People with Disabilities, Special District Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Colorado Division of Insurance, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Colorado State Fire Chiefs. The committee requested the drafting of nine bills and recommended the following five bills to the Legislative Council for consideration:

  • Bill A – A comprehensive study on biochar, including the use of biochar in wildfire mitigation efforts. The bill directs the Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System to conduct a comprehensive study on biochar, including its use in wildfire mitigation efforts. The board is required to submit a report on the findings of the study to specified committees of the general assembly.
  • Bill B –Strongly encouraging that emergency management plans address the needs of an individual with an animal during an emergency and that local governments make certain information publicly available relating to an individual with an animal during an emergency. The bill encourages a locally defined or interjurisdictional emergency management plan amended or created on or after July 1, 2024, to address the needs of an individual with an animal during an emergency by: including provisions for the evacuation, shelter, and transport of an individual with an animal and that animal; and requiring, to the extent practicable, that at least one shelter established during an emergency is designated to accommodate an individual with an animal. Encourages a city, county, or city and county to make available to the public information for animal emergency preparedness, including: information for creating an evacuation plan and emergency checklist for individuals with animals consistent with recommendations publicly published by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Federal Emergency Management Agency; local organizations that may provide emergency animal assistance; and local emergency shelters, cooling centers, or warming centers, when active, that can accommodate an individual with an animal.
  • Bill C – Assistance for rural communities to apply for wildfire-related grant money. The bill directs the Rural Opportunity Office in the Colorado Office of Economic Development to assist rural communities with identifying and applying for state or federal grants for wildfire mitigation, prevention, response, or risk management efforts. The office is required to prepare a report summarizing its work to assist rural communities with identifying and applying for wildfire-related grants and the report must include information about the rural communities that the office assists and the grants awarded. The office is required to submit the report to the committee or, if the committee no longer exists, to the legislative committees with jurisdiction over natural resources matters.
  • Bill D – Assisting local governments in disaster-related programs, including establishing the slash removal pilot program and providing guidance to local governments on debris removal programs.The bill establishes the slash removal pilot program under the wildfire mitigation incentives for local governments grant program administered by the Colorado State Forest Service. The forest service must establish the policies and procedures for the implementation and the selection of counties for participation in the pilot program. Requires the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in the Department of Public Safety to provide guidance to local governments concerning debris removal issues including: negotiating debris removal program terms with the federal emergency management agency to provide predictability and eliminate duplicate payments for debris removal; developing standard right of entry forms that include opt-in and opt-out provisions and clear insurance assignment of benefit language; establishing right-of-way cleanup procedures, including the removal of private vehicles, for public roadways; considering the removal of hazardous materials and other safety and environmental concerns; and ensuring that local debris removal programs are limited to residential debris removal and do not include commercial debris removal.
  • Bill E – The continuation of public outreach campaigns relating to wildfire risk mitigation in the wildland-urban interface. The bill requires the Colorado State Forest Service to conduct enhanced wildfire awareness month outreach campaigns through 2027 and other outreach efforts through the 2026-27 state fiscal year that are expected to increase awareness of wildfire risk mitigation by residents in the wildland-urban interface.