West Slope Legislators Back Diverse Bills

There are 12 legislators representing constituents on the Western Slope. Collectively, they have introduced about 130 bills in this year’s Legislature. In a collection of stories, some of these bills will be highlighted. PhotobucketShortcut Proposed on Severance Tax Funds

Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, and Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, have co-sponsored House Bill 1084 that would allow energy companies to pre-pay severance taxes directly to local or state government entities. The monies are to be used for the expansion or maintenance of public facilities including roads and bridges, schools, water and sewer facilities, police and fire protection facilities, hospitals, or other physical infrastructure.

Currently, severance tax revenues are collected and distributed through a maze of complex formulas.

The payment cannot exceed $1 million per project or $5 million per year per company. The Department of Local Affairs will oversee the process if the bill is approved.

DOLA already distributes severance tax revenues back to communities affected by energy development, but at smaller amounts. HB-1084 would allow more money to flow faster to targeted projects that need immediate attention, such as an additional I-70 interchange in Parachute or a new bridge in DeBeque.

Anti-strike Resolution Beefs Up Ritter’s Executive Order

Newly appointed Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, introduced HB-1189 that prohibits an employee in the state personnel system or a labor organization from encouraging, aiding or participating in a strike or slowdown.

Last November, Gov. Bill Ritter issued an executive order that recognized unions in state government and it also included a no-strike clause.

PhotobucketSales Tax Cap Could Be Whacked

Currently, there is a 6.9 percent sales tax limitation on the combined sales or use tax rate that may be levied by the state, county or city. Should Sen. Jim Isgar’s Senate Bill 128 pass in the Legislature, it would eliminate that sales tax cap.

When a sales tax cap limit is imminent, counties and cities can compete over sales tax revenue ballot initiatives. The cap has also restricted state sales tax increases.

If passed by the Legislature, the measure will likely have to go before the voters in November since SB-128 calls for a change in the tax structure.

PhotobucketState May Regulate Manure Use

Colorado won’t be able to use any old manure or dirt for its lawns and gardens if Rep. Ray Rose’s HB-1181 gains traction. The Montrose Republican’s bill proposes to control what kind of compost the state can buy.

The bill will prohibit a state governmental body from purchasing “bad” compost. Instead, the mixture will have to be produced under guidelines that comply with public health and environmental regulations.

Gibbs is the bill’s co-sponsor.

Top photo: Rep. Bernie Buescher Middle Photo: Sen. Jim Isgar Bottom photo: Rep. Ray Rose