#Coleg Notebook: Crowd investing; protecting the construction-defect industry

Coming to a Colorado biz near you: Crowd investing 

Back when marijuana was first becoming legal, the folks at the Securities and Exchange Commission noticed an innovative, albeit illegal, trend: would-be weed entrepreneurs were using Craigslist to find investors.

Currently, even if you have an idea for a legal business, securing investors is a long and costly task. You have to file with the federal SEC and at the state level and, even after you’ve spent thousands on lawyers, you’re only able to accept investments from folks with an annual income above $200,000 or $1 million in assets.

“Rich people can fund other rich people’s ideas, is basically where we are in 2015,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver.

To Pabon’s mind, there’s all kinds of problems with this model — it exacerbates gentrification, makes it difficult for working- and lower-middle class people to build wealth, and it blows an opportunity for local businesses to become true community affairs.

So, following some loosening of federal investment policy in part motivated by Colorado’s own digital entrepreneurs, Pabon has introduced a bipartisan bill to legalize and facilitate “crowd investment” by Coloradans in Colorado-owned-and-operated businesses (sorry folks, weed is still out though — the business has to be legal at the federal level).

“Crowd funding completely turns investment on its head… It changes the dynamic of who can be an entrepreneur and who can’t,” said Pabon. “If someone has a mom-and-pop idea at their dining room table, or in their garage, or wherever, they can go to friends and neighbors on their own street and ask them to invest in this idea with them.”

Pabon’s “democratized capital” would be limited to $5,000 per investor for a total of no more than $1 million, and the Colorado Securities Commissioner would oversee the program — to protect investors from getting bilked.

HB 1246 has already passed the House. If all goes well under Majority Leader Mark Scheffel, R-Parker,’s sponsorship in the Senate, Coloradans could be clicking around a legal, Craigslist-like, crowd investment site as early as this summer.


Construction defects debate draws heavies 

There were Mayors, in particular Denver’s Michael Hancock, at the Capitol Wednesday as the great construction defects debate rolled into the evening. The message? We’ve spent a lot of time and energy building mass transit and now nobody wants to build cheap condos near the stops, or anywhere else for that matter.

SB 177, which passed its first committee, would push homeowner complaints about shoddy construction to arbitration instead of to court. Advocates of the bill, which has bipartisan sponsorship, say this would make it less risky, and thus cheaper, for developers to build condos. Opponents say So don’t build shoddy condos!

“I think a vote for this bill is a vote for, based on the testimony we’ve heard, our chambers of commerce, our mayors and our building contractors,” said Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver. “A vote against this bill is a vote for the homeowners whose largest investment of their life has been impacted by a construction defect.”


Daww, rain barrels

Why is the legalize rain barrels bill so cute? Is it the charming DIY-orientation — a science fair approach to water conservation? Is it the repeat references to watering flowers and heirloom tomatoes? Is it that finally, finally, finally there’s a bill on water policy just about everyone can understand? It is all these things. For more on the policy we direct you to water nerds: here and here.


DUIrony draws Twitter pile-on

The optics aren’t great. Max Potter likely wrote the speeches in which Gov. Hickenlooper has been making a strong case for a felony DUI bill. On Wednesday night Potter was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Hickenlooper spokesperson Kathy Green said Potter hadn’t been at work at the time. Potter apologized and said it was a serious lapse that he regretted. There was also trial-by-Twitter:





Image by Rocío Lara