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Legislative Action Report

LWVCO Legislative Action Committee  | Published on 4/1/2021

 

LWVCO's trained volunteer lobbyists of the Legislative Action Committee (LAC) work to influence the Colorado General Assembly on selected bills, based on League positions and principals. During each  legislative session, you can read about  the Legislative Action Committee on our "Legislative Action Report" web page.

 

LEGISLATIVE ACTION REPORT

The experts on the LAC would be happy to discuss any of the bills or articles you see below. If you would like to get in touch with them, please email the LWVCO office at info@lwvcolorado.org. General questions about the LAC or LWVCO advocacy efforts can be directed to Andrea Wilkins (awilkins@lwvcolorado.org) or Toni Larson (toni.larson@gmail.com). 


Bill Tracker 

The Legislative Action Committee (LAC) monitors and lobbies many bills each Legislative Session. Use the Master Bill Tracker to see the current status of each bill. You may print the spreadsheet using the "download to spreadsheet" option.

 

JBC Receives March Revenue Briefing

Andrea Wilkins, Legislative Liaison

  

On March 19 the Legislative Council and staff from the Office of Planning and Budgeting provided the March Economic and Revenue forecast to the JBC with welcome news that the state economy is recovering from the pandemic recession.

 

Based on the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the General Fund ended the year with a 15.4 % reserve, $1.46 billion above the 3.07 % required reserve. Revenue subject to TABOR fell just short ($82.6 million) of the Referendum C cap.

 

General Fund revenue collections are projected to decline 1.1 % from a year ago however, significant budget balancing actions made during the 2020 legislative session are expected to more than offset this projected revenue decline.

 

It is important to note that we are seeing different speeds of recovery for different parts of the economy.  Retail sales rates are strong, reflecting pent up demand and large increases in savings in 2020 for those not negatively impacted financially by the downturn.  While aggregate indicators overall are positive, the message is more mixed across the board.   A longer road to recovery expected where employment is concerned, particularly hard-hit industries such as the restaurant sector. 

 

Related to this, the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is expected to end FY 2020-21 with a deficit of $955 million due to the unprecedented increase in unemployment benefits paid during the COVID-19-related recession. The fund became insolvent in August 2020, when benefits exceeded available funds. The fund is not expected to return to solvency within the forecast period, necessitating ongoing borrowing to fund benefits.

 

Based on this forecast, the General Assembly will have $5.29 billion, or 45.5 percent, more to spend or save than in the current FY 2020-21.

 

Economic & Revenue Forecast

Economic & Revenue Forecast Presentation Slides


Hazardous Air Pollutants Under Review

Ann Sutton

Local governments, conservation groups and community groups, including local leagues, are taking action to address toxic air pollution from petroleum refining and storage and distribution of petroleum products in Colorado. 

Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act (CAA).  EPA defines HAP as those pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental effects.  EPA is working with state, local, and tribal governments to reduce air emissions of 187 toxic air pollutants to the environment.

EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory Program (TRI) tracks certain chemicals that may pose a threat to health and the environment by requiring facilities to report annually regarding each chemical.  There are currently 770 listed chemicals; not all of the chemicals are considered HAP.  TRI data reports are available on an interactive website. https://www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program

EPA has delegated to the states the authority to enforce a wide range of Federal statutes and regulations.  In Colorado, the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) grants permits to Colorado industry for air pollutant limits under the federal Clean Air Act Title V for pollutants such as small particles and volatile organic compounds (VOC: nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, hydrogen sulfide).  Compliance is monitored and enforced by the Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) of CDPHE through programs for inspection and facility self-monitoring/ self-reporting.   Exceeding permitted limits can result in fines and consent orders.

In 2020 Suncor Energy in Commerce City (Adams County) was fined $9M for operations emissions in excess of permit from AQCC.

The health department says Suncor emitted volatile organic compounds in excess of its permit, including sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter, which the EPA says can cause breathing problems for people with asthma, children and older adults. Suncor has also agreed to undertake additional and increased monitoring of hydrogen cyanide emissions, both at the refinery and in the community [Colorado Sun Mar 6, 2020]

According to CDPHE there have been 9 enforcement actions between 2011 and 2019.  https://cdphe.colorado.gov/enforcement-actions-against-suncor

In 2019 alone, the Commerce City refinery had 75 separate “upsets” in which more chemicals were released than its permit allows.  Before this year’s settlement, Suncor had been fined more than $3.6 million for violations since 2010. The plant will be 90 years old in 2021.  [Colorado Sun Sep 14, 2020]

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