LiveWell Colorado May Policy Digest

FOOD POLICY WEBINAR OPPORTUNITY

Working Together on State & Federal Food Policy

Thursday, May 11, 2017

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Do you think you have little ability to impact federal policy? Or even state policy? Think again. In fact, you have greater capacity to impact federal and state policy than you think. If working on policy change is something you: 1) know needs to happen, 2) want to engage more in, or 3) are uncertain how, then this webinar is what you’ve been waiting for!

After a brief overview of how the federal and state government systems work, we will discuss ways to build your capacity and that of your community to leverage your knowledge and expertise for policy gain.

Register today to reserve your spot!

 

State Policy Update

Transportation Funding Measure Could be Crumbling, Just Like our Bridges, Roads and Sidewalks

As we near the end of the legislative session the Capitol is heating up. With 16 days before the bang of the final gavel, House Bill 17-1242, the bill to refer a transportation funding measure to voters in November, appears to be in a precarious situation. Since our last update, the bill has passed in the House as well as through the Senate Transportation Committee. Although there have been many amendments, LiveWell remains pleased with the content of the bill as funding for walking, biking and transit remains. The bill appeared to be cruising along until Thursday of last week.

After passing through Senate Transportation, the bill’s next stop is Senate Finance and is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, April 25th. However, as of today, it does not appear that there are enough votes to get the bill out of Finance and to the Senate floor for debate by the full Senate. Update: The bill failed on a partyline 3-2 vote with the Republicans on the committee citing ideological opposition to tax increases as the reason for their “no” votes.

The bill would have:

  • Refers a measure to the 2017 ballot increasing the state sales tax from 2.9% to 3.4% (a 0.5 % increase rather than a 0.62% as was in the bill when it left the House) for 20 years to generate revenue for transportation improvements at the state and local government level. If passed by voters in November, the measure is estimated to generate $576 million a year beginning in 2018;
  • Directs the state legislature to transfer $100 million annually from the General Fund to CDOT for bond debt repayment;
  • Eliminates the state share of the FASTER Road Safety Surcharge for passenger vehicles 10,000 lbs. or less, saving consumers roughly $80.5 million annually; and
  • 15% of the newly generated funds would go to a new multi-modal transportation options grant fund to be administered by CDOT and would be eligible for matching grants for various uses, including transportation projects that facilitate the ability for our seniors to access “age in place” by expanding their access to transportation options, safe routes to schools, bus and rail, and “first mile, last mile” related projects that allow for expanded access to existing transit options. Within this fund, not more than 75% of the revenues are allocated to the transportation options account, and at least 25% to the pedestrian and active transportation account, which is for non-motorized use including paths, sidewalks, and roadways for non-motorized equipment.  Revenue to this new fund would be approximately $86.5 million in the first full year.

 

SB267 – Sustainability of Rural Colorado

This bill accomplishes three main objectives: 1) allocates $100 million of general fund dollars for up to $1.2 billion in bonds for transportation infrastructure projects 2) requires every state agency to reduce their budget by at least 2% over the coming years and 3) moves the Colorado Health Care Affordability Program to an enterprise fund raising the TABOR imposed revenue cap by $670 million (which decreases the amount of other spending cuts the legislature would have to make in order to balance the budget).

This bill is being considered at the same time as the legislature is considering HB1242 which also fund bond projects by raising the state’s sales tax. As a result of the two competing bills, SB267 is currently stalled, awaiting negotiations on 1242. Final approval or dismissal of the bill may likely hinge on political motivations and not the bill’s merits.

 

HB1192 – COFSAC

The COFSAC bill is still hanging out in House Appropriations waiting for some budgetary issues to finish shaking out.  With 2 ½ weeks left in the session, it’s coming down to the wire. Stay tuned for late breaking news about the COFSAC bill. We remain cautiously optimistic that it will become law.

 

HB1306 – Testing Lead in School Water

HB1306 presents an opportunity for schools and school districts to apply for grant money from CDPHE to test for lead in school drinking water. The bill takes advantage of already allocated grant dollars to CDPHE and allows the department to set aside $300,000 after all other granting opportunities have been funded to establish the grant program. HB1306 has already passed the House Education Committee with bipartisan support and is currently set for a hearing in House Appropriations.