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COLORADO TROUT UNLIMITED

FINAL LEGISLATIVE REPORT

May 20, 2007
Jen Boulton

The 2007 legislative session adjourned on May 4, a historic five days ahead of schedule. After 115 intense days, we have a reason to celebrate one of the most successful sessions ever. Despite some scares, and near misses, we passed some significant steps forward for the environment. Equally important, we defeated or mooted every step backwards.

General Assembly Website: www.leg.state.co.us

[Priority Bills] [Energy Bills] [Water Bills] [Land Bills] [Miscellaneous]

Common Acronyms:
CDPHE:Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
COGCC:Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
CWCB:Colorado Water Conservation Board
DOW:Division of Wildlife
DNR:Department of Natural Resources
DOLA:Department of Local Affairs
DORA:Department of Regulatory Agencies

PRIORITY BILLS

***HB1110 TAKINGS
(Lambert, Brophy) 
Position OpposeStatus: Dead

HB1110 potentially repealed all state and local government land use regulations. It required that any regulation which potentially reduced the value of any portion of property by 20%, which was enacted OR ENFORCED was compensable (similar to the Oregon Takings initiative). HB1110 was also RETOACTIVE to 1970, or the date the current owner acquired the property. What made this bill a little different from previous takings bills was that it contained a series of exclusions. After the egregious compensation language, was a long list of situations under which the bill did not apply. Included in the list of exclusions were regulations necessary to protect public health, safety, morals, or welfare; land use regulations intended to protect neighborhood aesthetics, and open space, or to reduce fragmentation of habitat; and situations where failure to regulate the affected property would reduce the value of neighboring property.

Essentially, this bill started as a horrific takings measure, and then said that it was almost never applicable. In the best case, HB1110 was an unnecessary measure which did nothing except bankrupt governmental entities which must have continuously defended against spurious takings claims. In the worst case, the exclusions would have been stripped one by one over the course of time, leaving us with no ability to enact or enforce regulations to protect our air and water quality, or to protect the health or the very existence of fragile ecosystems and the species that depend on them.

Thank you to those who voted against this frightening bill. (Reps. Curry, Gagliardi, Peniston, Soper, McKinley, and Hodge)

*HB1298 PROTECT WILDLIFE FROM OIL/GAS DEVELOPMENT
(Gibbs, Tochtrop) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

HB1298 requires the COGCC to consult with the Colorado DOW to promulgate rules protecting wildlife from the ramifications of oil and gas exploration. As introduced, it included a list of minimum protections to be included in the rulemaking. In the House Ag committee, however, the list was removed, and replaced with a less restrictive group of recommendations for consideration. The heart of the bill, giving the DOW a voice in oil/gas decision-making, remains intact.

*SB122 CWCB PROJECTS BILL
(Isgar, Curry) 
Position: Amend/SupportStatus: Signed

SB122 is the annual funding bill for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. This year there were a few areas of concern. The first problem was the allocation of $150,000 to study the impact of instream flows and Recreational In-Channel Diversions (RICDs) on potential future water development. The second problem was an increase in the amount of money the CWCB may loan for water projects without legislative oversight from $5M to $25M. The third problem was the proposed expenditure of $500,000 to study the amount of water in the Colorado River basin for transfer to the Front Range. The last significant problem was the allocation of $100,000 to study mitigation and moving of fens. Certainly amendments are necessary to address at least the first three issues, and probably for the last as well.

We successfully amended the bill to remove the provision to study Instream Flow and RICDs. We lowered the increase in loan authority from $25M to$10M, and we successfully amended the $500,000 study of water availability to focus on in basin needs . Unfortunately, the amendment to remove the fen study failed. Thank you to Reps Curry and Gibbs for helping us fix the availability study, and to Rep. Fischer for his Herculean efforts to remove the fen study.

*HB1223 PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH FROM OIL/GAS DEVELOPMENT
(Curry,) 
Position: SupportStatus: Dead

HB1223 requires the COGCC to consult with the CDPHE to promulgate rules to protect public health from the impacts of oil and gas exploration. As with HB1298, the list of protections required in rulemaking was reduced in committee, yet the intent of including the CDPHE in oil/gas decision-making remains intact.

The rulemaking authority was amended into HB1341, so the sponsor asked to kill HB1223.

*HB1341 MODIFY COGCC MEMBERSHIP
(Curry, Isgar) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

Currently the COGCC is composed of seven members. Five are required to be experts in oil and gas production, one is to be a representative of wildlife or environmental interests, and one is to be a representative of agriculture. There has been widespread concern for many years that the oil and gas industry is being regulated by members of the industry. HB1341 modifies the makeup of the commission. Under HB1341 there will be nine members of the commission. Three shall be experts in oil and gas production, one shall have expertise in wildlife or the environment, one shall be a landowner in agricultural production who owns royalties, one shall represent local governments, one shall be an expert in health care, and the directors of DNR and CDPHE shall also be voting members.

In the Senate State Affairs Committee, the rulemaking provisions of HB1223 were added, and the definition of waste was modified. Additionally, the COGCC is directed to conduct the health and wildlife rulemakings concurrently so that the process is expedited.


ENERGY

SB92 SEVERANCE TAX FOR SCHOOL ENERGY COSTS
(Shaffer) 
Position: OpposeStatus: Dead

SB92 directs the PUC to develop lower rates for electricity and natural gas for public school districts. SB92 takes an undetermined amount from the Severance tax trust fund to defray costs of student transportation. Severance tax needs to be spent on the purposes for which it was intended; not for other programs, however deserving they might be.

SB145 RENEWABLE ENERGY FIXTURES INCENTIVES
(Tupa, Gibbs) 
Position: FYIStatus: Signed

SB145 allows rebates for purchase of renewable energy fixtures such as solar panels, or individual wind turbines.

HB1142 OIL AND GAS VALUATION
(Curry, Isgar) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

HB1142 makes all documents relating to the valuation of oil and gas leases/lands a matter of public record.

As amended, HB1142 requires companies to make records available to the Department of Revenue which will produce a report showing the total amount of severance tax owed and paid by each company.

HB1155 SEVERENCE TAX FOR ROADS
(Lundberg) 
Position: OpposeStatus: Dead

HB1155 is a rerun of a bill from last year. It proposed to use any severance tax revenues received from oil shale development for construction and maintenance of highways.

HB1169 NET METERING
(Solano, Shaffer) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

HB1169 allows for net metering of electric cooperatives. Unfortunately, the bill was significantly weakened in order to assure passage. It remains a small step forward, and the issue will be back next year.

HB1252 SURFACE OWNERS RIGHTS
(Roberts, Isgar) 
Position: FYIStatus: Signed

HB1252 is a rerun of the surface rights bill from last year. It was further weakened in the Senate. While it is a small step forward in terms of making surface owners whole, its use as a tool to prevent damage up front is very limited.


WATER

SB8 EXPAND EFFICIENCY GRANTS
(Taylor, Curry) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

SB8 remedies a problem created during the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s (CWCB) implementation of the water efficiency grant program. Essentially, the environmental community supported passage of a bill a few years ago creating a fund to administer grants to cities that were required to adopt water efficiency plans. During implementation of the bill, the CWCB required that cities have a plan before they were eligible to apply for a grant to create a plan.

SB13 AUGMENTATION PLANS
(Penry, Pommer) 
Position: OpposeStatus: Dead

SB13 removed the State engineer’s authority to curtail out of priority depletions if the depletions were in compliance with an augmentation plan, even if injury was occurring in spite of the plan. This essentially shifted the burden of proof to the senior water right holder rather than the out of priority appropriator.

SB121 PRODUCED WATER FROM MINING OPERATIONS
(Taylor, White) 
Position: OpposeStatus: Dead

SB121 would have shifted the authority to regulate produced water from the CDPHE to the COGCC for operations receiving water from more than one mine. Since the CDPHE has years of experience in regulating this water, while COGCC would need to hire additional staff to accomplish sufficient regulation it is logical to leave regulation with the CDPHE.

HB1036 EMINENT DOMAIN FOR WATER RIGHTS
(Sonnenberg, Shaffer) 
Position: Neutral-Oppose-NeutralStatus: Dead

As introduced, HB1036 prohibited the use of eminent domain for acquisition of water rights. The Senate amended the bill to be an interim study about whether condemnation of water rights was, in fact, a problem. We were neutral on the bill in both forms. In conference committee, however, it was suggested that the bill only apply to nonconsumptive water rights such as instream flows or RICDs. We oppose any attempt to treat nonconsumptive rights as second tier water rights. Ultimately, the nonconsumptive amendment was not offered, and the bill died when the two houses couldn’t agree on the form of the bill.

HB1038 INVASIVE SPECIES
(Gibbs, Penry) 
Position: SupportStatus: Dead

HB1038 shifts some severance tax money within the Department of Natural Resources to create a fund to provide grants for watershed partnerships for control of invasive species and restoration of riparian habitats. The intent is good, but the specific definitions of control and restoration are very vague.

HB1038 was amended to simply provide some money to the existing program under the Department of Ag. Since the source of funding was severance tax, which proved to be unavailable, the bill died. There will be further efforts next year to secure funding for weed control.

HB1096 CWRRI FUNDING
(Fischer, Bacon) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

HB1096 extends the allocation of severance tax to the Water Resources Research Institute. With the help of some fancy bookkeeping, there will be $800,000 available this year.

HB1150 RENEWABLE ENERGY AUTHORITY
(Gardner C., Kester) 
Position: Neutral in final formStatus: Passed

As introduced, HB1150 created an authority to build a one mile transmission line in Baca County in order to put the energy from a wind farm on the existing grid. In the Senate, the bill was radically altered to create an authority with unlimited bonding capability for any project related to clean energy. There were a plethora of problems with the revised bill. A few of the problems were; the definition of clean energy included large scale, environmentally damaging new hydropower projects, burning every tree and shrub in the state as biomass, no oversight by the legislature for specific projects, and allowing the state to go into debt for projects constructed elsewhere.

After several rewrites, we were ultimately able to fix or delay all the problems in the bill. We will, however, need to continue to closely monitor this authority in the future.

HB1156 DISCLOSURE OF WATER SUPPLY
(Looper, Gordon) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

HB1156 requires real estate contracts to include notification of the water supply for the property. While much less stringent than prior year bills, HB1156 is a good first step.

HB1182 SPECIES CONSERVATION TRUST
(Curry, Isgar) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

As introduced, HB1182 recapitalized the Native Species Trust Fund according to the agreement reached last year. We fully supported replacement of the money in the fund, and the projects listed for funding.

Due to the very bleak severance tax picture, HB1182 was substantially amended in Appropriations. It now contains spending authority for the $3M left in the fund. It also appropriates the money reserved for the underground lab at the Henderson Mine, if Colorado is not selected for the project. Finally, it puts the Native Species Trust at the front of the line for funding in future years (for a total of $20M over 4 years).

HB1197 COUNTY STORMWATER AUTHORITY
(Fischer, Bacon) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

HB1197 allows counties the authority to regulate phase 2 storm water discharge as delegated by the State.

HB1328 PUBLIC EDUCATION ABOUT STORM WATER QUALITY
(Fischer, Veiga) 
Position: SupportStatus: Dead

HB1328 allowed the CDPHE to develop a program to educate the public about storm water quality.

HB1329 CDPHE FEES
(Curry, Boyd) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

The Health department is 20-30 employees short to enforce its existing programs according to a recent EPA audit. HB1329 adjusts fees on drinking water and wastewater permits in order to fund seven additional FTE for permit enforcement.

SJR20 WATER CONSERVATION
(Tochtrop, Witwer) 
Position: SupportStatus: Passed

SJR20 is a project by a young man from Evergreen who attended the CTU conservation camp last summer. SJR20 is his conservation project. The resolution supports water conservation as part of a balanced solution to the water availability issues in Colorado.

HJR1004 RURAL WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
(Gardner, C, Fitz-Gerald) 
Position: FYIStatus: Passed

HJR1004 informs Congress that Colorado supports the Rural Water Infrastructure Act of 2006.

HJR1005 REVOLVING FUND LISTS
(Curry, Isgar) 
Position: FYIStatus: Passed

HJR1005 is the annual appropriation from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund and the Water Pollution Control Fund.


LAND USE

SB89 ANNEXATION
(Tochtrop) 
Position: FYIStatus: Dead

SB89 requires a majority vote of landowners within an enclave prior to annexation of the enclave. This bill has been seen numerous times over the last few years.

SB98 COUNTY SALES TAX FOR OPEN SPACE
(Fitz-Gerald, White) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

The fourth time was the charm for SB98. After failing the first year, and being vetoed the second and third years, the bill was finally signed this year. SB98 allows counties, with voter approval, to exceed the statutory cap on sales tax to acquire open space.

HB1068 SUPERSLAB
(Looper) 
Position: FYIStatus: Dead

HB1068 changed the agreements reached on the superslab last year. On the positive side, it made the environmental provisions a little bit stronger. On the negative side, it removed some of the transparency of the process for affected landowners. Since we reached a reasonable compromise last year, it seemed premature to be reopening the issue.

HB1069 WITHDRAW CONSENT FOR FEDERAL CONDEMNATION
(McKinley, Kester) 
Position: FYIStatus: Signed

HB1069 withdraws State consent for Federal condemnation of property to be used for military training purposes.

HB1139 SEVERANCE TAX/LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
(Curry, Penry) 
Position: FYIStatus: Signed

HB1139 modifies the distribution of the DOLA portion of severance taxes. More money will be available to the most affected communities.

HB1246 MASTER PLANS
(Levy, Tochtrop) 
Position: FYIStatus: Signed

HB1246 allows cities and counties to make their master plans enforceable through regulations if they choose to do so.


MISCELLANEOUS

SB44 REPAY CASH FUNDS
(May) 
Position: OpposeStatus: Dead

SB44 would have required repayment of only certain industry based cash funds which were raided during the budget shortfalls a few years ago.

SB82 CONTINUE HABITAT PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM
(Romer, Gibbs) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

SB82 extends the HPP and its funding source for 10 years.

HB1130 FOREST RESTORATION PILOT PROGRAM
(Gibbs, Fitz-Gerald) 
Position: WatchStatus: Signed

HB1130 creates a pilot program to remove dead trees from urban interface areas. There is good language requiring reforestation, and reintroduction of native species. There is also language limiting harvest to the removal of dead trees and slash. We have reservations about allowing additional harvest; however we recognize the need to protect developed areas and watersheds from catastrophic fire.

HB1220 ENVIRONMENTAL PREFERENCE
(Kefalas, Groff) 
Position: SupportStatus: Signed

HB1220 requires State procurement officers to select environmentally friendly products if the total cost, including reduced operational cost, is within five percent.


That’s it for the 2007 session. I hope everyone has a GREAT interim, and we’ll start gearing up for 2008 in a few months!

Jen