The Colorado General Assembly completed their 120-day legislative session in May 2022. This session was a race to the finish – with nearly 700 bills and resolutions introduced. Many late bills were allowed this session, causing a backlog of activity at the end. It is also an election year, which adds additional interest and intrigue to the process.
At the start of the session Move Colorado’s Policy Committee proposed, and the Board approved, a process that outlines how the organization approaches engaging on both legislation and ballot measures. The process details an approach for support or opposition, as well as the level of engagement (i.e.: name only, testify, or financial support, in the case of ballot measures).
The majority of bills Move Colorado’s Policy Committee considered this year were associated with the environment and climate. In those cases, we did not choose to engage, but followed the legislation closely to gain an understanding of their impact on, or benefit to, our transportation infrastructure system.
With regard to transportation funding, the bill to watch was HB1351, which delayed the implementation of last session’s SB260 road usage fee from July- April 2023. Move Colorado’s Policy Committee and Board felt strongly that the General Fund should backfill for any dollars that would be lost during that timeout, which occurred.
The General Assembly also passed legislation to set up a grant funding program for the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” (IIJA). The cash fund will be used as the non-federal match funding necessary for the state or a local government to be eligible to receive federal approval and federal funds for certain categories of infrastructure projects allowed under the federal IIJA.
During the 73rd Session of the Colorado General Assembly Move Colorado tracked 14 bills – we supported three, opposed/sought amendments on one, opposed four, and testified twice (in both cases our position prevailed). Details on the bills and our positions are below. Click the bill name for a PDF summary.
Bill Title: Concerning a requirement that any bill that imposes, increases or authorize the imposition of a fee be approved by two-thirds vote of all members elected to each House of the Colorado General Assembly to become law.
Bill Summary: The bill creates a requirement that any legislation that imposes a new fee, authorizes the imposition of a new fee, increases an existing fee, or authorizes the increase of an existing fee be approved by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the General Assembly to become law. Applying a historical lens, no fee that has been adopted by the General Assembly (specific to transportation the FASTER fee) would have passed with this new threshold requirement.
Rationale: The Policy Committee will continue to watch this piece of legislation, considering action based on the measure’s status following its first committee hearing.
Bill Title: Concerning Programs to Reduce Ground Level Ozone Through Increased Use of Transit.
Bill Summary: The bill creates the ozone season transit grant program (program) in the Colorado energy office (office). The program provides grants to the regional transportation district (RTD) and transit associations in order to provide free transit services for at least 30 days during ozone season. A transit association receiving a grant may use the money to make grants to eligible transit agencies. The eligible transit agencies may use the money to provide at least 30 days of new or expanded free transit services during ozone season. The RTD may use grant money to cover up to 80% of the costs of providing free transit for at least 30 days on all services offered by the RTD during ozone season. Eligible transit agencies and the RTD can use the money to cover lost fare box revenues and to pay for other expenses necessary to implement the program, including expenses associated with an increase in ridership as a result of the program. The RTD and a transportation association receiving a grant are required to report to the office on the services offered and estimates of the change in ridership as a result of the program.
The office is required to establish policies governing the program and to report to the house and senate transportation committees by December 31 of each year of the program. The program is repealed, effective July 1, 2024.
The transit and rail division (division) in the department of transportation is required to create a 3-year pilot project to extend state-run transit services throughout the state with the goals of reducing ground level ozone, increasing ridership, and reducing vehicle miles traveled in the state. The division is required to report to the transportation legislation review committee on the pilot project. The pilot project is repealed, effective July 1, 2026.
Rationale for Support: Move Colorado supports a multi-modal transportation system. This proposal provides an opportunity for transit providers, statewide, to participate in a state-funded program which incentivizes prospective riders with an opportunity to use the system at no cost (for the month of August in the case of RTD, for perhaps longer outside the Denver metro area). The timing is right for this aggressive move that will:
- promote maximizing use of current transit assets and operations,
- test and pilot the benefits and challenges of a fare-free transit system,
- encourage and reconnect with transit customers for recovery of ridership, and
- improve air quality by reducing emissions in the summer peak time.
If successful, this approach may lead to increased understanding of the state’s transit system and its daily benefit, leading to increased long-term ridership. Click here to read Move’s testimony in support of this bill.
Bill Title: Concerning the occupational accident insurance coverage that independent contractors of carriers may acquire pursuant to standards set by the Division of Insurance.
Bill Summary: Under current law, common carriers and contract carriers may use independent contractors for transportation services. The contract must provide for coverage under either workers’ compensation or an occupational accident insurance policy that provides “similar coverage” to that available under workers’ compensation. “Similar coverage” must meet or exceed standards set by the division of insurance and is defined to require benefits that are at least comparable to the benefits offered under the workers’ compensation system. The bill amends the definition of “similar coverage” by repealing this “comparable benefits” requirement.
Rationale for Support: This bill is clean up legislation, providing clarification around the provision of a measure passed in 2018 (SB18-178) which defined occupational accident insurance as being similar to coverage to workers compensation. Safety for all those on our roadways is critical to a sound transportation system. Ensuring independent contractors in the trucking industry – who are often an owner/operator – have access to affordable insurance options increases the likelihood of their participation in obtaining coverage, providing a higher level of protection and safety for all.
Bill Title: Concerning the replacement of the Income Tax Deduction for amounts spent by an employer to provide alternative transportation options to employees with an income tax credit for amounts spent by an employer for that purpose.
Rationale for Support: Bipartisan legislation crafted by Legislative Oversight Committee Concerning Tax Policy. Tax credits are seen as a strong incentive approach. May advance multi-modal transportation use.
Bill Title: Concerning the creation of programs to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicle commuter trips by improving access to alternative transportation.
Bill Summary: For income tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2023, but before January 1, 2030, the bill creates an income tax credit (tax credit) for any employer that: click here to read more.
Rationale for Oppose/Seeking Amendments: Move Colorado believes in actively promoting the use of a multi-model transportation system, and supports a voluntary-based approach that incentivizes both employers to promote, and employees to consider, all modes of transportation as they look to commute to work. As introduced, HB22-1138 includes a list of mandated actions for all employers with more than 100 employees. Sponsors have shared their intent is for this program to be voluntary. Move Colorado seeks the bill be amended, removing any mandates. Should that occur the organization would consider support.
Bill Title: Concerning the governance of the Department of Transportation, and, in connection therewith, modifying the number of members and manner in which members are selected for the Transportation Commission and requiring the Transportation Commission to select the Executive Director of the Department of Transportation.
Rationale for Opposition: Utilizing Congressional Districts to determine representation versus the current Transportation Commission District approach is likely harmful to rural and outstate communities, as it reduces the number of Commissioners by two. Additionally, making these commission roles elected vs. appointed inserts politics into transportation policy, and into a body that has historically worked in a collaborative fashion to address the state’s transportation needs. Further, The Colorado Department of Transportation is a statewide agency and a member of the Executive Branch. Governors should have the ability to appoint members of their cabinet.
Bill Title: Concerning the improvement of the Dispute Review Board stage of the process used to resolve contractual disputes between contractors and the Department of Transportation.
Rationale for Opposition: CDOT is currently in the process of revising and improving the dispute review systems it utilizes. This includes a 50 state best practice study of other DOTs and a 7-state deep dive to gain insight to the approach that will best serve Colorado. CDOT should be given the time to complete its work and implement its findings/new approach. Additionally, this proposal inserts legislative oversight in a highly technical area that requires industry knowledge and expertise.
Bill Title: Concerning monitoring of the use of procurement methods other than traditional design bid build procurement for transportation projects.
Rationale for Opposition: This legislation is unnecessary. SB21-260 included a number of significant changes in the alternative delivery approach CDOT utilizes, putting in place a new standard operating procedure. This process should be allowed to move forward. Further, adding legislators to a procurement process, through the creation of the Committee outlined in the legislation, may add a level of politics into a process that is highly technical in nature.
This post is updated regularly to reflect new positions on proposed legislation. Blog posts with weekly announcements can be found here.