The 2017 Colorado General Assembly:
Important Bills YOU Should Know About; Part 1 of 2
by George Gramlich
This article features information about important bills from the 2017 Colorado Assembly, Representative Jim Wilson’s take on these and if appropriate, the Republican Caucus’s view on a bill, and occasionally, the Sentinel’s view.
We encourage our readers to ENGAGE our representatives with regards to your opinion on these bills BEFORE THEY ARE VOTED ON. Make your voices heard. Contact information for our local representatives is at the end of the article.
The Sentinel will be tracking these bills during the legislative session and will keep you updated on their status. We will also include new bills when they are introduced and track them also.
You can view additional information on each bill, including the whole bill, its status and all the sponsors at: leg.colorado.gov and click on the “Find a Bill” icon.
Colorado House Bills:
HB17-1013 Free Exercise of Religion
House Sponsors: S. Humphrey (R), D. Williams (R)
Senate Sponsors: T. Neville (R), V. Marble (R)
Status: In Committee
Description: Specifies that no state action may burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to a person’s exercise of religion is essential to further a compelling governmental interest and the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest;
• Defines ‘exercise of religion’ as the practice or observance of religion. The bill specifies that exercise of religion includes the ability to act or refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief; except that it does not include the ability to act or refuse to act based on race or ethnicity.
• Provides a claim or defense to a person whose exercise of religion is burdened by state action; and
• Specifies that nothing in the bill creates any rights by an employee against an employer unless the employer is a government employer.
From Representative Jim Wilson: Our Republican Caucus has not met to determine a Caucus position on this bill. My opinion – this is a “statement bill” (a bill that makes a statement with no chance of passing the Democrat-dominated House). I agree with the bill and I believe I have signed on as a co-sponsor. I predict the bill will be assigned to the House State Affairs Committee (the House “Kill Committee”).
HB17-1036 Concealed Carry in Public Schools
House Sponsors: P. Neville (R), K. Ransom (R)
Senate Sponsors: T. Neville (R)
Status: In Committee
Description: With certain exceptions, current law limits the authority of a person who holds a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun by prohibiting permit holders from carrying a concealed handgun on public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school grounds. The bill removes the limitation.
From Representative Jim Wilson: Our Republican Caucus has not met to determine a Caucus position on this bill. My opinion – this is another “statement bill” (a bill that makes a statement with no chance of passing the Democrat-dominated House). I will support the bill, but will not have the chance to hear it because I am sure the bill will be assigned to the House State Affairs Committee (the House “Kill Committee”).
HB17-1042 Increasing Funding For Full-day Kindergarten
House Sponsor: J. Wilson (R)
Status: In Committee
Description: Under existing law, the Public School Finance Act of 1994 funds kindergarten students as half-day pupils plus the supplemental kindergarten enrollment, which is an additional .08 of a full-day pupil.
The bill increases the supplemental kindergarten enrollment for the 2017-18 budget year and each budget year thereafter to .16 of a full-day pupil.
From Representative Jim Wilson: Our Republican Caucus has not met to determine a Caucus position on this bill. My opinion – because it is my bill, Great Bill! No, seriously – this bill addresses the fact that fully funding Kindergarten has been in statute since the recession. The legislature added .08 the first year and has ignored the obligation from that point. I believe we should fund our current obligations before adding expenditures for new programs each year. This bill only increases funding by another .08, but it is a step in the right direction. Funding this obligation would assist school districts (especially rural ones). It will be fun to see how this one plays out…
HB17-1063 Reduce Business Personal Property Taxes
House Sponsors: T. Leonard (R)
Senate Sponsors: T. Neville (R), L. Crowder (R)
Status: In Committee
Description: Under current law, if a business has less than $7,300 of personal property that would be listed on a single personal property schedule, then the personal property is exempt from the property tax and the business is not required to submit a schedule to the county assessor. With respect to this exemption, the bill reduces the amount of personal property tax that businesses pay by:
• Increasing the exemption that applies per schedule from $7,300 to $50,000, adjusted for inflation in the future, which increase will allow more businesses to avoid filing personal property tax schedules; and
• Allowing businesses whose personal property value exceeds the total exemption amount to claim the exemption.
For public utilities that are assessed statewide, the property tax administrator currently considers all of a public utility’s tangible property within the state as a factor in determining the value of the public utility as a unit. The bill modifies the valuation process by:
• Exempting the first $50,000 or an inflation-adjusted amount of personal property from the property tax and excluding it from the administrator’s consideration for valuation purposes; and
• Excluding the exempt personal property from the public utility’s statement of property that it files with the administrator.
From Representative Jim Wilson: Our Republican Caucus has not met to determine a Caucus position on this bill. My opinion – because of giving tax breaks, it may face opposition in the House. I will support the bill because it is good for small businesses. This will a fun one to watch. Both sides of the aisle claim to support small business — we shall see…
Our state representatives contact information:
House District 60 Rep. Jim Wilson: firstname.lastname@example.org, capital phone: 303-866-2747
House District 47 Rep. Clarice Navarro: email@example.com, capital phone: 303-866-2905
Senate District 35 Senator Larry Crowder: firstname.lastname@example.org, capital phone: 303-866-4875
Senate District 2 Senator Kevin Grantham: email@example.com, capital phone: 303-866-4877