Colorado Kill Blog III
It’s mid-session in the Colorado State Legislature, and numerous bad bills have been dispatched with extreme prejudice by the various House and Senate committees. Here, we revisit the carnage.
SB15-172–High-performance Transportation Enterprise Accountability–Sponsor, Jones (D)
This bill, having something to do with HOV lanes, mass transportation, and inter-agency communications, was presented and passed by Democrat majorities in the House and Senate in 2014, then promptly vetoed by the Governor. One can justifiably surmise that it was vetoed by Governor Hickenlooper in 2014 for the same reason it was killed by the Senate Transportation Committee in 2015, which is its indecipherable language and convoluted objectives. Despite having a relatively small Fiscal Note, it’s best that SB15-172 was quickly dispatched this year, so as to save people the mental torture of trying understanding what the hell it means.
SAVED: $65,000 over 3 years
SB15-174–Uniform Substitute Decision-making Documents Act–Sponsor, Steadman (D)
The term “uniform” is misleading as used in the language of bill since it is asking for irregular, and possible illegal, documents to be recognized where critical decisions are being made on behalf of another party. Documents, such as Power of Attorney or a proxy delegation, created outside Colorado state statutes, could be used in life-or-death decisions for individuals lacking the capacity to decide for themselves. SB15-174 would require Colorado courts to accept any “substitute document” presented in good faith, despite doubts about its authenticity relative to the person in question. Long story short, you could write your Great Uncle Verle’s will on a napkin from Burger King, leaving you his chicken farm and his trunk full of pirate gold, and, if passed, the Uniform Substitute Documents Act, would require the court to accept it as valid.
SB15-174 was taken off life-support in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB15-118–Eliminating Tax Deductions for CollegeInvest for Those with High Incomes–Sponsor, Merrifield (D)
Colorado law allows for payments made to CollegeInvest, a college savings plan, to be 100% tax deductible for all participants. Another benefit of such programs is that certain investment earnings and withdrawals are exempt from being reported as taxable income. This bill would eliminate the deductions for people with incomes higher than $250,000. per year, while increasing the tax deduction for those with incomes less than $75,000. to 200% of what is actually paid into the fund. A cost-shifting measure which punishes “the rich,” this bill would potentially increase state revenues due to the elimination of certain deductions. However, this bill would also harm a private company, CollegeInvest, by increasing its administrative costs, and decreasing an important customer base. The old adage, “If you want less of something, just tax it,” certainly applies here, because eliminating that tax deduction for college savings plans for “the rich,” will surely result in less “rich” people pursuing such a means to fund college for their kids.
SB15-118 was choked out in the State Finance Committee, saving Colorado $169,996.00 in administrative cost over two years.
SB15-120–Electric Grid Modernization Plans–Sponsor, Jones (D)
This bill would force the investor-owned utility companies, and all rural and municipal electric associations working under the major providers, to submit a 10-year modernization plan by the end of 2015. Although this bill sounds like common sense, it’s an unnecessary directive from government since utility companies are already addressing grid modernization, integration, and reliability issues. With heaps of regulation and layers of oversight already in place for Colorado’s PUCs (Public Utility Companies), the last thing they need is another unnecessary piece of legislation written by a state senator who failes to acknowledge that “grid modernization plans” are already in progress.
SB15-120 was electrocuted in the Senate Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, saving the state $288,000.00.
SB15-125–Statewide Registry for Advanced Directives–Sponsor, Steadman (D)
“Advanced directives” are those directions given by aging or terminally ill people, regarding end-of-life decisions, to those charged with ensuring their wishes are fulfilled. These matters are highly personal and extremely private, nevertheless, this bill would create a registry, run by the State of Colorado, into which all advanced directives given by individuals would be “registered” and recorded. The Department of Health and Environment would have to make this registry, filled with personal and highly-sensitive information, available to the public. Colorado county Clerks and Recorders would be tasked with entering the agreements, or advanced directives agreed upon by two or more parties, into a database within 14 days that such an agreement, or advance directive, was drawn up. This bill would increase costs for local governments, which makes it hard to calculate the true cost of this SB15-125. Above and beyond the costs and administrative headaches of implementation, are the dangers of placing into a government registry, private, sensitive facts and data about individuals and their loved ones.
SB15-125 was quietly euthanized in the Senate State, Veteran’s and Military Affairs committee, saving Colorado $163,222.00 over two years, and countless millions to counties over time.
SB15-132–Empowering Students in Higher Education Funding–Sponsor, Todd (D)
This bill suffered from a split personality. One aspect was simple; to include in state education standards of “Financial Literacy,” instruction on how to assess, choose and manage student loan programs. The other side of the bill, not so innocuous, would require the State Department of Higher Education to award money to programs in which students “demonstrate significant academic achievement.” In other words, the Mr. Hyde personality of SB15-132 would use tax payer money to fund programs which pick winners and losers in the student loan market.
SB15-132 was expelled from the the State Senate Education Committee, saving the tax payers of Colorado $5,008,790.00.
SB15-037–Youthful Offenders in Corrections–Sponsor, Garcia (D)
Under current Colorado law, youthful offenders who commit crimes and are incarcerated in an adult facility may be transferred to a juvenile facility, under certain circumstances, until they are 21 years of age. This law would allow criminals up to 24 years of age to be housed in facilities with juveniles. Given that many juvenile facilities house children as young as 12, SB15-037 would almost certainly open the door to older inmates preying upon younger, often emotionally-troubled, inmates. This legislation seeks to address the problems of overcrowding in adult incarceration facilities in the state, but in so doing, the Youthful Offenders bill would be placing older, harder, possibly predatory prisoners in facilities with the most vulnerable of juvenile offenders.
SB15-037 was humanely executed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
This round of legislative slaughter saved Colorado $5695,008.00.
by Marjorie Haun 3/18/15