Peak & Prairie

Rocky Mountain Chapter's
Online Newsletter
April / May 1999

 

THE CAPITOL REPORT

by Sandra Eid, Legislative Coordinator

Good Bills That Were Postponed Indefinitely

 

Sometimes a phrase is used so frequently in a particular setting that it is easy to forget that everyone may not know what it means. One such phrase (adopted by the Colorado legislature to signal the defeat of a bill) is "PI’d" (Postponed Indefinitely). A bill is PI’d when it is killed by a committee instead of being killed on the House or Senate Floor.

Most bills that are PI’d suffer this fate in their first committee, although some (with fiscal impacts) are secondarily dispatched by the Finance or Appropriations Committee. Some bills are passed by the entire House or Senate, then PI’d by a committee in the opposite chamber.

Many unworkable bills are winnowed out by this procedure, however, many good ideas are also squelched-before a majority of the legislators even know that they exist. Following are descriptions of several measures that were supported by the Sierra Club, but PI’d early in the session.

In the area of land use, there were four bills that would have addressed Coloradans’ concerns with growth. SB 107- Local Government Growth Management, sponsored by Senator Pat Pascoe (D-Denver), would have required certain counties, municipalities, and metropolitan planning organizations to designate urban growth boundaries. Drawing lines that would have separated urban land from rural would have ensured more efficient use of public monies for services and infra-structure, and greater preservation of agriculture and open space. SB 107 was PI’d by the Senate Local Government Committee.

SB 157- County Land Divisions, sponsored by Senator Frank Weddig (D-Aurora), would have modified the authority of county commissioners to approve divisions of agricultural land. Placing a cap on the number of parcels that could have been created from a parent parcel would have slowed the disappearance of agricultural land in Colorado. SB 157 was PI’d by the Senate Agriculture Committee.

HB 1177- Limits on Tax Incentives, sponsored by Representative Paul Zimmerman (D-Thornton), would have linked the aggregate amount of tax incentives that could be granted for land development to the tax revenues estimated to be generated by that development. Not allowing the tax incentives (combined state and local) to exceed 25% of the tax revenues would have helped to alleviate the long-term public costs often associated with development. HB 1177 was PI’d by the House Local Government Committee.

HB 1205- Open Space Donation Tax Credit, sponsored by Representative Ken Gordon (D-Denver), would have created an income tax credit for taxpayers who made donations to a qualified non-profit for the acquisition of open-space. Providing tax relief for persons who were unable to donate land, but were able to donate money for the acquisition of land would have increased the opportunities for preserving urban and rural open space. HB 1205 was PI’d by the House Finance Committee.

There were also four bills (from diverse issue areas) that would have enabled Colorado citizens to be more involved in the workings of their government. SB 76- County Initiative and Referendum Measures, sponsored by Senator Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), would have granted to county electors the same powers of initiative and referendum that are exercised at the state and municipal levels. Addressing this gap in citizen empowerment would have provided important tools for the resolution of issues of countywide concern. SB 76 was PI’d by the Senate Local Government Committee.

SB 121- Neighborhood Notice Transportation Projects, sponsored by Senator Alice Nichol (D-Thornton), would have required the Colorado Department of Transportation to provide timely notice to all residents within 500 feet of a proposed construction project. Alerting citizens to such a project would have allowed them to gather information, make comments, and take part in the planning process. SB 121 was PI’d by the Senate Transportation Committee.

HB 1193- Air Pollution Permit Modifications, sponsored by Rep Todd Saliman (D-Boulder), would have authorized a public hearing by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission when requested by a local government. Eliciting public comment about permit applications for modifications to stationary sources (such as power plants) would have produced more information for the Commission’s decision-making process. HB 1193 was PI’d by the House Health, Environment, Welfare & Institutions Committee.

HB 1286- Ground Water Quality Process, sponsored by Representative Ken Gordon (D-Denver), would have encouraged citizens to approach their county commissioners with requests for groundwater protection, and would have required the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to give deference to the recommendations of those com-missioners. Providing an avenue for citizens (with local government endorsement) to seek groundwater protection in certain areas would have facilitated the adoption of site-specific standards that were more stringent than the interim standard currently in effect statewide. HB 1286 was PI’d by the House Agriculture Committee.

One final bill deserves mention as a good idea that was killed too quickly. HB 1120- Environmental Protection Tax Incentives, sponsored by Representative Tom Plant (D-Nederland), would have created a number of tax incentives for fuel-efficient vehicles, mass transit tokens, and telecommuting. Promoting the use of these devices would have helped to reduce traffic congestion and to improve air quality. HB 1120 was PI’d by the House Finance Committee.

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