These are all of the Energy and Environment bills proposed in the 2019 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, pros, and cons are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium and Minor. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!).

HB19-1003 Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act [Hansen]

Short Description:

Makes it easier to belong to a community solar garden and increases their maximum size to 10 megawatts. Community solar gardens are solar array with multiple subscribers who can purchase a portion of the power produced and receive a credit on their electric bill. They are designed for people who cannot host solar systems on their roofs.

Long Description:

Changes the requirements for a community solar garden by increasing the maximum size to 10 megawatts (from 2) and removing the requirement that a subscriber’s physical location must be in the same county or in an adjacent county to the solar garden while retaining requirement that it must be within service territory of electric utility. Community solar gardens are solar array with multiple subscribers who can purchase a portion of the power produced and receive a credit on their electric bill. They are designed for people who cannot host solar systems on their roofs.

Arguments For:

A recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory report finds that 49% of households and 48% of businesses are unable to host photovoltaic (PV) solar systems on their rooftops because they rent their spaces or have a lack of suitable owned roof space. Community solar addresses this issue and makes a clean energy option available to more people. The size restrictions in the current program are outdated and restricting users to the county or adjacent county where the energy is generated no longer reflects the reality of solar.

Arguments Against:

Someone who is located near the actual solar garden should not be treated the same way as someone who is across the state from it. Opening up the subscriber base to anyone in the same service area could cause more cost to actually get that solar energy to the end user from across the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1003

HB19-1026 Parks and Wildlife Violations of Law (Coram, Donovan) [Catlin, McCluskie]

Short Description:

Doubles numerous fines for violating state hunting, fishing, and parks statutes and changes where the fine money goes in favor of more money going to the parks and wildlife division.: if a parks and wildlife officer issues the citation all of the money goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division; if a peace officer issues the citation then ½ goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division and ½ to the agency of the peace officer.

Long Description:

Doubles numerous fines for violating state hunting, fishing, and parks statutes (which have not been changed since 2003) and changes where the fine money goes: if a parks and wildlife officer issues the citation all of the money goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division; if a peace officer issues the citation then ½ goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division and ½ to the agency of the peace officer. Previously all fines were split 50/50.

Arguments For:

These fines have not been increased since 2003 and are no longer sufficient to deter violations. The money from them will help the parks and wildlife division increase the number of hunters and fishers in the state and invest more money in state parks.

Arguments Against:

The raises are too high, doubling the amounts after 16 years of no changes is not appropriate. Draining some of this money from local law enforcement may hurt their budgets and may also incentivize their officers to put more focus than they should on catching people breaking these rules so that the local agency can still get ½ of the fine.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1026

HB19-1037 Colorado Energy Impact Assistance Act [Hansen]

Short Description:

Authorizes any electric utility to apply to the public utilities commission to issue low-cost bonds to lower the cost to customers when a power plant is retired by refinancing the retiring plant. A portion of the bond proceeds will go to providing transition assistance to workers and communities affected by the closure.

Long Description:

Authorizes any electric utility to apply to the public utilities commission to issue low-cost bonds to lower the cost to customers when a power plant is retired. To lower the cost of the bonds, the commission is authorized to approve a special energy impact assistance charge on all customer bills (this allows the bonds to achieve at least an AA/Aa2 rating). A portion of the bond proceeds will go to providing transition assistance to workers and communities affected by the closure via a newly created Colorado energy impact assistance authority. Transition assistance includes payment of retraining costs (including apprenticeship programs and skilled worker retraining programs), direct financial assistance, compensation to local governments for lost tax revenue, and similar programs for areas that produced fuel used directly in the closed plant. At least 50% of the funds dispersed by the authority must go to workers.

Before approving any bonds, the commission must hold a public hearing and make specific determinations concerning the necessity, prudence, justness, reasonableness, and quantifiable benefits to utility customers of issuing the bonds. The commission must include instructions on approved bonds for the bond amount, the imposition of the impact assistance charge, and the amount required from the utility for transition assistance.

Alternatively, if a utility needs to close a plant, it may transfer up to 15% of the net of the operational savings generated by the plant closure to the transition assistance authority.


Arguments For:

Colorado’s electric utilities will continue to face the need to retire existing facilities to reduce rates and ensure the health and well-being of Colorado natural environment and residents. But the closure of these facilities may have a direct negative impact on communities where they are located and communities where fuel for them is produced. Colorado energy consumers are still footing the bill for plants that have long since been closed. The alternative financing bond mechanism this bill lays out is similar to what is currently used by more than 20 other states and will result in lower costs to consumers. Using this mechanism on one plant in Florida in 2013 is going to save customers there $700 million over 20 years. Using them can ensure that both the costs of retiring electric generating facilities and the transition costs for affected communities can be financed in a way that reduces the total cost of customer rates. The way to our clean energy future runs through transitioning our communities and our electric utilities. Electricity is now frequently cheaper from renewables than from aging coal-fired plants. This bill is the best way to navigate that tricky road. Xcel has already announced the closure of two coal plants ahead of schedule. The clock is ticking.

Arguments Against:

While well-intentioned, this bill provides positive incentives for utilities to close down plants early (and we are really talking about coal plants here) and could be devastating to both the communities where the plants are located as well as the coal producing areas of the state, beyond the ability of transition assistance funds to meet. Retraining is not some sort of magic bullet for communities that rely on these industries, there is some harm that you can’t spend your way out of.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1037

SB19-034 Local Government Recycling Standards for Food Containers (Moreno) [Arndt]

Short Description:

Allows a local government to set a standard for a retail food establishment’s use of ready-to-eat food containers that may be discarded through recycling or composting.

Long description:

Currently state law preempts local governments from restricting or mandating containers for any consumer products. Allows a local government to set a standard for a retail food establishment’s use of ready-to-eat food containers that may be discarded through recycling or composting. When two local governments with jurisdiction over the same geographic area have different standards, the more stringent is to be used.

Arguments For:

Recycling and composting rules can vary by location, this bill lets local governments set the rules that will best suit their area.

Arguments Against:

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-034

SB19-045 Clarify Radiation Advisory Committee Compensation (Moreno) [Hooton]

From the Statutory Revision Committee

Short Description:

Clarifies that members of the radiation advisory committee are reimbursed for expenses incurred in the business of the committee.

Long Description: n/a

SB19-053 California Motor Vehicle Emission Standards (Cooke)

Short Description:

Prohibits the state’s air quality control commission from adopting motor vehicle emission standards that are stricter than federal standards and from adopting California motor vehicle emission standards and test procedures unless they are the same as federal standards.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This is an unelected board that should not have the right to circumvent the state legislature. It has acted on an executive order from Governor Hickenlooper last year to adopt California’s standards, which will require vehicles sold in the state to average 36 miles per gallon by 2025. The auto industry is already working toward lower vehicle emissions and it is not necessary to force stricter guidelines than those the federal government and federal Environmental Protection Agency deem are proper to ensure an orderly transition to higher fuel economy vehicles. The impact from a rushed move will fall on consumers in the form of higher prices. This is Colorado, not California and we should not be tying our rules to theirs. We have a different way of life here and should not be taking rules and regulations from other states. And certainly not without a vote of our state’s elected state legislature.

Arguments Against:

This move was made because the Trump administration is threatening to lower the federal standards and we rightly worry that accelerated global climate change is a strong possibility of not forcing automakers to get more fuel efficient more quickly. Beyond the devastating potential impacts of climate change, air pollution impacts the economy and impacts our health. The smog that can sometimes hang over the Denver area is something we should all want to get rid of and a prime contributor is air pollution from our cars. Also, this notion that automakers are going to ignore the 40 million people in the 5th largest economy in the world (California on its own would qualify as such) is silly. If California makes these rules, automakers in the US aren’t going to come up with some sort of complicated scheme whereby they can squeak by in California but pollute more in other states. They are going to adjust to the California market, which is also already joined in its potentially stricter standards by 12 other states and Washington D.C.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-053

SB19-054 Military Vehicle Motor Vehicle Regulation (Crowder) [Valdez]

Short Description:

Creates a new category of motor vehicle, demilitarized, and exempts this new category from emissions standards and the requirement to have a physical inspection for roadworthiness.

Long Description:

Creates a new category of motor vehicle, demilitarized, which is a self-propelled vehicle that is purchased for non-military use but was commonly used by the US armed forces to transmit people on highways and was actually built by the US military. Exempts this new category from emissions standards and the requirement to have a physical inspection for roadworthiness.


Arguments For:

This exemption will not apply to vehicles manufactured for commercial sale, so the Hummer for instance would still have to meet emissions standards. Army vehicles can be bought more cheaply than the commercial version. There is even an online auction marketplace. There are also heavy duty trucks available that can be very useful for those living in rural areas. The problem is that these vehicles are not going to be able to keep up with our rising emissions standards. We need to create an exemption so that our hard-working farmers and ranchers can continue to get access to the equipment they need without breaking the bank.

Arguments Against:

This should not be a privileged category. Heavy duty trucks and super SUVs like the Hummer are available for purchase from commercial dealers and if price is a problem, used versions can be pursued. There is nothing magical about a vehicle that used to be used by the armed forces, certainly nothing magical enough to set aside rules that protect our environment and help us combat the potential of catastrophic climate change.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-054