These are all of the transportation bills proposed in the 2021 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, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about 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.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange or highlighted in yellow. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments; yellow highlights mean conference committee amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Mega, Major, Medium, Minor+, Minor, and Technical. 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!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

House

Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:

MEGA

HB21-1314 Department Of Revenue Action Against Certain Documents PASSED AMENDED

MAJOR

HB21-1186 Regional Transportation District Operation SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB21-1254 Title And Registration Motor Vehicle Regulation PASSED VERY SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED

MEDIUM

HB21-1141 Electric Vehicle License Plate PASSED AMENDED
HB21-1205 Electric Vehicle Road Usage Equalization Fee KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB21-1252 Parker Election Inclusion Or Exclusion From RTD Regional Transportation District KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

MINOR+

HB21-1076 Carpooling Service Internet Application Register Colorado Department Of Transportation SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB21-1139 Driver's License Electronic Renewal By Seniors SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

MINOR
HB21-1024 Title Certificates Off-highway Vehicle Transfers PASSED AMENDED
HB21-1056 Cost Thresholds For Public Project Bidding Requirements SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB21-1073 Support Foster Families License Plate PASSED
HB21-1095 811 Locate Exemption For County Road Maintenance SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB21-1128 Hospice And Palliative Care License Plate PASSED
HB21-1138 Restrict Off-highway Vehicles On Public Roads SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1145 Support Pollinator Special License Plate PASSED AMENDED
HB21-1193 Consumer Protection Supplemental Restraint Systems SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1218 Professional Fire Fighters License Plate Standards SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1219 Nurses Special License Plate PASSED
HB21-1245 On-track Equipment Railroad Crossings SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1291 Insurer Agent Branded Vehicle Title PASSED
HB21-1323 Special Olympics License Plate PASSED

TECHNICAL

HB21-1196 Update Senate Bill 19-263 Effective Date Clause PASSED

HB21-1024 Title Certificates Off-highway Vehicle Transfers (Winter (D), Priola (R)) [Snyder (D), Van Winkle (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $99,309
Fiscal Impact: Negligible increase in revenue each year

Goal:

  • Remove an exemption from requirement to title an off-highway vehicle if it was last transferred prior to July 2014 and remove some barriers to selling these vehicles to dealers.

Description:

The bill would require these vehicles must have a title by July 2022 2023 but they are exempt from sales tax if the transaction occurs prior to July 2022 2023. Dealers are allowed to purchase these vehicles even though they lack title. Dealer must obtain an affidavit from the owner in order to obtain a title after purchase. Authorizes off-highway vehicle dealerships to access department of revenue records to verify vehicle title ownership (same access already allowed to those dealing with on-highway vehicles).

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We created a way to title these vehicles last year but it made it basically impossible to do so if it did not pass through a dealer, so it is time for every off-road vehicle to be able to and to obtain a title. For owners who would rather sell the vehicle, the bill provides a mechanism for them to do so even though the vehicle lacks title.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Let’s give this a bit more time before we bring the hammer down on these older untitled vehicles, to ensure that the new system is absolutely working properly (and to give more time for folks who don’t want to title their vehicle to sell it).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1024

HB21-1056 Cost Thresholds For Public Project Bidding Requirements (Hansen (D)) [Pelton (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Increase the cost threshold for maintenance projects the department of transportation (CDOT) can perform in-house with no bid estimate from $150,000 to $500,000 $250,000 and increases the maximum amount a project can be estimated to cost from $50,000 to $100,000 $150,000 that is exempt from transportation commission approval
  • Remove requirement that CDOT pay its employees at local prevailing wages on projects under $500,000

Description:

In essence, right now if a maintenance project will cost less than $150,000 and CDOT wants to do it themselves, CDOT doesn’t have to prepare an in-house bid. The bill moves that threshold to $500,000 $250,000, which is where it is for all other state contracts done in-house. Right now if a CDOT is going to a do project itself, and it will cost between $50,000 and $150,000 CDOT must get approval from the transportation commission. The bill changes that threshold from $150,000 to $500,000 $250,000. The net effect would be projects under $100,000 $150,000 require no bid estimate and no approval (up from $50,000). Projects between $100,000 $150,000 and 500,000 $250,000 require no bid estimate but do require approval (up from $50,000 to $150,000).

For prevailing wages, this was from a bill passed in 2019 that required all state contracts over $500,000 to pay local prevailing wages. It specifically exempted CDOT from this requirement but required CDOT to adhere to Davis-Bacon Act (federal law) standards. That in effect meant CDOT had to pay local prevailing wages to all of its employees (the Davis-Bacon threshold is $2,000) in addition to contractors. Davis-Bacon always applies to contracts that use any federal money. Bill does require CDOT to use properly licensed electricians regardless of who performs the work.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • It’s hard to get contractors to come to rural parts of the state to do these smaller projects so right now CDOT has to do this but it is hampered by the current ceiling of $150,000
  • It makes sense to align CDOT with the rest of state for state employee compensation, no other department is asked to pay its state employees local prevailing wages. They are paid at levels required in state law. It would be extraordinarily hard to calculate since state employees get benefits. CDOT employees also perform a bunch of different duties at different times, making determining local prevailing wage even more difficult to parse. Contractors will still have to pay prevailing wages

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a big jump in the cap for CDOT doing work itself, it might squeeze out some smaller contractors wiling to do $400,000 jobs
  • The prevailing wage change is a bit confusing, it could be taken to mean that on any project under $500,000 CDOT does not have pay prevailing wages, including to contractors

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1056

HB21-1073 Support Foster Families License Plate (Moreno (D), Kirkmeyer (R)) [Van Beber (R), Michaelson Jenet (D)]

PASSED

Appropriation: $14,145
Fiscal Impact: About $800,000 over next three years, with severely diminishing revenues starting in 2023-24.

Goal:

  • Create a special license plate to be issued to those who donate to a designated foster family support non-profit as well as pay the usual $50 special license plate fee, with $25 covering the cost of the plate and $25 going to the state highway fund. The non-profit must be headquartered in Colorado, in existence for at least four years, been founded by foster parents or former foster parents, have at least one partnership with a Colorado county or city, and provide services to and support for foster families in Colorado.

Description:

The state is to designate one non-profit and review this designation at least once every five years. The non-profit can set a minimum donation amount to qualify and must use donations to support foster families.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • These special license plates are a nice way to raise funds for both the state highway fund and a deserving cause. In this case, programs that support foster families. These families provide a critical role in caring for children when they need it the most and we desperately need more of them in Colorado

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We already have too many of these plates and should not be adding more. The sheer volume of them makes it harder and harder to immediately tell they are Colorado plates.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1073

HB21-1076 Carpooling Service Internet Application Register Colorado Department Of Transportation (Donovan (D), Hisey (R)) [McCluskie (D), Will (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Require all non-profit carpooling internet service owners or operators to register each year with the state. The form to do this must be publicly posted on the state website. By registering they agree that users will not be charged any amount greater than the prevailing IRS mileage reimbursement rate for business use multiplied by miles traveled, that all users will pay an equal amount of the fee for the service, which must be reasonably calculated to cover direct and indirect costs of the service, that each drive make no more than trip each day, and that no more than six additional passengers may be transported at one time. The owner must display on their website in a conspicuous manner that the drivers and vehicles are not regulated by the state. State is not liable for any act or omission by anyone associated with these services.

Description:

Bill explicitly excludes transportation arrangements made with: political subdivisions, taxis, common or contract carriers (like Uber), towing carriers, charter or children’s activity buses, fire crew transport, luxury limousine service, Medicaid client transport, or off-road scenic charters. Carpooling service is defined as a trip that is at least 23 miles from pick-up to drop-off point and any trip to or from a ski area, regardless of distance.

The notification (which is spelled out in the bill) also tells users that background checks may not be performed on drivers, that the drivers are not subject to medical examination and certification, that vehicles are not subject to inspection, and state insurance verification is not performed.

Mileage reimbursement is not considered compensation for tax purposes.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We want people to carpool and these sharing websites like Waze are great for doing so. Non-profits doing this service correctly won’t be affected too much by this, but we can ensure that no entity is actually looking to make money in some way off these services and actually operating something more like Uber or Lyft. These are supposed to be non-profits. Registering gives the state a mechanism to enforce these rules.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Registration may just provide some hassle for the good operators while the bad ones pay lip service. There is no investigation mechanism in the bill and no registration fee to support such activity.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1076

HB21-1095 811 Locate Exemption For County Road Maintenance (Ginal (D), Woodward (R)) [Baisley (R), Kipp (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: May decrease local government costs slightly

Goal:

  • Exempt counties from calling 811 for underground facility marking when they are engaging in maintenance on gravel or dirt roads that does not lower the existing grade or elevation of the road, shoulder, or ditches and will not go deeper than six inches underground.

Description: Nothing to add

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Currently almost anyone who is intending to dig underground must call 811 so that any underground pipes or wires can be marked for safety. These items are usually at a depth of at least 18 inches when they are under county gravel and dirt roads. Most county road maintenance of the type in this bill will not get anywhere close to these underground pipes or cables and it is a waste of time and resources to require 811 services in these cases.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Better safe than sorry, we’d rather spend a little extra time and money marking this stuff than accidentally encounter something not buried as deep as we would have thought while a worker goes a little deeper than intended and causes a break.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1095

HB21-1128 Hospice And Palliative Care License Plate (Hansen (D), Winter (D)) [Michaelson Jenet (D)]

PASSED

Appropriation: $6,907
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal:

  • Creates a hospice and palliative care special license plate. To qualify, people must submit a donation to the Home Care and Hospice Association of Colorado (technically there is a list of qualifications for the non-profit chosen to receive donations but they are written so that no other non-profit could qualify). It also requires two one-time $25 fees, one for the cost of the plate and one to state highway fund.

Description:

The Home Care and Hospice Association may establish a minimum donation amount to qualify.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • These special plates are a nice way to raise funds for both the state highway fund and a deserving cause. In this case, the Home Care and Hospice Association of Colorado works to promote the needs of both those who require home care or hospice and the dedicated professionals who provide it. This includes putting on an annual conference and providing education and educational resources about hospice and palliative care to providers and the general public.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We already have too many of these plates and should not be adding more. In addition, this organization lobbies the state legislature. It is therefore not appropriate to encourage donations to them through an official special license plate.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1128

HB21-1138 Restrict Off-highway Vehicles On Public Roads (Hisey (R)) [McLachlan (D), Catlin (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Clarifies that the law prohibiting the operation of off-highway vehicles applies regardless of what state or jurisdiction the vehicle is registered or titled in

Description:

Keeps the exceptions to this law, which include: if the street is declared open by the operating jurisdiction, if crossing streets or roads, when traversing a bridge or culvert, during special off-vehicle events created by operating jurisdiction, during declared emergencies, for agricultural purposes, and for public utilities for the purposes of meter reading or repair.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This addresses a bit of a potential loophole, it always better to have clarity in our laws

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1138

HB21-1139 Driver's License Electronic Renewal By Seniors (Rankin (R)) [McCluskie (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Change the age limit for requiring signed statements of an eye exam from an ophthalmologist within 6 months of renewing a driver’s license from 66 to 80. That also pulls the requirement for everyone else to attest to having an eye exam within the last three years up from 66 to 80 but the bill changes the requirement to an exam within the previous year
  • Change the rules around renewing by mail and electronically (as opposed to in-person) from either every other renewal (mail) or no more than two renewals in a row (electronic) to anytime so long as the individual’s photo is at least as recent as required by federal law. Also removes the age limit on electronic renewal (was 65), but does require those over 80 to submit their ophthalmologist statement

Description:

Bill also allows those under 18 to get a license with their form attesting to completing the minimum amount of driving experience by their parent, guardian, or responsible adult rather than the person who signed their affidavit of liability.

Federal law requires a new picture every 16 years.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Moving the age limit up for requiring an eye exam makes sense in our modern world, as does getting rid of the cumbersome rules around mail and electronic renewal. If you need a new photo, come in, otherwise we can do this electronically. Testing beyond the eye exam is just beyond the resources of the DMV
  • We already were allowing roughly similar amounts of time in-between in-person renewals: every five years you have to renew. First five, do mail, then do electronic, then mail, then electric, then electronic again. That’s 25 years, so the bill changes nothing in terms of the in-person eye exam: you already have 16 years before you have to come in and get a new photo
  • It is an obvious choice to allow a parent to sign for those under 18 to get their license

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The picture is not the only important thing about the in-person visit, you have to take an eye test as well. And it is all well and good to say that people will swear they’ve had their eyes checked in the last three years, but a lot of people are just going to lie about it. Just because the current system doesn’t force more frequent in-person renewals doesn’t mean we have to keep it that way
  • The reason for having the 65 age cut-off is that we know elderly drivers are more likely to be in accidents. This is not just vision-related. Drivers 65 and older are 16% more likely than drivers 25-64 to cause an accident. But the least we can do in ensure these older drivers aren’t lying about their vision

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1139

HB21-1141 Electric Vehicle License Plate (Bridges (D)) [Hooton (D), A. Valdez (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $91,636
Fiscal Impact: Steadily rising, $380,000 in first year, $1 million by 2023-24

Goal:

  • Create an electric vehicle license plate that is to be the default license plate for all electric vehicles. People can elect to use different plates if they wish, but must then attach a decal to their front windshield that indicates the car is electric. This decal already exists in state law and is provided when the vehicle owner pays the $50 additional registration fee for a plug-in electric vehicle

Description:

People can still get personalized plates if they wish, following the normal procedure.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Awareness of electric vehicles in the state is low, with only 9% of Coloradans being very familiar with them
  • People seeing electric vehicles out on the road will prompt more consideration of buying them, especially as they grow in number
  • Specialized license plates help ensure only electric vehicles are parking in dedicated charging station spots and can help us create electric vehicle only lanes on the road

In Further Detail: A study commissioned by the state energy office found that only 9% of Coloradans felt they were very familiar with electric vehicles and many had difficulty in recognizing electric vehicle models. People are going to buy a car they don’t feel comfortable with. So since we need 940,000 electric vehicles in use on our roads by 2030 to meet our climate plans, we need a way to supercharge awareness. As of last year we only had 30,000. A special license plate will make these vehicles more noticeable, drive awareness of particular models, and show that the technology is advanced enough for widespread adoption. It will also allow us to better enforce electric vehicle charging station parking spot usage, and pave the way for electric vehicle only driving lanes as further incentive for people to switch.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

The future is already coming. GM says it will only sell electric cars by 2030. Ford says it will only sell electric cars in Europe by 2030. Tesla has the highest stock value of any car manufacturer in the world. We don’t need this program

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1141

HB21-1145 Support Pollinator Special License Plate (Jaquez Lewis (D), Simpson (R)) [Kipp (D), Soper (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $22,544
Fiscal Impact: About $100,000 in additional revenue every two years

Goal:

  • Create a special license plate for those who donate to a non-profit that supports the health of native pollinator insects. It also requires two one-time $25 fees, one for the cost of the plate and one to state highway fund. Can get personalized plates through the usual process. State is to pick the non-profit every five years

Description:

To qualify, the non-profit must be a statewide organization headquartered in Colorado in existence for at least five years, help promote the health of native pollinators, help increase native pollinator habitats, help create policies that protect native pollinators educate the public about the value of native plants for pollinators, and help fund educational programs that promote native pollinator biodiversity.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • These special plates are a nice way to raise funds for both the state highway fund and a deserving cause. In this case, protecting pollinators which are critically important to our eco-system but suffering. We had a record number of bee colonies die in 2019, with beekeepers losing 40% of their colonies.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We already have too many of these plates and should not be adding more. This particular plate also does not allow the non-profit to set a minimum donation amount, which could lead to $1 donations qualifying

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1145

HB21-1186 Regional Transportation District Operation (Winter (D), Bridges (D)) [Gray (D), Sullivan (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None, will increase RTD revenue

Goal:

  • Remove a requirement that RTD get 30% of its operational costs funded by fares
  • Remove a cap on the percentage of service RTD can contract out (was 58%) except for fixed bus routes, for which the 58% cap remains. Expand the type of entities RTD can contract with from just private businesses to also non-profits and local governments
  • Change the rules on when RTD can contract with other entities to allow for business and housing at its transit stations by removing requirement that this must not reduce available parking or result in a competitive disadvantage for any nearby businesses. The parking requirement includes residential parking requirements for development
  • Allow RTD to charge for parking at any time (currently can only do so for cars there for over 24 hours, reserved parking, or for cars registered outside the district). Remove requirement that all parking fees be payable in advance and remove requirement that no more than 15% of parking be set aside as reserved. Removes fee amounts for people who violate parking rules or don’t pay (so RTD can set the fees at whatever they want)

Description:

Also requires RTD to include in its annual financial reporting information on annual operating costs, ridership numbers, and operating costs divided by ridership as measures of the cost efficiency of its services.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • All of these recommendations came from the RTD Accountability Committee, which is supposed to help RTD boost ridership and become fiscally sustainable
  • Removing the operating cost/fare requirement allows RTD more flexibility to lower fares to boost ridership
  • Removing the 58% cap gives RTD more flexibility to work with other providers, including Uber and Lyft, to provide some of its services
  • All the other elements of the bill are ways for RTD to increase revenues—parking fees and contracts with businesses and developers. The lack of ability to charge for parking costs RTD millions of dollars each year and the restrictions on development hurt its ability to build out development around its stations to encourage ridership (and get money from those contracts)

In Further Detail: RTD is staring at multi-million budget shortfalls and dropping overall ridership. The changes in this bill aren’t earth-shattering but could help in a bunch of smaller ways that could add up. They were all recommended by the RTD Accountability Committee which was created to try to get RTD into shape. First, right now RTD is constrained by what is called farebox recovery rates, which prevents it from lowering its rates to try to attract more ridership. That could help increase revenues through volume, but of course it might results in some shorter-term losses. It’s important to remember that one of the core goals of RTD is to provide the most rides for the most people at the lowest total cost and to get people off our roads and into mass transit. Removing the 58% cap allows RTD to farm out some of its more expensive requirements and make greater use of services like Uber or Lyft as well as other governments. That would help lower operating costs. Finally, RTD can bring in more revenue through ancillary services. The biggest one is parking. RTD is prohibited by law from charging for parking, a 2016 study found that if the service charged just $1.50 per day to park it could bring in $8.2 million a year in revenues. Parking also impinges on RTD’s ability to contract out (for money) to businesses and developers to build near their stations. Right now that cannot be done if it reduces available parking but RTD estimates it has dozens of stations with excess parking that is not being used very often and the entire point of building housing near mass transit stations is that people have less need for a car to begin with. It also cannot be done if it provides a competitive disadvantage to other businesses which is a loophole big enough to drive a bus through. It’s also a bit of a monopolistic practice, new development in constructed around the state all the time that has the potential to disadvantage existing businesses. This new development could also spur increased ridership.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Lowering fees is a good way to bring in less money—do we have any evidence that this will be made up for in volume?
  • 58% is already a pretty high number, why does RTD need to offload more than 58% of its services? The proposal from the committee included language protecting employees from being laid-off but that is missing from the bill
  • Charging for parking may depress ridership

In Further Detail: If one of the big problems with RTD is that it hemorrhages money, lowering fares seems to be counter-productive way of addressing the problem. There is no evidence that this will be made up for by increased volume and the committee report didn’t even try to argue that this would happen. In fact, this is in direct tension with the idea of charging for parking. On the one hand we are saying RTD does not have enough passengers to warrant the billions poured into creating its infrastructure so we should reduce fares but on the other hand we are saying RTD doesn’t make enough money so it should charge for parking, even though that may depress ridership. The two changes could almost cancel each other out and leave us in the exact same place. On the 58% cap for offloading services, 58% is already a really high number. The committee report did not go into detail on why this is hampering RTD, but clearly the idea is to offload more expensive routes if it is actually more cost-effective for someone else to do it. The committee included language to protect employees from being fired due to lifting this cap but the bill does not. That may make it awfully attractive to RTD to lower costs by firing some employees it no longer needs to operate these routes.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1186

HB21-1193 Consumer Protection Supplemental Restraint Systems (Priola (R), Kolker (D)) [Gray (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Make it a deceptive trade practice to knowingly or intentionally manufacture, import, distribute, sell, or offer for sale a device intended to replace a supplemental restraint system component in a car if the device is counterfeit or a nun-functional airbag. Was already a deceptive trade practice to install or re-install a device instead of an airbag that does not meet federal safety regulations

Description:

Non-functional airbag means a replacement airbag that: was previously deployed or damaged, has an electric fault that the car’s diagnostic system detects, includes a part or object to mislead the owner into believing that a functional airbag has been installed, or is prohibited from being sold or leased by federal law.

Bill also bans installing devices that make the car’s diagnostic system unable to warn that something is wrong with parts in the supplemental restraint system.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Sadly this is a thing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has warned that counterfeit airbags are being used as replacement parts in vehicles that suffer crashes. This is a common adjustment to state laws that are being introduced (or have already passed) all over the country. Our current law is just too vague about the subject

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1193

HB21-1196 Update Senate Bill 19-263 Effective Date Clause (Zenzinger (D)) [Pico (R), D. Valdez (D)]

TECHNICAL BILL

From the Statutory Revision Committee

PASSED

Description: Fixes a technical error in the effective date of lease-purchase requirements in SB19-263.

HB21-1205 Electric Vehicle Road Usage Equalization Fee [Pico (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $2.4 million at full implementation every year (will grow into future)

Goal:

  • Requires the state to collect a road usage equalization fee from owners of plug-in electric motor vehicles at vehicle registration. This is to be $75 and indexed to inflation. Fee revenue goes to state highway fund but can only be spent on maintenance of existing highways and roads

Description:

The state is to convene a working group with the department of revenue and the department of transportation to develop recommendations on what the road usage utilization fee should be in order to create parity between electric vehicles and gas vehicles (which must pay taxes on fuel). Specifically the group must make recommendations on if the fee should be different for personal and commercial vehicles, should vary by vehicle weight, should vary by miles traveled annually, or any other factors. Report due by May 15, 2022.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We have to solve this looming catastrophe. Our roads are funded in large part by taxes on gasoline sales. 63% of the funding for the department of transportation comes from gas taxes (state and federal). But of course electric cars use either little gas (for hybrids) or no gas at all
  • The fee in this bill is just a tiny start on the problem, the real meat is going to come from the recommendation of the working group

In Further Detail: As we move into more and more fuel efficient vehicles and away from gas powered vehicles entirely, we are creating a looming catastrophe for funding our roads. That is because the core of funding for the department of transportation is gas tax revenue, which composed 63% of all funding for the department. We already were in crisis here because the state’s gas tax hasn’t gone up since 1992, putting us further and further behind in our revenue needs. But since electric cars use either very little (hybrids) or no gas, we are rapidly moving toward hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue shortages. Drivers of electric cars pay a $50 fee but not all of that goes to roads and it also not enough to make up the difference. The fee in this bill is just a tiny start on the problem, but the recommendation from the working group to find a way to truly bridge the difference is what we need to ensure our roads stay maintained.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This isn’t some great mystery, we all know the answer but no one wants to step up and do it. We need usage fees based on mileage driven for electric vehicles

In Further Detail: Gasoline taxes work because they scale with how much you drive, the more you do the more tax you pay. The problem with any flat fees on electric vehicles is that they don’t do this at all, and to top things off you are hit with one huge fee once a year instead of spreading the cost out the way we do with gasoline taxes. The entire point behind charging people who drive more higher fees is because they use the roads more. It is the only fair thing to do. So the solution is obvious: base the fee on the odometer. No will track or care where people are actually going. Privacy concerns are a bit silly: we all carry around a device that is a million times more intrusive than this at all times. If we are fine with our cell phones, the government knowing how many miles you drove is not a big deal at all. So we don’t need further study and we don’t need to bring a tiny fee that won’t do much good into being. Rip the band aid off.


Bottom Line:

  • To fight climate change, we need incentives for people to switch to electric vehicles and one of the biggest ones is the money saved on gasoline, a chunk of which is taxes. If we dilute that edge we may harm our efforts to electrify our vehicles

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1205

HB21-1218 Professional Fire Fighters License Plate Standards (Danielson (D), Garcia (D)) [Duran (D), Bockenfeld (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Tweaks the special license plate created last year for professional fire fighters which requires a donation to an entity chosen by the state in addition to being a current or former professional fire fighter. This bill changes the requirements for that non-profit from being in existence for 20 years down to 15 years and requires the non-profit to provide the state with an affidavit that the organization has at least 3,000 members in Colorado

Description:

To get this plate you have to be a current or former firefighter and donate to the chosen non-profit organization.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The way these license plate bills are written they cannot pick a specific non-profit for donations but usually there is one in mind (thus the extremely specific requirements). This just tweaks the requirements to ensure that we are getting the correct non-profit and that they are in fact meeting the 3,000 member requirement.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We already have too many of these plates (and there already is one for fire fighters). We shouldn’t have created this one in the first place.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1218

HB21-1219 Nurses Special License Plate (Moreno (D), Buckner (D)) [Esgar (D), Mullica (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Technical

Appropriation: $17,490
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal:

  • If a nurses foundation can obtain commitments for the purchase of at least 3,000 license plates, to create a special license plate to honor nurses. Requires a donation to the foundation that the foundation determines a minimum amount for but cannot exceed $100. It also requires two one-time $25 fees, one for the cost of the plate and one to state highway fund.

Description:

The nurse foundation that gets the commitment can design the plate, so long as it meets state standards.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • These special plates are a nice way to raise funds for both the state highway fund and a deserving cause. In this case, the nurses of our state, who do so much for us in all times, but especially during the pandemic. And better still, the bill is set up to only execute if we have enough demand for the plate to make it worthwhile

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We already have too many of these plates and should not be adding more

Bottom Line:

  • Other special plates don’t have to go through this initial proving process, we just create the plate. Our nurses should not be treated differently

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1219

HB21-1245 On-track Equipment Railroad Crossings (Ginal (D), Hisey (R)) [Sullivan (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Require drivers to stop at railroad crossings to look for any equipment on the railroad tracks, not just trains

Description:

Current law specifically states in all of these safety provisions dealing with crossings that trains are what drivers must be on the lookout for or stopping for.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is pretty simple: trains aren’t the only thing that can operate on train tracks so at track crossings what we really need to be instructing for is looking out for something on the tracks, not just trains

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1245

HB21-1252 Parker Election Inclusion Or Exclusion From RTD Regional Transportation District [Ransom (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: RTD could lose or gain revenue depending on what Parker decides

Goal:

Allow the City of Parker to vote on if it wants to be all in or all out of the RTD district. Currently 17% of Parker is in RTD.

Description:

Allow the city of Parker to vote on if it wants to be all in or all out of the RTD district. Currently 17% of Parker is in RTD, the rest is not. The bill does not put a Yes/No measure on the ballot, but requires instead two questions, one for inclusion and one for exclusion, and gives two different mechanisms for them to appear on the ballot: either by voter signature petition (5% of voters required), or for Parker’s government to adopt resolutions to put the questions on the ballot. Election must be part of a regular local district election for Parker (next opportunity is this November). Ballot questions must contain the current sales and use tax rates levied by RTD.

If Parker votes to exclude itself, this must be done by the earlier of: date upon which any RTD securities were obtained with the help of Parker funds are repaid by RTD or 2051. RTD sales taxes can continue until that point so long as service continues at least 50% of the Parker sales tax proceeds and does not use any Parker money for future debt obligations.

RTD’s sales tax rate is currently 1%.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The current arrangement is a terrible one for Parker, which only has two RTD bus lines and both them recently had their service cut. Parker pays about $11.5 million to RTD in taxes and only gets $3.4 million worth of services. Castle Rock voted to leave RTD in a similar manner in 2005. This puts the issue to the voters with the concept that if Parker wants to stay in RTD, it needs to go all-in, so as to increase the amount of service RTD will provide. The reason for the long delay in getting out is that it is required by law: RTD has debt obligations that involve Parker sales tax money

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The cuts were very much related to the pandemic and the understandable enormous drop in RTD ridership. Parker is becoming more and more integrated with Denver as the gaps in-between the two continue to be gobbled up by new development. By 2050 it’s probably that instead of being considered an exurban town Parker is considered a core Denver suburb. It would therefore be shortsighted to leave Denver’s public transit system and instead it would be better to work on improving Parker’s relationship with RTD. The reason to not put this in front of the voters is that frankly voters sometimes have trouble making real long-term decisions like this requires. The voters could decide to get out of RTD with no replacement set-up and Parker could then be left without public transportation of any kind

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1252

HB21-1254 Title And Registration Motor Vehicle Regulation (Priola (R), Winter (D)) [A. Valdez (D), Larson (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Very Significant

Appropriation: $160,200
Fiscal Impact: $14.5 million in additional revenue each year at full implementation

Goal:

Fund the proposed electronic vehicle registration system through taxes and fees collected on people who do not properly register their vehicle within 90 days of moving to the state. Enforce the requirement that people properly register their vehicle within 90 days of moving to the state and require people to pay prorated taxes and fees from the date they moved to the state. Resulting money is to be used to put money in the state's DRIVES system (driver's licenses), bridge enterprise fund, and the state highway fund and the state is directed to lower registration fees for everyone as well. Fiscal note estimates net effect at full implementation will be $14.5 million in additional revenue, but this includes $43.7 million less from reduced overall fees

Description:

Require the state to create an electronic vehicle registration system once it has enough funds (right now it is optional) and create a special fund to hold any money collected through gifts, grants, or donations (it could also be appropriated funds by the legislature). This system cannot start until it has enough money to do so and currently does not.

Adds some detail to the process for people moving to Colorado from out-of-state to register their vehicles. Bill requires them to provide documentation of their previous registration and if they are registering outside the required 90 day window from their move to Colorado (this is already required by law), they must document when they moved to the state and pay prorated taxes and fees from the date they moved to the state. If they are registering within that 90 day window, this requirement is waived. These fees are credited to the special fund created for the electronic vehicle registration system until it has enough money to be built state's DRIVES fund and then to the bridges enterprise fund. Then the money goes to the state highway fund.

Also requires full payment of taxes and fees to get a third temporary registration number (this is allowed under certain circumstances currently). If the vehicle’s sale is never consummated, then the person gets a credit on those taxes and fees toward the registration of their next vehicle which expires after 12 months.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We need to fund this system if we ever want to have it, and a slight crackdown on people who are evading the legal requirement to register their vehicle in the state within 90 days of moving here is a good way to do it. Right now there is a no-harm, no-foul approach to that 90 day requirement. If we are going to have a rule, we should have a way of penalizing people who break it. As a bonus, we get a funding stream for the electronic system. This is superior to SB076’s approach which will certainly get passed on to all consumers instead of just targeting those evading the law
  • We also have a multi-billion transportation backlog in the state that is only going to be partially (and temporarily) alleviated by stimulus money. While the bill may help cause a TABOR refund in two years, that may happen regardless if the economy bounces back strong and is not a reason not to do this. As for the yet to be introduced bill addressing transportation funding, every little bit is going to help here. And the fiscal note is assuming something that is not in the bill text: that the state will require everyone who registers late to pay the fees, not just people who move to the state so it might be wildly off at the moment. We have some of the highest registration fee of any state in the country and the bill should help lower those in the future by bringing in this extra revenue

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • SB076 has a competing way to fund this program, with a $3 fee on third-party providers who will benefit from the system (they are allowed to pass this on to consumers)
  • This is overkill for the problem of the electronic system and will result in huge inflows of money each year to the state. In fact, the fiscal note estimates this will help trigger a TABOR refund in 2022-23. There is another solution coming in this legislative session to our transportation funding problems that will not affect TABOR at all and thus not trigger any refunds

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1254

HB21-1291 Insurer Agent Branded Vehicle Title (Winter (D), Priola (R)) [Van Winkle (R), Exum (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Currently insurers or a salvage pool authorized by an insurer who has declared a vehicle a total loss can get a salvage or nonrepairable title for the car if the owner refuses to cooperate. The bill simply allows agents of insurers to do the same.

Description:

Currently insurers or a salvage pool authorized by an insurer who has declared a vehicle a total loss can get a salvage or nonrepairable title for the car if the owner refuses to cooperate. The bill simply allows agents of insurers to do the same.

Bill keeps the law’s current requirement that at least two written attempts must be made to obtain the title from the owner.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Pretty simple quality of life bill for insurers who aren’t given any new power or authority by this bill, just an easier way to exercise what they already have that in no way fundamentally changes the status quo for anyone else

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1291

HB21-1314 Department Of Revenue Action Against Certain Documents (Moreno (D), Rodriguez (D)) [Herod (D), Gray (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $1,197,778
Fiscal Impact: About $4 million a year in lost revenue

Goal:

End having your license suspended or revoked for failing to pay court debts of any kind, outstanding warrants for traffic violations, failure to pay judgment for using public transportation without paying fare, and several crimes related to driver’s license and plate fraud, stealing cars, and underage possession of alcohol or marijuana.

Description:

Repeals the department of revenue’s ability to revoke or deny or deny renewal of a driver’s license for:

  • Misuse or fraud associated with driver’s license, titles, permits, or license plates
  • Failure to register all vehicles owned by the licensee
  • Failure to pay outstanding judgment
  • Outstanding warrant for any traffic violation
  • Municipal violation committed when a minor
  • Failure to pay judgment for using public transportation without paying the fare
  • Conviction of crimes related to underage possession of alcohol or marijuana and failure to complete court ordered alcohol assessment or education or treatment program. If the individual did not complete court mandated evaluation, assessment, or treatment programs than their license can still be suspended
  • Conviction for aggravated motor vehicle theft or 2nd degree criminal trespass
  • Juvenile delinquency related to aggravated motor vehicle theft or 2nd degree criminal trespass

Repeals ability to suspend a driver’s license for conviction of giving alcohol to a minor or failing to prevent a minor from using their identification to obtain alcohol.

State is to annually appropriate $1.8 $1.4 million dollars of marijuana cash fund money to help replace the lost revenue. An additional $250,000$211,000 is appropriated this year to pay for the changes required to implement the bill and another $691,500 next year. Adds an additional $25 fine to those convicted of DUIs to also help replace lost revenue. Fee is waivable if the person can demonstrate they are indigent.

Bill creates a study group to study methods to encourage people who receive a traffic citation and do not show up in court to pay their judgment. This includes evidence-based and national best practices but cannot involve threatening someone's license. Must review current municipal practices to find what works, study cost of implementing improved systems to encourage people to show up in court and for collection for those that fail to appear, and make any legislative recommendations. Report due to legislature next year.

Additional Information:

Study group contains seven members: representative of Colorado department of revenue appointed by that department's director, representative of the Colorado state patrol, representative of statewide association representing municipal court judges, representative of statewide association representing cities, representative of statewide organziation representing chiefs of police, and representatives of two statewide organizations advocating criminal justice or sentencing reform.

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Driving is a necessity for many people to work
  • We currently suspend licenses for things that have nothing to do with bad driving, last year 90,000 of the 457,000 license suspensions for not paying unrelated court debt. This is in essence a poor tax
  • If your license is suspended and you have to work to earn a living or go to a court-mandated appearance, what are you supposed to do? What people do is drive anyway, risking further trouble for driving on a suspended license
  • Multiple other states have recognized the foolishness of this setup and passed similar laws. It is not believe this change will have any noticeable impact on people’s willingness to pay or not pay court debt

In Further Detail: Driving is a necessity for most people living in Colorado to work. And right now we suspend driver’s licenses for reasons far beyond bad driving. We suspend licenses over court debt, in essence, a poor tax. So if you have your license suspended, for whatever reason, and you must drive in order to get to work and earn a living, what are you supposed to do? What if you have court-mandated appearances? There were 457,000 people who had their license suspended in Colorado last year. The state patrol says 90,000 of those were for not paying off unrelated court debt. And then we have all of the folks for traffic violations. We have to think about proportionality here: not having a license is a huge deal. Is it worth removing someone’s ability to legally drive over a traffic violation? Many of these folks will be shot into a downward spiral of poverty and who knows what else if they cannot drive so they drive anyway, risking further trouble for driving on a suspended license. Many other states have recognized the foolishness of this process and passed similar laws. This issue has been studied (and of course implemented elsewhere) and there is no belief it will have any significant impact on collection of court debt. So the idea that this is some sort of incentive we would lose, as Arguments Against suggests, is not borne out by the data. The lost revenue, by the way, is pretty much entirely from losing the fees we charge to reinstate licenses (yet another barrier for the poor removed).

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We have to try to collect the debts people owe us, and one way to do that is hold out negative incentives if they don’t pay up. One of the most powerful is a driver’s license
  • There are alternative transport options in many parts of the state and people can get rides to necessary events like court appearances
  • Some of the removals do in fact deal with driving

In Further Detail: We have to try to collect the debts people owe us, and one way to do that is hold out negative incentives if they don’t pay up. One of the most powerful is a driver’s license. As Arguments For notes, having a license is a big deal and the threat that if you don’t pay the debt you owe you might lose your license is a powerful one. There are alternative transport options in many parts of the state for those that need to commute for work. And some of the removals here do in fact have to do with driving—stealing cars, fraud with licenses or plates, and traffic violations. Again, the idea is we want people to pay the debts they owe. No one is losing their license over just one traffic violation, the key word here is outstanding, as is not paid yet. And let’s not handwave $4 million in lost state revenue each year or lost local revenue from these fees. That money is going to come out of something.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1314

HB21-1323 Special Olympics License Plate (Fenberg (D), Rankin (R)) [Cutter (D), Amabile (D)]

PASSED

Appropriation: $13,460
Fiscal Impact: Negligible each year

Goal:

Create a Special Olympics license plate available for those who pay the $50 fee to the state and donate money to the Special Olympics.

Description:

Creates a Special Olympics license plate for people who make donations to a non-profit designated by the state. Every five years the state must review and pick a non-profit that has been in existence for at least 40 years, provides year-round-training and athletic competitions for people with intellectual disabilities, and is located in Colorado (yes, this is the Special Olympics). Donation must be between $60 and $100, but the exact amount in that range can be determined by the Special Olympics. It also requires two one-time $25 fees, one for the cost of the plate and one to state highway fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • These special plates are a nice way to raise some extra funds for the state highway fund and in many cases, like this one, promote giving to a good cause like the Special Olympics.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We already have too many of these plates, we don’t need to be adding more

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1323

SB21-069 License Plate Expiration On Change Of Ownership (Priola (R)) [A. Valdez (D), Ortiz (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $855,260
Fiscal Impact: Negligible each year

Goal:

  • Requires new license plates for passenger cars, non-commercial light trucks, and motorcycles when the vehicle’s title or interest in the motor vehicle is transferred. Get a new car, you have to get new plates. People can get plates in retired styles (like the old green retired plate style) if the state determines there is enough interest and people are willing to pay the costs of making the plate. Maximum cost is $75, with $25 to go to the Laura Hershey Disability Support Fund (maximum of $50)

Description:

People with personalized plates can get the same customization on new plates but the bill does add the ability for the state to deny customizations that were previously approved if the state determines it is misleading, duplicates another registry, or that it carries connotations offensive to good taste or decency.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We have too many cars on the road that are not properly registered and have old, dull plates that are hard to read. Forcing new plates when a vehicle is transferred will help with both of these problems

In Further Detail: Studies show an unacceptably high number of vehicles on the road in our state are not properly registered, including lacking insurance coverage and emissions testing. In addition to contributing to revenue shortfalls from associated registration fees, law enforcement and public safety officials rely on readable and reflective plates for safety and plates are often the only highly reflective element on vehicles, an important safety feature for stalled vehicles at night. On average, plates lose 50% of their reflectivity within 5 to 10 years of use. We can also now go back to the classic Colorado plate design thanks to new technology, so if people want them and are willing to pay, we can let them. This program will phase-in new plates over time, improving registration compliance and all of the problems already mentioned here, without large amounts of money spent or inconvenience for drivers.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • People violating the law may just find ways to keep violating it
  • This cost may be small, but it is still additional costs to getting a vehicle in the state

In Further Detail:

People who are already violating the law with improperly registered plates and all the rest may just ignore this law too by keeping their old plates in violation of the requirement to get new ones when they purchase a vehicle. And while the cost is very small, $4.73 for a regular plate and $25 to renew personalized plates or special plates, it is still a cost that must be borne by Coloradans.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-069

SB21-076 Fund Electronic Third-party Vehicle Transactions (Scott (R), Bridges (D)) [A. Valdez (D), Larson (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $2,025,945
Fiscal Impact: Likely to net out to zero assuming reimbursement of start-up costs

Goal:

  • Creates a $3 fee that third-party providers of our proposed electronic vehicle registration system must pay per transaction. State is to adjust this fee as needed so as to raise $1.6 million by July 2023. If the state falls short, it must adjust the fee so as to raise the remained by the end of 2023. These transactions include issuing or transferring a title certificate, issuing or renewing a registration, and a transaction that does both. They are allowed to pass the fee on to consumers.

Description:

The system is proposed because it cannot start until it has enough money to do so, and it currently may only accept gifts, grants, and donations but has not received any. So it has no money at all at the moment.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We need to adequately fund this system if we ever want to have it working for Coloradans. Fees are the only one to secure consistent funding

In Further Detail: Nothing in life comes for free, and this small fee will ensure we can have a functioning electronic vehicle registration system in Colorado

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-076

SB21-084 Local Government Authority Roughed-in Roads (Smallwood (R)) [Gray (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Allow local governments to prohibit operation of trucks and commercial vehicles on unfinished roads.

Description:

Allows local governments to prohibit operation of trucks and commercial vehicles on unfinished roads. They already have the power to do so on designated highways.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • An unfinished road can easily be damaged by heavy vehicles, causing the local government and its taxpayers increased cost. That concern outweighs the need for anyone to go off-roading for fun or cut some time off a commute.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • In some remote areas of the state an unfinished road may be the most direct way for someone to get from point A to point B, including work or home. If they drive a truck, then they are being banned from using this direct path and may have to go far out of their way.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-084

SB21-110 Fund Safe Revitalization Of Main Streets (Zenzinger (D), Priola (R)) [Herod (D), Exum (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: $30 million from the current budget year
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

  • Transfer $30 million from the current fiscal year budget to state highway fund for use only for the Revitalizing Main Street and Safer Streets funds.

Description:

The Revitalizing Main Street fund is to help communities to alter their transportation and public space structures so as to open up more opportunities for COVID-safe activities. The Safer Streets fund is to support safety and accessibility along urban roads, especially for people who do not use cars.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Both of these funds have been tremendous successes in ways that will reverberate long after COVID and we have excess funds from our current budget year, a massive amount actually, around $1.8 billion
  • Both are focused on quick delivery projects, which helps boost our economy immediately as we continue to try to recover economically from COVID—and mostly provide transportation infrastructure project funding that is desperately needed
  • There is an enormous backlog of projects to make our streets all over the Front Range corridor safer, which will reduce accidents and potentially save lives. The Safe Streets project alone has identified about $27 million of projects that it had to waitlist after it expended all of its available funding

In Further Detail: First, the good news. The budget shortfall for our current year was not as bad as anticipated, thanks in part to the massive stimulus measures from the federal and state government. To the tune of $1.8 billion dollars. This is about much more than just temporary measures to get through COVID. The Main Street Fund has been used to create outdoor facilities that can be used in bad weather all over the state, which will provide increased economic activity long after we are able to sit down inside restaurants normally again. One such example is a winter village park on the 16th Street Mall in Denver, with outdoor seating, dining, and retail space. The Safe Streets project has already tapped $50 million in funding to improve the safety of our roads—which frequently get short-shrift to more massive capacity building or infrastructure replacement projects. And they’ve got a backlog of around $27 million more. Finally, COVID is not over yet. So the degree to which we can quickly spend money to make it easier for people to properly socially distance while participating in activities that bill boost our economy remains important. We have plenty of money left after this bill to repay our schools and restore various large-scale funding cuts.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The bill does not distinguish between the two funds and given that Safer Streets has a backlog, it is reasonable to assume it will grab the majority of the money
  • Safer Streets is basically a metro Denver-only fund, so we may leave vast parts of the state out of this new spending
  • The danger from COVID is nearly passed. Vaccines are proving to be incredibly effective in stopping severe cases and appear to extremely effective in stopping spread. We are a few months away from basically normal activity

In Further Detail: First, it is important to note that the two funds given access to this money are very different. Main Street funding can go pretty much anywhere in the state. Safer Streets funds have to go to the greater Denver metro area. Even other large cities like Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Grand Junction, Fort Collins, and Greeley cannot get these funds. So given that Safer Streets has an already identified backlog, it is reasonable to guess that most of this new money will go to the Denver metro area by default. That is not fair to the rest of the state. And in terms of COVID, we are nearly there. The vaccines are great and all of the information from all over the world suggests they do a good job of preventing transmission and nearly eradicate the more dangerous cases that result in hospitalization or death. So we are just a few months away from more normal activity and will not necessarily need all of this outdoor stuff in the future.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-110

SB21-165 Colorado Department Of Transportation Project Procurement Methods (Scott (R))

KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible each year

Goal:

  • Requires the department of transportation (CDOT) to use a competitive invitation to bid public bidding process for contracts unless it finds it is not feasible to do so and soliciting the contract through alternative methods are likely to cause the project to be completed more efficiently through faster, lower cost, or higher quality execution
  • Bans CDOT from considering a bidder’s lack of past experience on CDOT projects if it can demonstrate through construction projects for other states or local governments in Colorado. This ban extends to pre-qualification lists

Description:

Other procurement methods CDOT is authorized to use by law include: competitive sealed best value bidding (don’t have to automatically pick least expensive option), integrated product delivery (involve everyone at all stages of project), public-private initiatives, and design-build contracts (contractor designs the project). Bill requires CDOT to publicly disclose why it chose the contractor in integrated product delivery and public-private situations.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Traditional bidding was all CDOT did for a long time and ensures the state has in-house project design expertise and is picking the least expensive viable bid
  • Traditional bidding also ensures an open process where anyone can get the bid, rather than reliance on the same few mammoth companies, many of which are from out-of-state
  • We should therefore only stray from traditional bidding when necessary and when we will save money on the alternative process
  • Experience is experience and should be treated as such, whether with CDOT or some other agency

In Further Detail: The traditional form of bidding, where the state designs a project and then selects the lowest responsible bidder was what we did in this state for years. It ensures the state has in-house expertise to design projects so as to not be reliant on outside sources for engineering and project expertise and ensures we are picking the least expensive option which generally saves the state money. It also ensures an open process where any company can get the bid rather than a focus on the same mammoth companies, many of which are from out-of-state. So the bill first requires the state to use traditional bidding unless there are situations where it can’t and the project will come in cheaper via another method. And then to ensure a level playing field, requires CDOT to consider experience as just experience, regardless of whether it was with CDOT or some other agency.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The requirement that traditional bidding must be impossible flies in the face of wanting to save the state money
  • Sometimes the cheapest option is in fact not the lowest-cost option over the long-term: you can get what you pay for
  • Experience working together is more valuable

In Further Detail: The bill requires that BOTH traditional bidding be not feasible and the state save money through another form of bidding. That means that if the state could save money through another form of bidding but traditional bidding was feasible, the state still has to do traditional bidding. That flies in the face of the idea of saving the state money and instead seems to more about getting certain contractors the work, those that would struggle to earn the bid in any other scenario. Because sometimes the cheapest bid is in fact not the lowest-cost option, which is what all of these other procurement methods are about. Value over the long-term can save more money than you lose with the upfront loss through a higher construction cost. As for experience, direct experience working together is more valuable than experience gained not working together. You get to know idiosyncrasies and work habits and most importantly you know that things are done to your standard, not someone else’s.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-165

SB21-238 Create Front Range Passenger Rail District (Garcia (D), Zenzinger (D)) [Esgar (D), Gray (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible savings this year, everything else is down the road

Goal:

To create a transportation district along the I-25 corridor to support a future passenger rail train line. This district would be given the power to ask voters for sales tax increases (maximum of 0.8%) to fund itself and can also issue bonds. Any constructed train line would have to interconnect with existing RTD lines, Amtrak lines, and any future I-70 mountain corridor lines.

Description:

Creates the Front Range Passenger Rail District (FRPRD), which in essence includes the entire I-25 corridor in Colorado. Specifically, all of Larimer and Weld counties that are in metropolitan planning organizations (federally funded transportation organizations) and for the parts that aren’t, must be north of Fort Collins and located wholly or partly within 5 miles of I-25; all of Huerfano, Las Animas, and Pueblo counties within metropolitan planning organizations and for the parts that aren’t, must be located wholly or partly within 5 miles of I-25; all of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, El Paso,  and Jefferson counties within metropolitan planning organizations; and all of Broomfield and Denver counties.

This district is setup similar to RTD in that it is not a state agency and its purpose is to develop and maintain transit systems inside the district. In the case of FRPRD, it is solely concerned with an interconnected passenger rail system that is competitive in terms of time with other surface transportation. This is to consist of one main north-south line from at least Pueblo to Fort Collins but perhaps more, that interconnects with RTD transit, Amtrack’s southwest chief, California Zephyr, and Winter Park trains, and any passenger rail system serving the I-70 mountain corridor. The bill states that the preferred path is one that runs through Boulder then goes back toward I-25.

The district is governed by a board of directors appointed by a mix of the governor, metropolitan planning organizations, and the department of transportation with optional non-voting members from neighboring states and railroad companies (see Additional Information for board breakdown). Board members are not compensated but can receive per diems.

The board has the power to approve rail routes and station locations, but must collaborate with local governments on these. It can buy land and trigger eminent domain actions, establish fares and other user fees, refer ballot issues to levy taxes (maximum of 0.8% sales tax) or issue bonds, enter into public-private partnerships and agreements with all entities, including other governmental entities, hire employees, and enter agreements with anyone for creating retail or commercial enterprises or for creation of residential facilities at or adjacent to rail stations (subject to local zoning). Board will be in charge of selecting train technology and safety standards, which of course must be consistent with federal and state law.

Before asking for any tax increase, the board must publish a proposed service development plan, an operating plan, and a detailed finance plan. It must also certify that it made every effort to secure federal funds first. If the voters approve any taxes, the state auditor is to audit the authority every two years.

The bill also allows for cost-sharing arrangements between RTD and FRPRD for new lines.

FRPRD has the power, with local government approval, to establish station area improvement districts to finance the construction, operation, or maintenance of a station. Maximum of 2 mile radius around the proposed station site. The majority of the property owners within the proposed district must approve as must either the majority of registered voters in the area or 1,000 voters (whichever is less). For all ballot issues district must pay any extra costs counties incur for having the issue on the ballot and the district is forbidden from using its public money to urge or oppose passage of a ballot issue.

The bill ends the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger rail commissions and folds any existing rights, obligations, or liabilities of those commissions into the FRPRD, including any money those commissions currently have.

All board meetings must be conducted in public with live broadcasts as practicable and reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities. All meetings must be recorded and made publicly available. The bill provides no mechanism for meeting in private in executive session. Board decisions are made with a majority vote except for referrals for tax measures to the voters and that it can add additional advisory non-voting members to the board, both by a 2/3 vote. Senate can remove a board member by a 2/3 vote.

Additional Information:

FRPRD has power to enter onto land to conduct surveys, borings, soundings, and examinations, including land owned by the Union Pacific Railroad or BNSF Railroad.

Board has power to set terms of any issued bonds. It can also invest its money in similar manner to other quasi-governmental agencies. All district income is tax exempt.

Board members must recuse themselves from matters in which they have a conflict of interest. Board is composed as follows. Six members appointed by governor and confirmed by Senate. one must be a representative of organized labor and one must be a representative of a conservation organization with expertise in transit-oriented land use planning. Must collectively have experience in transportation or public finance, supporting a statewide employee organization, passenger rail development or operations, and environmental conservatism. At least one must be a resident of a city/county where RTD FastTracks was approved but not constructed (this is the line that is supposed to up to Boulder).

Eight 10 members appointed by metropolitan planning organizations and approved by the Senate. Each organization that represents more than 1.5 million residents appoints three four (Denver), each metropolitan planning organization that represents more than 750,000 500,000 but less than 1 million residents appoints two (Colorado Springs and the North Front range district), the North Front Range district, Pueblo, and South Central council appoints one each.

The final voting member is appointed by the executive director of the department of transportation and is not Senate confirmed.

The Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railroad, and Amtrak can appoint one non-voting member each if they want. RTD must appoint one non-voting member. Wyoming and New Mexico and each appoint one resident as a non-voting member if they want. Also one advisory non-voting member appointed by board of directors of I-70 mountain corridor coalition.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The estimate is that a train running from Fort Collins to Pueblo would serve nearly 10,000 people a day, removing them from I-25 and saving 94 tons of greenhouse gas (every day)
  • Amtrak is envisioning future expansion with a line from Pueblo to Cheyenne and the proposed federal infrastructure bill that is the next priority for the Democratically controlled federal government includes $80 billion to expand rail in the country
  • Even without federal money, the bill provides provisions to raise funds with voter approval for the massive initial investment required, and then the operation is supposed to operate like RTD with fares and other revenue streams helping finance ongoing operations
  • Unlike RTD, this is just one train line. Much simpler and should avoid many of the financial pitfalls RTD faces. Ability to share costs could actually help RTD finish expansion to Boulder and Longmont as long promised
  • Voters have the final say on any tax increases

In Further Detail: We’ve actually already studied this issue, at least in terms of a line that ran from Fort Collins to Pueblo, and the estimate is that such a train would serve nearly 10,000 people a day and nearly 3 million a year. Imagine taking all of those people off of I-25: first, just the sheer congestion and second, that’s 94 tons of greenhouse gas saved each day. This is with projected fares of $22 for a one-way ticket from Colorado Springs to Denver. The next part of this is critically important: Amtrak has released a map of what it envisions the rail network would look like in 2035 and it includes a line from Pueblo to Cheyenne. Given that there is also an existing Amtrak line that goes through La Junta and on to Albuquerque, it makes sense to extend the map for the proposed district in this bill beyond Fort Collins all the way to the state’s northern border and beyond Pueblo to its southern border. It is also very much possible that we could see federal funding for this line: President Biden’s massive infrastructure proposal, which is the next priority for the Democratically controlled federal government and can pass through the Senate by bypassing the filibuster, has $80 billion to expand and improve Amtrak and our freight rail network throughout the country. By no means does this bill count on these federal funds, with voter approval the FRPRD could bring in sales taxes to help make the initial massive investments required ($5 billion is the estimate), but after that the idea is similar to RTD: fares help support the train’s operation and unlike RTD, we are talking about just one train line: no busses, no requirements to provide transport throughout the district. That will make operational costs much simpler and likely avoid many of the pitfalls that have plagued RTD’s finances. The ability to share costs with RTD will also make it much more likely that the long-awaited extensions to Boulder and Longmont will actually finally get built. The most important thing to remember: voters in these counties will still have the final say on this. The bill simply provides the structural ability to make it happen at all.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Past experience indicates these projects come in way over budget and don’t deliver the promised levels of ridership
  • Similar trains in other western states don’t move the needle much on congestion relief (and neither does 10,000 people on the proposed line in the bill) because we simply don’t have the density to support such modes of transit. This requires being able to get where you need to go at your destination without a car
  • RTD, which does have more difficult operating constraints but is a similar basic concept, was in enormous financial difficulty even before the pandemic with declining ridership and multi-million annual budget deficits. We don’t need a second RTD headache to solve
  • We are better off investing in clean energy and electrification, including of cars

In Further Detail: It seems like we’ve heard this particular song before, when constructing the now massive light rail network in Denver: it is going to cost X amount and be done in Y years. And then someone the cost ends up doubled and the promised ridership doesn’t appear in as large numbers as promised. RTD projected $335 million to complete its West line and said it would carry just over 29,000 passengers a day. Instead it cost $707 million and just under 14,000 riders per day (still better than the $5 billion/10,000 rider promise the Pueblo to Fort Collins line is promising). Utah has a train between Provo and Ogden (81 miles) that cost $2.4 billion. It gets less than 17,600 riders per day. New Mexico has a train between Santa Fe and Albuquerque that cost $385 million and gets less than 3,000 riders per day. In fact, train after train system outside the Northeast tells a similar story: not enough people riding it to justify the massive costs. And think about it: first, if you are going to take the train you have to be able to get from the train station to wherever you are going and then get around without a car. Otherwise no one would take a train, they’d just drive. Second, how many people actually have to commute from even Colorado Springs to Denver? The bottom line is that outside the dense Northeast passenger rail trains don’t make much sense unless we are talking about high speed bullet trains that in essence replace air travel. That of course is not what is under proposal here. And it is also very much worth bringing RTD into this discussion, even though the proposed district would not have a lot of the requirements that make it harder for RTD to breakeven. The simple fact is that even before the pandemic RTD was in serious financial difficulty. It has seen its ridership drop over the five years prior to the pandemic and it was only covering 23% of its costs pre-pandemic and therefore facing annual multi-million budget shortfalls. Mass transit is really hard in sprawled and low density environments and that’s just what Colorado is. We are better off trying to attack climate issues through massive investments in clean energy to power electricity and then electrifying our greenhouse gas emitters like automobiles.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-238

SB21-253 Women Veterans With Disabilities License Plate (Zenzinger (D), Danielson (D)) [Carver (R), Michaelson Jenet (D)]

PASSED

Appropriation: $5,481
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal:

Create a special license plate for disabled female military veterans and allow them to get one vehicle plate free of charge (special plates are usually $50), with the usual fees applying to any subsequent plates.

Description:

Certain special license plates must be given free of charge for one vehicle (the usual $50 total fees apply for any additional vehicles). This adds a special license plate for female veterans with disabilities. Applicants must have been honorably discharged and must submit either a DD214 form from the federal government or other evidence to demonstrate their honorable discharge.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Disabled veterans can get their special plates without a fee, this is a way to specially honor our female disabled veterans so it is clear that not only is this car a disabled veteran’s car, but a disabled female veteran’s car

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • There is no reason to single out female disabled veterans in this manner separate from male veterans. We already have too many special license plates anyway, we should just stick with the one disabled veteran plate

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-253

SB21-260 Sustainability Of The Transportation System (Fenberg (D), Winter (D)) [Garnett (D), Gray (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $550 million this year, of which $380 million is federal money, more in future years
Fiscal Impact: Beyond appropriations, loss of about $20 million this year, then gain of about $125 million next year, $195 million year after that, and $3.5 billion over next ten years

Goal:

Raise $3.5 billion over ten years through a variety of new fees.

About $1.5 billion through new usage fees on gas (in effect raising the gas tax) with an extra $0.08 per gallon by 2031. Hundreds of millions through new registration fees on electric and hybrid vehicles, with electric vehicles costing $96 by 2031 and hybrids $27 to register. Spend $402 $420 $380 million in state federal stimulus money this year, $170 million in state stimulus money this year, and at least $115 million each year thereafter through 2031 in general fund money. All of this goes to state highway users fund, state highway fund, and multimodal transportation fund.

About $1.2 billion raised through a new fee on retail deliveries, with a $0.27 fee per delivery charged to the consumer in the same way as sales tax. Hundreds of millions raised through a new per ride fee on transportation networks like Uber or Lyft, with a $0.30 fee on non-electric and non-pool rides and $0.15 on electric or pool rides (again treated like sales tax). For the most part, these fees go to fund several new enterprise programs designed to help the state electrify its transportation, which includes building charging infrastructure, helping electrify vehicle fleets (like delivery fleets), public transit and individual vehicles.

All fees gradually rise to their 2021 levels beginning in 2022 and are tied to inflation past 2031.

The bill also repeals a ballot question for the 2021 ballot that would have asked voters to approve a bond initiative for $1.3 billion for transportation needs, eliminates a reduction in the TABOR revenue cap due to a piece of legislation in 2017, and allows for the creation of regional transportation planning organizations which can ask voters to raise taxes in their area to fund transportation needs in their area (RTD is an example of such a organization).

Description:

This is in essence at least 10 separate bills and perhaps 15 all in one massive bill. So we are going to do this a bit differently. Each separate “bill” will have its own header and section both here and in Additional Information. Because the new retail delivery fee and per ride fee impact multiple proposed (and one existing) enterprise, we will discuss them first, then refer again to them where appropriate. An enterprise program is exempt from TABOR, so any revenue brought in by the enterprise does not count toward the state’s annual TABOR cap (which triggers a refund to taxpayers if the state brings in more revenue than the cap). If you are interested in the total revenues, there is a section at the end of the Description that describes total revenues under the bill. Where appropriate, each sub-section has its own revenue information as well.

Retail Delivery Fee and Per Ride Fee

The retail delivery fee is charged to any tangible personal property delivered by a motor vehicle to a physical address in Colorado. Much like sales tax, it is passed on the consumer and then remitted to the department of revenue. In 2022-23, the fee is $0.084 for existing funding streams for state transportation, $0.027 for the bridge and tunnel enterprise (already exists but is called just bridge enterprise right now), $0.053 for the clean fleet enterprise, $0.069 for the community access enterprise, $0.03 for the clean transit enterprise, and $0.007 for the air pollution mitigation enterprise ($0.27 total). After 2022-23 each separate fee is tied to inflation and only adjusted when inflation is positive and will result in an increase of at least $0.01 (bit complicated here and looks like drafting error, but right now the consideration is clean fleet+air pollution mitigation, if those are adjusted then others can also be adjusted, except bridge and tunnel text says all together). Maximum of 5% increases regardless of actual inflation (same as interest calculation). Any deliveries of property that is exempt from state sales tax is also exempt from this fee. $75.9 million raised through this fee in 2022-23.

The Per Ride fee is charged to any prearranged ride through a digital network. Again like sales tax, passed on to customers and then remitted to the department of revenue. In 2022-23, the fee is $0.0375 for rides in a zero emissions vehicle or for car share rides (riders agree to be transported with other separate riders going to other destinations even if another rider doesn’t actually end up being in the vehicle) for the clean fleet enterprise and $0.1125 for the air pollution mitigation enterprise ($0.15 total) and $0.075 for all other prearranged rides for the clean fleet and $0.225 for the air pollution ($0.30 total). Thereafter it is tied to inflation and only adjusted when inflation is positive and will result in an increase of at least $0.01 (cumulatively with both fees considered). Maximum of 5% increases regardless of actual inflation (again cumulatively). $9.7 million raised through this fee in 2022-23.

Restore Referendum C Cap, Associated Appropriations, and Raise Gas Tax

Creates a road usage fee, which is to be added to each gallon of gas sold (on top of the gas tax) of $0.02 a gallon in 2022-23, $0.03 in 2023-24, and an increase of one cent per gallon each year until we reach $0.08 in 2028-29. Then it stays at the level until 2032-33, at which point it is tied to inflation (using $0.08 in 2030 as the baseline). It’s a bit tricky here but the bill also ties the existing gas tax to inflation at that point. The gas tax is $0.22 a gallon and the bill adds whatever the inflation is for the $0.22 to the usage fee (again based on $0.22 in 2030). The exact same operation is applied to special fuels (diesel engine fuel, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, and natural gas), which pay an excise tax instead of the gas tax but it’s the same amount, $0.22, right now. $60.1 million raised in 2022-23 through this usage fee. The fiscal note estimates the usage fees will actually cause a decrease in gasoline consumption and so bring in less money each year through the main gas tax (the usage fee is being treated separately), but that could also occur simply due to more widespread adoption of electric vehicles. In any event, the estimate is a $100,000 decrease in gas tax revenue each of the next two years. That nets out to a $60 million increase. This jumps to $91.8 million the next year.

Distributors do not have to pay the special fuel usage fee if they are exporters delivering exclusively to another state or if they already do not have to pay the excise tax thanks to other existing state law.

As a reminder the retail delivery fee also has money going toward these existing funds. This portion is to be divided up with 71.9% going to the state highway fund and 28.1% to the multimodal transportation and mitigation fund (see below for more detail on changes to this fund).

Reverts a change in 2017 that set the TABOR revenue limit lower. This was part of a deal in 2017 that removed a certain hospital provider fee from state revenues by making it an enterprise program. In exchange, the TABOR revenue cap was lowered. By removing that provision, this bill resets the TABOR revenue cap about $225 million higher in 2021-22 and in later years the TABOR limit will be revised as required by the constitution based on that higher amount.

Repeals a scheduled $50 million transfer of general funds to the state highway fund every year through 2040 and replaces it with multiple larger transfers (all from general fund): $329 $347 $331 million million to the state highway fund, of which $161 million is federal stimulus money, $24 $36.5 million to the highway users tax fund, $128 $161.3 million to the multimodal transportation and mitigation fund from federal stimulus funds, and $8 $21.6 million in federal stimulus money to the revitalizing main streets program in the state highway fund ($550.4 million total). Then next year a transfer of $12 million to the highway users tax fund. And starting next year, every year through 2031 a transfer of $10.5 million to the multimodal fund, $7 million to the revitalizing main streets program. There’s still more. Starting in 2024 and then every year through 2031 2028, $82.5 $100 million to the state highway fund, of which $5 $10 million a year must be spent on mitigating environmental and health impacts of increased air pollution from motor vehicles in areas where air quality does not meet federal standards by funding projects that reduce vehicle miles traveled or directly reduce air pollution. From 2029-2031, $82.5 million each year to the state highway fund. From 2024 to 2031, $10.5 million to the multimodal fund and $7 million to the revitalizing main streets program. Starting in 2022 through 2026, at least $115 million and at most 50% of the excess revenue allowed by lifting the TABOR cap (as done above), with 94% going to the multimodal fund and 6% to the revitalizing main streets program.

Change Registration Fees and Impose Electric Vehicle Fee

Ties the existing $50 registration fee for electric vehicles to inflation, with a maximum increase of 5% a year. Adds a new electric vehicle road usage fee beginning in 2022-23 which is also due at registration. This includes hybrids but the fee structures are very different. For pure electric vehicles this begins at $4 in 2022-23, then increases each year, more gradually at first with $4 annual increases until it reaches $16 in 2025-26. Then $10 increases each of the next two years to reach $36 in 2027-28, then $15 each of the next four years to reach $96 in 2031-32. For hybrids, it starts at $3 in 2022-23, then alternates between increasing by $2 and by $3 each year up to 2031-32 at which point it is $27. At that point both fees are tied to inflation with maximum increases of 5% a year. Obviously this starts small, just $300,000 in additional revenue in 2022-23. The fiscal note does not go very far into the future, and obviously wide-spread adoption of electric vehicles is an unknown variable. The official state roadmap is 940,000 electric vehicles by 2030. Assuming no hybrids in that count, that would bring in $90 million at the full $96 fee level. Of course there will be a concurrent plunge in gas but that is extremely difficult to estimate. As a point of reference, right now we bring in $322 million in gas tax revenue each year. Note that the fiscal note expects slight declines even with the increase in the tax, though that might reverse as we get farther out and the full $0.08 additional fee comes online. Remember also that doing nothing would cause declines in gas tax revenue simply through more electric vehicle adoption and ever increasing fuel efficiency standards.

State is to create a pilot program that allows these two usage fees to be paid quarterly on an automated basis.

Also creates a commercial electric vehicle usage fee which is simpler: it is $50 for vehicles over 10,000 pounds but less than 26,000 and $100 for vehicles more than 26,000 pounds. Also starts in 2022-23 and is tied to inflation, again with the maximum 5% increase per year. The fiscal estimate for this is tied in with the other electric vehicle fees.

All of the revenue from these new usage fees goes 70% to the highway users tax fund and 30% to the state highway fund.

Reduces the road safety surcharge on vehicle registration (which goes to the bridge and tunnel enterprise) by $11.10 between 2022 and 2023 and by $5.50 between 2022 2023 and 2024. This will cost the state $33 $49.5 million a year at full implementation (but it is temporary).

Community Access Enterprise

Creates the Community Access Enterprise, which is a TABOR exempt enterprise. Its purpose is to support the widespread adoption of electric motor vehicles by directly investing in transportation infrastructure, making grants or providing rebates or other financing options to fund the construction of electric motor vehicle charging infrastructure throughout the state, and incentivizing the acquisition and use of electric motor vehicles and electric alternatives to motor vehicles in communities. This must include disproportionately impacted communities and owners of older, less fuel efficient, and higher polluting vehicles.

Community access enterprise is to implement grant, loan, or rebate programs to fund construction of electric motor vehicle charging infrastructure that includes:

  • Public, workplace, transportation network company, and multi-family applications
  • Chargers for communities, including disproportionately impacted communities
  • Chargers for medium and heavy duty vehicles, including electrified refrigerated trailers
  • Infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell vehicle power
  • Networks and plazas of direct current charging infrastructure that offers fast charging

Grant, loan, and rebate programs also implemented for providing inexpensive and accessible electric alternatives to motor vehicles like electrical assisted bicycles and scooters, support adoption of electric vehicles including incentivizing replacement of high-emitting cars, and to provide incentives to transportation network companies and companies to that rent to them to increase access to overnight charging ability for drivers.

Enterprise also to work with the state’s energy office and department of transportation to develop rules for the air quality commission to consider in furtherance of the enterprise’s purpose.

Enterprise can issue bonds, hold property, employ people and contract with third parties, and seek and accept gifts, grants, and donations (so long as they are less than 10% of total revenue which is required for enterprises). Board consists of seven members who are not compensated but can be reimbursed for expenses.

Enterprise must engage regularly on its projects and activity with the public, especially from disproportionately impacted communities and interest groups that are likely to be interested in its projects and activities. It must create a ten-year plan by June 2022 and post it on its website. This plan must include amount of funding needed. Then in 2032 it must create a new ten-year plan. It must also create and maintain a public accountability dashboard on its website that provides information on implementation of the plan, funding status and progress on each project, and per project and total funding and expenditures. Must report annually to the legislature.

As a reminder, the enterprise is funded by solely by its portion of the retail delivery fee.

Clean Fleet Enterprise

Creates the Clean Fleet Enterprise, which is a TABOR exempt enterprise. Its purpose is to incentivize and support the use of electric motor vehicles by businesses and governmental entities that own or operate fleets of motor vehicles, including situations where the vehicles are owned by individual contractors (like Uber or Grubhub). This can include compressed natural gas vehicles powered by recovered methane as well. This is to involve grant programs, rebate programs, revolving loan funds, or other such strategies the board finds effective, to:

  • Help public and private owners and operators of motor vehicle fleets finance electric vehicle acquisition, and if electric vehicles aren’t available in the heavy-duty models required by some, natural gas trucks so long as at least 90% of the fuel for the trucks will come from recovered methane
  • Assess and implement cleaner mobile source technology to support electrification of vehicles and fleets
  • Coordinate engagement with public entities and owners and operators of motor vehicle fleets to develop strategies for electrifying fleets
  • Research and assess innovative and emerging emission strategies for motor vehicles and engines and modernize and improve current testing, inspection, and readjustment services offered by the state
  • Provide training and development of a clean transportation workforce to support adoption of electric vehicles in fleets
  • Research and develop strategies, business plans, and guidance to support the consistent application of grants and other business services, including remediation services
  • Provide outreach, education, and training to support the successful application and performance by entities receiving funds
  • Provide or support the delivery of companion services such as fleet testing, inspection, or readjustment services
  • Address non-attainment of national air quality standards before even stricter measures are necessary that would impose burdens on fleet businesses
  • Address community exposure, including disproportionately impacted communities, and resulting Reduce health disparities from fleet operations in impacted communities
  • Help companies that maintain fleets and rent vehicles in those fleets to drivers to purchase or lease electric vehicles
  • Help transportation network companies provide incentives for their drivers to use electric vehicles
  • Provide additional remediation services to fee payers including incentivization of clean mobile equipment, planning services to support communities, and provide scrappage services

Enterprise also to work with the state’s energy office and department of transportation to develop rules for the air quality commission to consider in furtherance of the enterprise’s purpose.

Enterprise can issue bonds, hold property, employ people and contract with third parties, and seek and accept gifts, grants, and donations (so long as they are less than 10% of total revenue which is required for enterprises). Board consists of 9 members who are not compensated but can get reimbursement for expenses.

Enterprise must engage regularly on its projects and activity with the public, especially from disproportionately impacted communities and interest groups that are likely to be interested in its projects and activities. It must create a ten-year plan by June 2022 and post it on its website. This plan must include amount of funding needed. Then in 2032 it must create a new ten-year plan. It must also create and maintain a public accountability dashboard on its website that provides information on implementation of the plan, funding status and progress on each project, and per project and total funding and expenditures. Must report annually to the legislature.

As a reminder, the enterprise is funded by its portion of the retail delivery fee and its portion of the per ride fee. The enterprise must ensure that during the first ten fiscal years of collections, expenditures that support transportation network company operations equal or exceed cumulative per ride fee revenue (remember that revenue is coming from people using those transportation network companies, like Uber).

Clean Transit Enterprise

Creates the Clean Transit Enterprise, which is a TABOR exempt enterprise. Its purpose is to reduce and mitigate the adverse environmental and health impacts of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions produced by motor vehicles making retail deliveries by supporting replacement of gas-powered vehicles with electric-powered vehicles, providing the associated recharging infrastructure for electric transit fleet vehicles, supporting facility modifications that allow for the safe operation and maintenance of electric transit motor vehicles and funding planning studies that enable transit agencies to plan for electrification of vehicles.

Enterprise can makes grants, loans, or rebates to fund: clean transit planning efforts, facility upgrades and construction of charging infrastructure for public transit providers, and replacement of gas powered motor vehicles with electric motor vehicles for public transit providers.

Enterprise also to work with the state’s energy office and department of transportation to develop rules for the air quality commission to consider in furtherance of the enterprise’s purpose.

Enterprise can issue bonds, hold property, employ people and contract with third parties, and seek and accept gifts, grants, and donations (so long as they are less than 10% of total revenue which is required for enterprises). Board consists of 9 members who are not compensated but can get reimbursement for expenses.

Enterprise must engage regularly on its projects and activity with the public, especially from disproportionately impacted communities and interest groups that are likely to be interested in its projects and activities. It must create a ten-year plan by June 2022 and post it on its website. This plan must include amount of funding needed. Then in 2032 it must create a new ten-year plan. It must also create and maintain a public accountability dashboard on its website that provides information on implementation of the plan, funding status and progress on each project, and per project and total funding and expenditures. Must report annually to the legislature.

As a reminder the bridge and tunnel enterprise also collect a portion of the retail delivery fee.

Change Multimodal Transport By Adding Mitigation

Renames the existing multimodal transportation options fund into the multimodal transportation and mitigation options fund. Expands the mission of the fund to include reducing emissions of air pollutants, including hazardous air pollutants and greenhouse gasses, that contribute to adverse environmental effects and adverse human health effects. Allows the fund to spend on greenhouse mitigation projects, which are defined as a project that helps obtain compliance with federal or state laws or rules that regulate transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by reducing vehicle miles traveled or increasing multimodal travel.

Removes existing rules on how money given to the fund must be spent (85% for local multimodal projects and 15% for state multimodal projects right now). Allows the state to exempt local projects on an individual basis from current matching funds requirements.

Appropriates $2.5 million to the fund in 2022 for front range rail.

Non-Attainment Area Air Pollution Mitigation Enterprise

Creates the Non-Attainment Area Air Pollution Mitigation enterprise, which is a TABOR exempt enterprise. Its purpose is to mitigate the environmental and health impacts of increased air pollution from motor vehicle emissions in non-attainment areas (areas where the air quality does not meet federal standards) by providing funding for projects that reduce traffic, including demand management projects that encourage alternatives to driving alone or that directly reduce air pollution, such as retrofitting construction equipment, construction of roadside vegetation barriers, and planting trees along medians. To be eligible, a project must either be eligible for federal highway mitigation funding or reduce emissions of air pollutants or greenhouse gas pollutants.

Enterprise is to award grants. It must actively seek input from communities, including disproportionately impacted communities, and local governments to mitigate environmental and health impacts of highway projects, reduce traffic congestion, and improve neighborhood connectivity for communities adjacent to highways.

Enterprise can issue bonds, hold property, employ people and contract with third parties, and seek and accept gifts, grants, and donations (so long as they are less than 10% of total revenue which is required for enterprises). Board consists of 7 members who are not compensated but can get reimbursement for expenses.

Enterprise must engage regularly on its projects and activity with the public, especially from disproportionately impacted communities and interest groups that are likely to be interested in its projects and activities. It must create a ten-year plan by June 2022 and post it on its website. This plan must include amount of funding needed. Then in 2032 it must create a new ten-year plan. It must also create and maintain a public accountability dashboard on its website that provides information on implementation of the plan, funding status and progress on each project, and per project and total funding and expenditures. Must report annually to the legislature.

Change Bridge Enterprise to Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise

Changes the existing Bridge Enterprise to the Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise. Expands the scope of the enterprise to include tunnel projects that are part of the state highway system.

Creates a new fee on special fuels which is to be added to the excise tax of $0.02 a gallon in 2022-23, $0.03 in 2023-24, and an increase of one cent per gallon each year until we reach $0.08 in 2028-29. Then it stays at the level until 2032-33, at which point it is tied to inflation. This is in addition to the already discussed same $0.08 road usage fee. Distributors do not have to pay the special fuel usage fee if they are exporters delivering exclusively to another state or if they already do not have to pay the excise tax thanks to other existing state law. $15.8 million raised through this fee.

As a reminder the bridge and tunnel enterprise also collect a portion of the retail delivery fee.

Transportation Planning Organizations

Allows cities and rural regions within transportation planning organizations to exercise the powers of a regional transportation authorities, which includes the power to impose charges, fees, and with voter approval, visitor benefit, sales, and use taxes to generate transportation funding. The state is prohibited from considering these authorities and any revenue they are raising when it determines the amount of state transportation funding to be allocated to the areas inside these transportation planning organizations. Doing this requires at least two public hearings prior to adopting a resolution authorizing these enhanced powers.

Adopting resolution must specify the regional transportation systems to be provided and the boundaries of the territory where the transportation planning organization can use their enhanced revenue generation power. This cannot include territory that is not in the transportation planning organization. Cities and counties can opt-into these boundaries if they are excluded.

Repeal Ballot Question on Transportation

Repeals the 2018 law that would have put a ballot measure on the 2021 ballot which would have authorized the department of transportation to issue transportation revenue anticipation notes (TRANs) for $1.3 billion with maximum repayment amount of $1.9 billion. Repeals the current plan of using lease-purchase agreements on buildings (which the 2021 ballot issue would have replaced). There was one final $500 million set of agreements set to be executed next year.

Projects to Increase Transportation Capacity Requirements

Requires the state to propose to the air quality commission procedures and guidelines that require the department of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations to take additional steps in the planning process for transportation capacity projects to account for the impacts on the amount of statewide greenhouse gas pollution and statewide vehicle miles traveled that would result from the project.

Commission to create guidelines and procedures and these must require same level of analytical scrutiny of greenhouse gas pollutants as other pollutants in the state, otherwise reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and consider role of land use to reduce vehicle miles traveled. For any regional project (based on federal definitions), the state must model air pollutant impacts for the project including actual monitoring and measurement where feasible, develop a construction plan that includes timely public alerts when pollutants exceed certain levels, and develop and implement a plan to mitigate air quality impacts on communities, including disproportionately impacted communities.

State must review, update, and improve as necessary its public engagement program for these types of projects with an eye on creating diverse and impactful ways to gather community input around the state in multiple languages and formats.

Revenue

The expectation is that this bill will increase revenue in the state by $3.8 billion over the next ten years. Some of this, the vehicle registration fees and gas tax fees for instance, is subject to TABOR, and some is not (all of the enterprise related fees). By 2023-24 (the latest year the fiscal note analyzes) the bill is expected to bring in $200 million in additional revenue.

Other

The bill also does two things to the short-term rental fee (less than 30 day rentals, fee already exists and is $2). First it indexes it to inflation (with no maximum increases like the other indexes in the bill) and second, it requires car sharing programs to collect the fee on any of their short-term rentals that are longer than 24 hours (think Zipcar or Turo). This is a daily fee and will bring in $900,000 in 2022-23 and $2.4 million in 2023-24.

Unless different methods are required by law, requires those same three agencies to use a maximum discount rate of 2.5% when calculating the social costs of greenhouse gas pollution and use the most recent federal estimate of the cost per ton.

Studies and Reports

The bill requires the state energy office, the department of public health and environment, and department of transportation to collaborate annually on a report to the legislature on progress being made toward the electric vehicle adoption goals of the state (940,000 by 2030). First report due in 2023.

Requires the public utilities commission to conduct a study to assess whether there is parity between certified taxi carriers and transportation network companies (like Uber) with respect to their contributions to the funding of the transportation system. The study must be done in 2022 so as to assess the new per ride fees on transportation network companies (which taxis do not pay). Commission must take into account any relevant differences in business models, regulatory burdens (taxis are much more regulated), and impacts on the sustainability of the transportation system. Report due during 2023 interim (between 2022 and 2023 sessions).

Requires the department of transportation to study the feasibility of implementing a road usage charge program. This involves looking at other states, identifying and assessing available technology for tracking mileage, identify barriers to implementing a road usage charge program and options for overcoming these barriers, and identify ways to coordinate with other states who have road usage charge programs to leverage their expertise. Report due during 2023 interim.

Requires the department of transportation to study issues relating to the development and adoption of autonomous motor vehicles (self-driving cars). Study must summarize the current status of technology and the extent of its use, provide an estimated timeline for future advancements and adoption, summarize the anticipated safety benefits and risks, identify any modifications or additions that existing infrastructure may need as well as the timeline and costs of such modifications, and identify and summarize any legal issues related to autonomous motor vehicles. Study due during 2025 interim.

In 2026 the state energy office, department of transportation, department of public health and environment and all of the enterprises in this bill must write a joint report on their progress for the legislature. Report must detail all projects completed and identify projects expected to be completed in next five years. It must additional recommendations for general fund money and if all of the new fees on electric vehicles need to be adjusted to maintain the goal of parity between electric vehicle owners and gas-powered vehicle owners (who pay the gas tax) when it comes to transportation funding.

Additional Information:

Retail Delivery Fee and Rideshare Fee

These fees must have a separate line item on receipts, one called Retail Delivery Fee and one called Rideshare Fee

Community Access Enterprise

State energy office may loan the enterprise money for startup costs, which must be reimbursed with interest.

The board is comprised of the director of the state energy office, the executive director of the department of public health and environment, the executive director of the department of transportation and four members appointed by the governor. For the appointed members, one must represent disproportionately impacted communities, one must represent interests of motor vehicle manufacturers or electric vehicle charging and fueling businesses or owners and operators of vehicle fleets, and one must represent a business or organization that supports electric alternatives to motor vehicles. Governor must consider geographic diversity when making appointments. All meetings are subject to state open meetings laws and all records subject to state open records laws.

Clean Fleet Enterprise

State may loan the enterprise money for startup costs, which must be reimbursed with interest.

Board of the enterprise consists of the executive director of the department of public health and environment, the director of the state’s energy office, the director of transportation, and six members appointed by the governor. For the appointed members, one representing a disproportionately impacted community, one with expertise in air pollution reduction, one with expertise in transportation, one with expertise in motor vehicle fleet electrification, one with expertise in business or supply chain management, and one representing a business that owns or operates a motor vehicle fleet. Appointments must reflect the geographic diversity of the state as much as possible. All meetings are subject to state open meetings laws and all records subject to state open records laws.

Clean Transit Enterprise

State may loan the enterprise money for startup costs, which must be reimbursed with interest.

Board is comprised of: the executive director of the department of transportation, the director of the state’s energy office, the executive director of the department of public health and environment, and six members appointed by the governor. For the appointed members, one must be a member of the transportation commission and have statewide transportation expertise, one must represent an urban area and have statewide transit expertise, one must represent a rural area and have statewide transit expertise, one must have expertise in zero-emissions transportation or motor vehicle fleets or utilities, one must represent a transportation-focused organization that serves an environmental justice community, and one must represent a public advocacy group that has transit or comprehensive transportation expertise. All meetings are subject to state open meetings laws and all records subject to state open records laws.

Non-Attainment Area Air Pollution Mitigation

State may loan the enterprise money for startup costs, which must be reimbursed with interest.

Board is composed of: the executive director of the department of transportation, the executive director of the department of public health and environment, and five members appointed by the governor. For the appointed members, one must have expertise in environmental justice or public health issues, one must be an elected official of a disproportionately impacted community that is a member of the Denver regional council of governments, one must be an elected official of a local government that is a member of the north front range metropolitan planning organization, and up to two members who are representatives of disproportionately impacted communities. All meetings are subject to state open meetings laws and all records subject to state open records laws.

Requirements for Integrated Project Delivery Contracts

Requires the department of transportation to not exclude any contractor from an integrated project delivery contract based on the contractor’s lack of experience delivering a public integrated project delivery contract in Colorado. For any contract over $75 million, the state must hold public meetings with the construction industry and general public to discuss justification for selecting the integrated project delivery method and obtain approval from the transportation commission before using this method. For all integrated project delivery contracts, the state must publish on their website justification for choosing the method (before starting the procurement process), include that same justification in any requests for proposals, publish the evaluation scores for each bid on its website, and update the ongoing status of the project until it is complete (again on its website). Integrated project delivery is where the contractor is involved at the design stage (actually at all phases of project).

Disproportionately impacted community is defined as a community where the proportion of households that are low income is greater than 40% or the proportion of households that identify as minority is greater than 40% or the proportion of households that are housing cost-burdened (pay more than 30% of income on housing) is greater than 40%.


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Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We have a known and massive funding gap in our transportation system because we haven’t raised the gas tax in 30 years, which has resulted in one of the major sources of funding dwindling over time so that now we are $0.06 below the national average (on a $0.22 tax so that’s a lot) and only 12 states in the country have lower gas taxes
  • This has resulted in us simply not being able to keep up with our transportation needs. The state has $5 billion in needs over the next ten years that are not fully funded, not to mention all of the road maintenance and repair work
  • Solutions other than increasing ongoing funding are band-aids that will leave us in the same place in a few years. We also have to account for the increasing number of electric cars that of course don’t pay the gas tax at all
  • So the bill raises the gas tax through an additional fee, adds a new fee on electric vehicles, and raises the TABOR revenue cap back to its constitutionally approved level (the previous lowering was done without voter input) so we can keep the extra revenue coming in
  • It also pours a ton of stimulus money into transportation, so it is not accurate to say we aren’t doing that too
  • Allowing for regional transportation planning organizations allows for local jurisdictions to not be held up by the rest of the state if they want to increase transportation funding in their area through increased taxes
  • We also must address the emissions coming from transportation if we want to reach our climate goals (to avert climate catastrophe, current conditions in the state with massive wildfires and mega droughts are already bad enough, we cannot afford for it to get worse). Transportation is poised to become our largest single source of emissions soon
  • That means mass electrification, including of fleets of vehicles (like delivery fleets), public transportation, and personal vehicles. It means building all of the charging infrastructure we will need to make this happen. It also means increased mass transit alternatives to get fewer miles driven overall
  • It makes sense to fund these efforts on fees on retail delivery and transportation network services like Uber because these are the sources of some of the worst emissions. Retail delivery is exploding in use (and expected to continue to do so, pandemic or no pandemic). These are vehicles that literally drive around all day in some of the worst emitting vehicles on the road. Transportation networks result in lots of wasted miles driven

In Further Detail: At its core part of this bill is a solution for a crisis that is decades in the making. We simply do not have enough money every year to pay for our transportation needs. Everyone agrees this is true because it is blindly obvious. The core of this problem is that the major source of revenue for the state is the gas tax and the gas tax has not been raised since 1991. Think about that, in 30 years we have not touched the major way we bring in money to fund transportation projects in the state. Our tax is $0.06 below the national average (and remember: it’s only $0.22 to begin with so that’s a lot) Only 12 states in the country have lower gas taxes than we do, and we are one of the fastest growing states in the entire country. As a result, the state could spend $126 per person in 1991 on transportation. That number has cratered to $69 per person in 2015 and with nothing done, by 2040 the estimate is $41 a person. Sure the state has found some workarounds. Those toll roads everyone loves on the new highway construction? The only way the state could afford to build those projects. We’ve dithered around with bonds and lease-purchase agreements but at its core, we must find a way to simply increase the annual money that automatically goes to the state to take care of our transportation. Anything else is just another band-aid that won’t help in the long-term. Right now the state has a $5 billion 10-year project list that is only partially funded. So yes, we have some stimulus money we can spend (and we’re spending it! Where do you think the massive 2021 transfers came from?), but if we don’t change the fundamental structure, we’ll be right back in the same place in two years. So how to change that structure? Well, first and most obviously: raise the gas tax. Now, TABOR doesn’t allow us to do that without asking the voters, so that is why the bill does this via a fee instead (which are not subject to TABOR). Second, we need to account for the increase in electric vehicles that don’t use gas and of course don’t pay the tax or fee. This is actually a key goal, we want more electric vehicles, but we have to find a way to keep the revenue stream constant. Thus the new registration fees on these vehicles. Is this an ideal solution? No, something based on actual miles traveled, like the gas tax is, would be a better and more equitable way to do this but there is clear public hesitancy over such a step and as such, we should study it first more deeply (which is what the bill requires). The third fundamental structural change that is necessary involves TABOR. Quite simply, it is cutting off our nose to spite our face if we raise all of this extra revenue to pay for our desperately needed transportation issues and then turn around and give it right back. The 2017 law that this bill repeals is not a constitutional, voter-approved, change to TABOR. It actually artificially lowered the TABOR revenue cap below what voters had approved, because that was what was required to get Republicans on-board and Democrats didn’t want to play chicken with a critical hospital fee. So does this bill undo that compromise? Yes, but it wasn’t a reasonable compromise to begin with and the voters did not weigh in on it. By raising the cap back to where it should be, we can absorb this extra revenue without having to pay it right back (and note that there is another transfer built into the bill that moves at least $115 million of this excess revenue right into transportation). It’s important to also point out that we don’t have hundreds of millions of dollars lying around in the state budget waiting to be used on transportation, like Arguments Against suggests we should. We still have massive school funding issues. Do you want to cut health care for Coloradans? Cut prisons? Now you’ve run out of major budget items where you are going to find any large amounts of money. Let’s also keep this to real numbers and not hysterics. We are talking about $0.08 more per gallon of gas and nearly $100 additional registration fees per year for an electric car. Finally, regional transportation districts allow areas of the state to decide for themselves if they want to increase taxes so as to fund more transportation in their area. If, for instance, the Denver metro area wants to increase sales taxes to fund transportation projects in the Denver metro area, they should be able to do so without being vetoed by citizens who don’t live there. The bill also prevents the state from turning around and giving these areas less funding. If citizens in Denver, to use the same example, are paying more in sales tax to fund their transportation needs and then the state pulls funding so that Denver ends up about the same but some other part of the state gets more money, that is not fair to Denver and advantages the people who refused to pay out of their own pockets.

All of that is basically one half of this bill. The other half has to do with our climate goals. Transportation is poised to become the #1 source of emissions in the state soon, passing up energy generation as the emissions in that sector rapidly diminish. If we are going to reach our goals for greenhouse gas emissions in the state, we will have to dramatically reduce the emissions coming from transportation. This will only occur through wide-spread and rapid adoption of electric vehicles and more multimodal transport use. So that’s what we are doing, through all of the new enterprises created by this bill. We are putting hundreds of millions of dollars toward building every piece of this: building the charging infrastructure needed, replacing fleets of vehicles, electrifying public transportation, and yes, incentivizing people to switch to electric vehicles for their personal cars, especially older models. A 2009 study found that 10% of passenger vehicles were responsible for more than 30% of nitrogen oxide emissions and nearly 50% of hydrocarbon emissions. All of this is funded on the back of new fees on retail delivery and transportation network services. The reasons behind this are actually pretty simple. First, retail delivery is rapidly increasing and probably will not drop much when the pandemic is completely behind us. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2030 there will be over 30% more delivery vehicles on roads to deliver 78% more packages. The motor vehicles that make these deliveries (think FedEx or Amazon) are some of the highest polluting vehicles on the road and frequently are idling in neighborhoods. Throw in all of your GrubHubs and UberEats and every other delivery service that uses regular commercial cars and you’ve got massive amounts of road usage and emissions. For the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that arrange a ride (by yourself, so no pool service) causes 69% more greenhouse gas pollution than alternative forms of transportation in part because of all the so-called deadhead miles (miles driven by the driver to get to your location and then from where they drop you off to the next location). Rather than try to stop either of these services, which have become essential, it makes more sense to use them to fund our electrification efforts (and focus hard on electrifying these services, as the bill does). And again, to be clear on this: $0.27 per delivery and $0.30 per ride in a non-electric car. Just like the gas fees, it is most likely that most people will not even notice. And why are we doing all of this, why spend so much money pushing people toward electrification? To avert climate catastrophe. We keep piling up record highs and collecting top 5 record warmest years. We have seen increased flooding in coastal areas and more dangerous storms (how many 100 year weather events can we have in the space of a few years?) More and more extreme fires hit our state seemingly every year. Droughts last longer and are more intense. Our current climate situation is bad here in Colorado, we cannot afford for it to get much worse. So drastic and immediate action is required. Not to mention, the smog that results from all of this pollution is really bad for your health. Clean air will do more than help us save the climate (and ourselves), it will also help us improve the health of all Coloradans, particularly those who live in close proximity to highways.

So yes, the bill does a lot, with a lot of different moving pieces. But at its core it is about two things: adequately funding our transportation needs into the future and reaching our emissions reductions goals to avert climate catastrophe and improve our health.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a clear attack on the principles of TABOR—using fees to evade the requirement that voters approve new taxes (even though these are taxes in all but name), reneging on the 2017 deal to lower the TABOR cap (the other half of the deal remains in place), and constructing multiple enterprises to evade the new requirement that enterprises which bring in more than $100 million in their first five years be approved by voters
  • Voters have been clear: they want this problem solved using existing revenue. They rejected a 2018 sales tax increase to fund transportation and by a pretty clear margin
  • The bill also removes the ability for voters to weigh in on using bonds to basically cover this same ten-year transportation funding need on this year’s ballot. We could have used that while continuing to work to find a way to use existing resources to solve our funding needs by cutting in a bunch of different other areas
  • And all of this new revenue (and stimulus money) isn’t even all going to our roads, a lot of it is going to multimodal mass transit projects
  • Much of this bill isn’t even about our existing transportation needs, instead it is about forced electrification of our transportation system by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to push people into electric vehicles and build infrastructure
  • All of this will come at the expense of the oil and gas industry, which is a critical state industry that employs a lot of Coloradans
  • All funded by increased fees on Coloradans who want something delivered to them or want to use Uber or Lyft
  • Regional transportation authorities have the potential to create real inequity in the state, where parts boost their own transportation funding and then are unwilling to help the rest of the state, which cannot do it on their own, boost theirs

In Further Detail: You can dress it up however you’d like but this bill is a clear attack on TABOR’s basic principles. First, reneging on the 2017 deal to raise the cap. Because this isn’t some sort of reversal, the part the Republicans gave on, moving the hospital fee out from under TABOR is still in effect. The Democrats are simply backing away from their part of the deal. Second, all of these fees, fees everywhere you look, without asking for voter approval. Is that technically legal? Sure, but the voters have been pretty clear about this. They rejected a 2018 proposal to raise the sales tax in order to fund transportation. They do not want increased taxes (or fees) to cover our transportation needs. So an additional $3.8 billion over ten years? Yeah, we need to be asking the voters not imposing all of these new fees. And then you have all of these new enterprises. You might be asking yourself, why create this many different enterprises instead of just one or two? Well the answer is evade the voters yet again, this time the ballot proposal from just last year that said any new enterprise that brought in over $100 million in its first five years needed voter approval. Cumulatively these enterprises would violate that provision; separately they do not. We were poised to ask voters to basically fill the exact same 10 year transportation hole this bill fills through bonds, which of course get repaid over time (with interest). This bill of course repeals that, but it is possible we would have found that 10 year solution right there. Then we could have continued to work on our overall budget to find the $20 million here and $50 million there that we really don’t need to be spending at the state level. Will that be easy? No, in an ideal word we’d spend unlimited money on everything but that isn’t the world that exists and tough choices have to be made. On the stimulus money, let’s also be clear that vast amounts of this are going to multimodal transport and not simply to the state highway users fund.

That brings us to the fact, and it is a fact, that about half of this bill has nothing at all to do with funding our current transportation needs and is instead about forcing the state into electrifying transportation. This isn’t so much putting a thumb on the scale as it is stomping on the scale and breaking it. The oil and gas industry is a critical industry in this state. We are 7th in oil production in the US. Tens of thousands of people are employed by the industry and hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on it. The clear goal of this bill is to in effect destroy this industry in order to raise up clean energy. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on pushing electrification instead of our roads, bridges, and tunnels. Hundreds of millions of dollars pushed into multimodal transportation that may not even by wanted (how many times do we have to see actual demand fall short of projected demand for these projects before we learn our lesson?) All of this funded through increased fees on all Coloradans who want to get something delivered to them or who want to use Uber or similar such services. Note by the way that taxis don’t pay this fee, which is not fair. To be clear, no company is going to pay these fees. They are passed on to the end user, like sales tax, and all Coloradans will pay.

As for regional transportation authorities, some things just need statewide solutions and our transportation network is one of them. If parts of the state boost their transportation revenue, then those parts are less likely to support statewide initiatives to do the same. That could leave parts of the state out entirely, where the infrastructure there deteriorates while other parts thrive. Future efforts to boost revenue could be torpedoed by the regions of the state who have already boosted their own revenues. Smaller and less prosperous parts could be left in a no-win situation where they cannot raise enough funds on their own to address transportation and cannot convince the rest of the state to help them. The structure of the bill leaves the department of transportation unable to siphon off at least some funds from the thriving areas to help other parts of the state. We all have to be in this together.


Bottom Line:

  • These sorts of fees are highly regressive, in that they hit poor people the hardest. Arguments For is probably right that many Coloradans won’t even notice the increases but poor Coloradans probably will. Our tax system is already regressive, we need to instead be focusing on unlocking the ability for the rich to pay their fair share which includes closing tax loopholes, removing deductions, and looking to end the TABOR enforced system of no progressive income taxes

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-260

SB21-265 Transfer From General Fund To State Highway Fund (Zenzinger (D), Rankin (R)) [McCluskie (D), McKean (R)]

PASSED

Appropriation: $124 million
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Transfer $124 million from the general fund to the state highway fund.

Description:

Transfers $124 million from the general fund to the state highway fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a lot of money but the background is fairly simple. Last year the state suspended $100 million in transfers it was supposed to make to the state highway fund in 2020-21 and 2021-22 and required the department of transportation to make some debt service payments itself in those two years. As a result the department made $62 million in debt payments both years. This simply refunds that money

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • SB260 already transfers far more than this, some of which could be used for these same debt payments. Plenty of the state stimulus bills’ Arguments Against sections make the case that there isn’t enough money being spent. Our state water plan, behavioral health care, tutoring support for students, there’s a lot where we could have spent more but didn’t

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-265