June 24, 2009
Your state legislature in Colorado is only in session from January to May. The US Congress however is in session now. Even though we are not federal, we do occasionally get updates about what is going on in Congress by virtue of us being in the state legislature. I would like to share some of the updates with you as they come in. For the most current information about US Congress, visit www.thomas.gov.
- U.S. House of Representatives likely will vote Friday July 26 on HR 2454 on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.
- ARRA (the Stimulus) reporting and accountability guidance was issued on June 22, 2009. The OMB issued M-09-21 as a memo for those guidelines. The full text is at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/memoranda_.default.
- Healthcare Reform: The initial package came in with a CBO estimated cost of $1.6 trillion bringing parties back to the drawing board and several different possible packages being drafted and considered.
- A bill to repeal the Real ID Act was introduced and replaced with a state-federal approach that avoids several of the earlier flaws and problems with the Act and replacing it with the PASS ID Act. This is expected to be heard by the Sente Homeland Security and Gov Affairs Committee in mid-July.
- On May 19, 2009 new fuel efficiency standards were announced to establish a 35.5 mpg standard for cars and light trucks by 2016.
June 23, 2009
I have the honor of Chairing the Interim Committee on Pinnacol Assurance. For those of you who are interested in the committee, the final appointments have been made in compliance with the statute and by the leadership of both the Democrats and Republicans. The committee will consist of the following:
Members of the Pinnacol Interim Committee:
Chair: Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora)
Members: Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton)
Sen. Lois Tochtrop (D-Thornton)
Sen. Ted Harvey (R- Highlands Ranch)
Sen. Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield)
Rep. Sue Ryden (D-Aurora)
Rep. Joe Miklosi (D-Denver)
Rep. Sal Pace (D-Pueblo)
Rep. Cheri Gerou (R-Jefferson)
Rep. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs)
Gary Johnson, Board Chair, Pinnacol Assurance
Pete Meersman, Pinnacol stockholder
Marcy Morrison, Division of Insurance
Dr. Lynn Parry, fmr President CO Medical Society and Pinnacol policyholder
Ken Ross, CEO, Pinnacol Assurance
Mark Simon, injured worker
Purpose: The purpose of this interim committee is to ensure Colorado policyholders are paying the lowest premiums possible, that injured workers are getting the medical care and benefits they need to get back to work, and that Colorado's "workers compensation insurer of last resort" is stable, successful and solvent.
August 4 (State Capitol, 200 E. Colfax Ave, House Committee Room 0112)
August 14 (HCR 0112)
August 31 (Legislative Services Building, 14th & Sherman, LSB-A)
September 4 (HCR 0112)
September 18 (HCR 0112) and
October 16 (HCR 0112)
The hearings will be held 9:00 – 5:00 PM with a break from 12:00 – 1:30 PM.
If you or anyone you know is interested in the treatment of injured workers, employees, policyholders, employers or the future of Pinnacol Assurance please contact me at email@example.com. Input from the public is welcome.
Each hearing day will include a formal agenda with expert witnesses designed to help explore the different issues involved to help make fully informed public policy decisions. There will also be a designated portion for open public testimony on each hearing day.
June 23, 2009
Thank you to all of you who attended our last townhall meeting with Rep. Ryden and myself on Personal Finance: Surviving a Recession. We had a great panel which included:
Keith Tillman, CPA
Marc Schtul, Bankruptcy Attorney
George Schumaker, Consumer Credit Counseling
Mason Finks, Fraud Unit, 18th Judicial
For those of you who could not make it, here was a few takeaway tips:
- Track What You are ACTUALLY Spending (few people do)
- Use That to Make / Keep / Modify a REALISTIC Budget
- Have a Plan for Debt Elimination, Highest Interest Pay-Down First
- If You Can't Make Your Minimum Monthly Payments, You Should Consider Consumer Credit Plans
- Consumer Credit Counselors Can Negotiate Lower Interest Rates to Help Pay Down Debt Faster
- Current Bankruptcy Law requires consultation with credit counselors before proceeding
- Rule of Thumb: Keep at least 6 months of your monthly expenses in savings
- Rule of Thumb: Try to make sure no more than 40% of your total earnings go to debt payments
- Then begin retirement planning on what you need to live
- When refinancing consider how long you plan to stay – consider the COST to refi
- Avoid interest-only loans or always pay more than asked and specify additional portion to principal
Also, a reminder to comparison shop, there are GOOD deals out there. And a particular reminder from Betty Harris is Free Cycle — a great way to find and get free items you would otherwise spend money to buy.
June 17, 2009
It is no secret that developers have been big players in the City of Aurora, both as donors to local officials and as policy-drivers for Aurora's growth policy, which has suffered from periods of serious sprawl, punctuated with some good in-fill planning. The right kind of growth can be very good for the city (The Aurora Health Sciences Center), but the wrong kind of growth can strap resources and create urban-suburban blight.
Aurora's growth rate and patterns has attracted the nervous attention of other parts of the state that are concerned about the inherent lack of water in the region and what that means as far the need to buy, relocate and store more water rights and the impact on the other basins.
But what may be a surprise to some is that in 5 years of walking my district, the concern about the pace of growth (development, not people) has reached the Top 5 issues virtually every year.
The neighborhood activists notice a higher transition and turnover rate and relatively fewer services over time to support the existing neighborhoods in Aurora.
Realtors and homeowners concerned about protecting the values of their homes (usually a person's single largest investment) worry that supply of new homes have outpaced demand, driving down property values in Aurora.
The environmental community has been concerned about sprawl and the additional drive-time that means which increases pollutions.
Many residents just want to make sure that basic infrastructure keeps pace with the pace of development and growth to protect and improve our quality of life in Aurora: roads, parks, recreation, schools, police and fire services.
The City will be the first to tell you that they are facing a very serious budget shortfall (as is everyone else), but there is one group is not currently paying their fair share – DEVELOPERS.
I have been previously told that "growth pays its own way" in Aurora but dig a little deeper and one discovers that is not true. It appears that a prior developer impact fee went utterly uncollected which is hard to explain. Thankfully, City Council passed an ordinance collecting $1,204 in impact fees from the developers. Right idea, right direction.
Here's the problem the ACTUAL cost to the City for capital infrastructure according to a recent 2008 study is more like $5,100. To the extent we collect anything less than that from developers in impact fees, the citizens of Aurora are subsidizing developers are our deficit in relative terms of our budget versus need for services will flow further backward every year.
I am strongly in support of the citizen-led effort to increase the developer impact fee so they actually pay their fair share and I want to thank the other citizens and elected officials in Aurora who have given their support to righting this wrong. There are several petition circulators. If you want to sign a petition or circulate one, let me know firstname.lastname@example.org.
The developers will no doubt mobilize, heavily fund opposition and pay handsomely for an ad campaigns to try to convince the public that they will raise the cost of new houses and pass the costs on. Such a move would only reinforce the concern that developers are not willing to pay for their fair share despite claims to the contrary. Stay tuned on this one!
June 05, 2009
The Department of Labor and Employment has just added another dedicated phone line just for the filing of new claims. This move is designed to reduce wait times and busy signals.
To file an initial claim call 303.318.9123.
To resolve questions or problems call 303.318.9000.