Morgan's Bills - 2008 Legislative Session
Read Morgan's 2008 Legislative Newsletter
(1) HB08-1035 (M. Carroll and Swalm - Morse) - Extend Military Family Relief Fund:
The Military Family Relief Fund was originally created in 2005 by SB 05-52 (Jones – M. Carroll) to provide financial assistance to troops and their families who were experiencing deployment-related financial hardships. The eligibility criteria were further adjusted by HB 07-1371 (M. Carroll – Morse) to better pair funds with recipients. This fund will expire this year if we fail to extend it. The bill extends the MFRF through tax year 2010. It is funded both by a voluntary tax check-off on Colorado’s income tax return form and is also set up to accept private donations through the National Guard Foundation. The fund has received 2nd highest returns out of the 14 income tax check-off items. It is available to Active and Reserve of all branches and Guard and can help with housing, daycare, car repair, home repair, counseling or other emergencies.
03/17/2008 Signed by Governor
(2) HB08-1041 (M. Carroll - Gordon) - Enforcement Fair Campaign Practices Act:
We learned by way of recent court decision that important provisions in our Fair Campaign Practices Act were lacking enforcement provisions. My bill adds an enforcement clause for Article 45, Title I, closing the loopholes on:
C.R.S. §1-45-106 Campaign Spending Unexpended Funds
C.R.S. §1-45-105.5 Lobbyist Contributions During Legislative Session
C.R.S. §1-45-108.5 527 (Political Organization) Disclosure
C.R.S. §1-45-117 Prohibition Govt Entities Donate Political / Issue Campaigns
* These provisions are unenforceable until my bill passes.
04/10/2008 Signed by Governor
(3) HB08-1135 (M. Carroll - Hagedorn) - HOA Due Process, Mediation:
SB 05-100 Homeowners Bill of Rights (Hagedorn – M. Carroll) was carried and passed with bipartisan support in 2005 providing sweeping new rights for homeowners in HOAs. A clean-up bill followed the next year in the form of SB 06-89 (Hagedorn – M. Carroll). After two years the primary concern remains that of enforcement. 1.5 million Colorado residents live in HOAs and their property rights are impacted accordingly. This bill provides the option of low-cost, specially trained mediation for two willing parties who wish to resolve homeowner - HOA disputes quickly and cheaply. It also requires due process before fees and fines can be assessed against a homeowner (which under current law can lead to liens, foreclosure). It further requires reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities in compliance with the Federal Fair Housing Act.
04/21/2008 Signed by Governor
(4) HB08-1178 (M. Carroll - Hagedorn) - Spam Reduction Act of 2008:
Spam now constitutes more than 90% of server traffic and costs U.S. businesses approximately $70 billion annually in lost productivity. Spam is more than an inconvenience, it causes server crashes, helps proliferate viruses, worms, email fraud, phishing, and invasion of personal and business privacy. Colorado passed a junk email law in 2000 (HB 00 - 1309) to address spam and junk email. Congress then passed the CAN SPAM Act of 2003 which pre-empted state laws. The federal CAN-SPAM Act has arguably eradicated our old law but it does allow states limited concurrent enforcement jurisdiction with regard to specific areas. This bill re-asserts Colorado’s concurrent jurisdiction, where allowed, for maximum enforcement opportunity.
04/22/2008 Signed by Governor
(5) HB08-1203 (M. Carroll - Boyd): Public Hearings on Hospital Mergers:
Anti-trust laws exist to protect the free market from monopolies in certain industries. Hospital transfers, mergers and buy-outs have demonstrated a disturbing trend in concentration of ownership in the ownership of hospitals, which can lead to less choice, reduced competition and increased costs in health care. This bill (as amended) requires that the Attorney General consider the reduction in access or availability of health care services in determining whether or not to provide a public hearing prior to a hospital merger, takeover. This essentially triggers higher scrutiny and more public input on a hospital merger that would reduce access, availability of health care services.
05/27/08 Signed by Governor
(6) HB08-1212 (M. Carroll - Tapia) - Division of Real Estate Sunset
The bill reauthorizes the Division of Real Estate until 2017, repeals some obsolete language in the prior Act, retains state purchase of Errors & Omissions Insurance for Realtors, adds 4 hours of content to the required annual commission update course and requires the commission to approve all other continuing education courses. Replaces the member of the commission who was required to be a subdivision developer with a member of the general public, expands the grounds for discipline. retains funds in Cash Funds for enforcement.
04/17/2008 Signed by Governor
(7) HB08-1259 (M. Carroll - Ward) - Special District Accountability Act of 2008:
Special Districts are arguably the fastest growing area of government. With approximately 1,300 special districts, increasing 163% since 1981 (1400% for metro districts during same time), and approximately $255 BILLION in authorized but unissured bond debt, just in portions of the metro area alone, the time for increased transparency has come. Many people don't know what "special districts" they live in, who represents them, when meetings are held, when or where these off-cycle elections are held. The bill (as amended) provides notice to homebuyers of the special districts they are buying into, adds special district election ballots for those who request permanent mail-ballot status, provides annual notice to all eligible electors of what district they are in, when meetings are held and what elections are occurring when. This is an important bill for democracy, elections, property rights and taxpayer rights.
Senate Laid Over Until 05/10/2008 -- Senate Killed the Bill
(8) SB08-165 (Williams - M. Carroll) - Governor's Council Persons with Disabilities:
The Governor's Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities was created and spanned three different administrations. It exists only by way of executive order, affording it little stability or permanency. Further the Council current does not receive even minor cost reimbursement allowing for reasonable accommodations for appointees with disabilities (i.e. sign language interpreters, etc.) This codifies the groups existence, defines it and provides small funding for accommodating members with Disabilities.
06/05/08 Signed by Governor
(9) HB08-1389 (M. Carroll - Sandoval) - FAIR Act (Fair Accountable Insurance Rates):
This bill requires insurance companies to justify their rate increases before they take effect. It empowers the insurance commissioner to rejected unjustified. The brings transparency for all costs so we can learn why rates go up when they do. It collects the data and makes it available to the public. Health insurance premiums went up 98% in 7 years, many times faster than inflation or wages. Colorado (unlike many other states) currently lacks the ability to block unjustified rate hikes before they take effect. The insurance industry is currently spending an estimated $98 BILLION in EXCESS administration and $600 BILLION in surpluses, not counting profits, admin or executive salaries. This is more than the GDP of 193 countries. The cost of covering every uninsured American is approximately $77 BILLION. Colorado citizens should have a right to know where their health care dollar is going and why premiums are so expensive.
06/05/08 Signed by Governor
(10) SB08-234 (Gordon - M. Carroll) - Election Reform Commission
This bill creates an election reform commission to review and identify issues in our elections and make recommendations for fixing them in the 2009 legislative session before the 2010 General Election.
06/02/08 Signed by Governor
Other Key Bills in the 2008 Session
SCHOOLS & EDUCATION
Build Excellent Schools Today – HB 1335, Speaker Romanoff, President Groff & Sen. Schwartz: Makes as much as $1 billion available to repair and rebuild the state’s crumbling schools.
Ensure Safe Schools – SB 1, Sen. Morse, Rep. Stephens: Creates a school safety resource center to assist in preparing and responding to school crises.
Expand Early Education – HB 1388 (School Finance Act), Reps. Pommer, Sen. Windels: Allows 25,000 more 4- and 5-year-olds to enroll in preschool and full-day kindergarten.
Help Dyslexic Students – HB 1223, Rep. Merrifield, Sen. Williams: Identifies dyslexia early on to help kids with special needs become effective learners.
Teach for Colorado – SB 133, Sen. Shaffer, Rep. Andy Kerr: Provides incentives for college students to teach math and science after graduation.
Recruit & Retain Teachers – HB 1384, Reps. Todd & Merrifield, Sen. Bacon: Awards stipends to teachers who focus on hard-to-serve districts and streamlines the licensure process.
Create Plan for All Kids To Achieve – SB 212, Sens. Romer & Penry, Reps. Scanlan & Witwer: ‘CAP for Kids’ aligns Colorado’s pre-school, K-12 and college educational systems and content standards.
Allow Schools to Innovate – SB 130, President Groff & Sen. Spence, Rep. T. Carroll: Encourages schools and school districts to innovate to improve student performance by creating Zones of Innovative Performance (ZIPs) free of certain district and state regulations.
Raise College Opportunity Fund – HB 1375 (Long Bill), Rep. Buescher, Sen. Keller: Adds $50 million to increase stipends to put higher education within reach for more Colorado students.
Increase Higher Ed. Capital Construction – SB 218, Sens. Schwartz & Penry, Reps. Buescher & Balmer: Re-allocates Federal Mineral Lease dollars to help the state’s underfunded college campuses maintain their infrastructure.
RENEWABLE ENERGY ECONOMY & ENVIRONMENT
Generate Homegrown Energy – HB 1160, Rep. Solano, Sens. Shaffer & Isgar: Gives customers credit when their meter runs backwards from the production of wind and solar power.
Develop Utility-Scale Solar Energy – HB 1164, Rep. Solano, Sen. Schwartz: Advances energy independence and protects consumers by opening the market to utility-scale solar projects.
Support New Energy Technologies – HB 1375 (Budget), Reps. Buescher & Pommer, Sens. Keller & Morse: Grows the Clean Energy Fund to promote innovation and investment in the industry.
Help Coloradans “Go Green” – HB 1350, Rep. Madden, Sen. Romer; SB 184, Sen. Romer, Rep. Levy: Helps consumers afford the upfront costs of renewable energy and efficiency measures with low-interest loans.
Keep Our Rivers Healthy – HB 1280, Rep. Fischer, Sen. Schwartz: Protects water rights and keeps more water in the river to safeguard ecosystems and Colorado’s recreational economy.
Maintain Healthy Forests & Reduce Fire Danger – SB 71, Sen. Gibbs, Rep. Scanlan: Supports community-based responses to the bark beetle epidemic to reduce wildfires.
Protect Our Water – HB 1161, Reps Kefalas & Fischer, Sens. Bacon & Johnson: Helps local communities protect their land and groundwater supplies from radioactive waste produced by uranium mining.
Ensure Reliable Water Supplies for Development – HB 1353, Rep. Madden, Sen. Isgar: Directs developers to identify adequate water supplies before new developments are approved.
Strengthen Conservation Easement Program – HB 1353, Rep. Madden, Sen. Isgar: Preserves Colorado’s open spaces by preventing fraud and misuse of the successful program.
CUTTING TAXES & RED TAPE
Cut Taxes & Red Tape for Small Businesses – HB 1225, Reps. Rice & Buescher, Sens. Williams & Ward: Eliminates the business personal property tax (BPPT) for 30,000 small businesses.
Eliminate the Aerospace Industry’s “Flyaway Tax” – HB 1261, Rep. Buescher, Sen. Bacon: Exempts from sales tax the sale of new and used aircraft that are to be used outside Colorado.
Reduce Tax Burden on Employers – HB 1380, Rep. Jahn, Sen. Shaffer: A “Single Factor Tax” allows businesses to pay one tax – based on sales – rather than pay based on multiple factors, allowing them to put more resources back into their businesses.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNITY
Boost Bioscience Business – HB 1001, Rep. Riesberg, Sen. Bacon: Makes $26.5 million available for universities and start-up companies to move new technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace.
Expand Rural Broadband Access – SB 215, Sen. Schwartz, Rep. Riesberg: Encourages greater broadband in rural communities to support access to the Internet and help small, rural businesses.
Help Homeowners Stay in Their Homes – HB 1402, Reps. Gagliardi & Ferrandino, Sen. Bacon: Establishes and finances outreach programs to get homeowners facing foreclosure information about available counseling resources, including the Foreclosure Hotline, to help more Coloradans stay in their homes.
Rejuvenate Colorado’s Cities and Towns – SB 170, Sen. Bacon, Rep. Buescher: Revitalizes cities and towns by allowing them to extend the period that they can return local tax revenue to local businesses.
Expand Health Care Access for Kids – SB 160, Sen. Hagedorn, Rep. McGihon: Helps 50,000 more kids get the health care they need.
Increase Eligibility – SB 161, Sen. Sandoval, Rep. Merrifield: Cuts bureaucracy so more kids eligible for coverage can get the health care they need.
Increase Reimbursement Rates – HB 1375 (Budget), Reps. Buescher & Pommer, Sens. Keller & Morse: Increases reimbursement rates for services provided to low-income and disabled patients through Medicaid program.
Cut Administrative Waste – SB 135, Sen. Mitchell, Rep. Gagliardi: Using standardized health ID cards and claim forms, providers trim costs and focus on helping the sick.
Improve Transparency – HB1385 Rep. Primavera, Sen. Schwartz; HB1393 Pommer & Stephens, Morse & Mitchell: Creates user-friendly report cards with consumer information comparing health insurance companies; publishes the cost of top 25 hospital procedures and creates a consumer’s guide to those health care procedures.
Cancer Screenings – HB 1410, Rep. A Kerr, Sen. Tochtrop: Fights colon cancer – the second leading cancer killer in Colorado – by directing insurance companies to provide evidence-based screenings.
Coverage That Counts – HB 1407, Speaker Romanoff, Sen. Majority Leader Gordon: Holds insurance companies accountable if they unreasonably delay or deny payments for benefits included in their plans.
Hold Insurance Industry Accountable – HB 1228, Rep. Green, Sen. Majority Leader Gordon: Allows the commissioner of insurance to collect restitution – or damages – on behalf of misled consumers.
Fair, Affordable Insurance Rates – HB 1389, Rep. M. Carroll, Sen. Sandoval: Gives the Division of Insurance the ability to deny rate hikes for consumers and employers if evidence does not support the increase and gives full transparency to reasons for premiums increases.
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