Pro-business bills advance
Permitting, state regs, rural Internet access are addressed
By PATRICK MALONE
May 5, 2012
DENVER — Business-friendly bills targeting regulation, permits and access to broadband Internet gained final approval this week in the state Senate. Southern Colorado lawmakers sponsored two of them.
Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, carried SB132, which seeks issuance of state air and water permits for industry within one year of application. It applies only to new permits, not renewals.
On Tuesday, the bill was amended to include a 7 percent hike in the cost of affected permits to pay for the additional expense of rapidly processing permits and conducting associated tests through the state Department of Public Health and Environment. Grantham said conversations around those fees have delayed the bill’s progress.
He said the idea for the bill was hatched during roundtable discussions with businesses in Southeastern Colorado and elsewhere in the state.
“The delays in obtaining the permits really obstruct the companies’ ability to strategically plan for their growth, for expansion, just for simply operating their businesses,” Grantham said.
The Senate passed the bill 30-5. Next, it faces a hearing in a House committee.
A bill that would create a commission to review the cost to businesses of state regulatory efforts passed 25-10 in the Senate on Wednesday.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, and Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, were the bipartisan sponsors.
“All we’re doing is looking for a report card,” Cadman said. “All we’re doing is looking for a true cost analysis of what the regulatory environment includes in Colorado for all businesses, not just manufacturing.”
The bill encountered some pushback from some Democrats, who painted it as a myopic lens into cost without consideration of the benefits and protections that government oversight provide.
Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, pointed to the national mortgage industry as an example of the hazards that accompany an absence of scrutiny.
“The cost of doing that regulation is what it is, but arguably the cost of the failure to do so has been the collapse of the entire United States economy,” she said. “To look at such a selective and skewed subset is going to create a system where the one thing we’ll know we’ll have is an incomplete picture.”
Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, countered that the case for regulation is self-evident, but the cost is not, so he said the bill is necessary.
“There are always the constituencies for control,” he said. “The bureaucrat, the regulator always sees the good that he or she thinks they’re trying to accomplish, and this bill simply requires the analysis that fills in the rest of the picture.”
The bill next faces a hearing in a House committee.
The Senate also passed a Southern Colorado lawmaker’s bill Wednesday that seeks to identify the most underserved areas of the state for high-speed Internet and prioritize areas for development of reliable broadband.
“It is essential to Colorado’s continued economic growth that all of our schools, hospitals and businesses, urban or rural, have all the necessary tools to be competitive and successful,” said Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, sponsor of SB129.
It now faces a hearing in a House committee.
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