Yesterday, Wednesday May 10th, was the final day of the 2017 Colorado Legislative Session. This session was a successful one for the Colorado Water Congress and Colorado’s water community. We could not have reached our goals without our contract lobbyist Dianna Orf and her firm, Orf & Orf, P.C. A huge thank you for their daily efforts at the Capitol for the past 120 days.
The CWC tracked 34 bills this session, and took positions on 27. Of those 27, the CWC State Affairs Committee voted to support 19, to oppose four, and to monitor four. The bills that we did not take a position on are bills on which we could not reach a 2/3 consensus vote.
Of the 19 bills that the CWC supported, only one did not make it through the legislative process. Of the four bills that CWC opposed, only one, SB17-117, passed through both houses and has been signed by Governor Hickenlooper. For a more comprehensive look at the bills CWC took positions on this session, check out our Bill Status Sheet, which I’ll update as the Governor signs legislation.
HB17-1321, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Financial Sustainability
HB17-1321 was postponed indefinitely, or “killed” on May 4th in the Senate Finance Committee. The CWC State Affairs Committee voted to support the sections of this bill (Sections 19-23) that related to protecting waterways from the spread of aquatic nuisance species. The bill was designed to provide continued and increased funding for the Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW). It authorized increased fees and licenses issued by CPW and its vendors as set by Commission rules, not to exceed set amounts. It also sought to add a fee for an aquatic nuisance species sticker which would have worked similarly to a boater registration sticker. As introduced, the bill prohibited the use of money from increased fees for acquisition of interests in real property including water. This provision was amended in committee and caused significant controversy during floor debate. The bill also intended to allow CPW to grant up to 25% of funds from the sale of state migratory waterfowl stamps to nonprofit organizations to implement the North American waterfowl management plan. The use of fees to acquire fee title in additional property was a significant issue in the Senate, and ultimately contributed to the downfall of the bill in Senate Finance.