Dec 04

Colorado Legislative Update 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TO: Colorado AWRA

FROM: Chris Piper (Denver Water, Intergovernmental Affairs)

RE: CO Legislative Update

The CO General Assembly meets in its regular session once every year beginning no later than the second Wednesday of January and cannot exceed 120 consecutive days. It is during the regular sessions that the vast majority of legislation is debated. In addition, the General Assembly may also meet in Special Session to debate single issues that are typically considered pressing in nature. Further, there are various interim committees of the General Assembly that meet during the summer and fall to discuss potential legislation for the upcoming regular session. The summer interim committee that may be of most interest to the CO AWRA is the Water Resources Review Committee.

Since the General Assembly is currently out of session and most interim committees have finished their work, there is little to report. Bills that are debated in the Water Resources Review Committee must get a 2/3 vote in order to move them out of Committee to be introduced as legislation during the next regular session.

I have prepared a few items from the prior session, interim committee, and ballot measures that I believe the CO AWRA will be interested in.


1. Water Availability – HB1141 [Curry]. This bill was enacted into law. The Act ties water supply for new developments to land use decision making. It specifically requires local governments to take water supply into consideration when approving new development permits. Generally this Act requires the following:

a. Defines the different ways in which a developer can “prove” adequate water:

i. if developer is bringing its own water supply, they must prepare an engineering report that meets strict criteria on an adequate water supply,

ii. if development is served by a water supply entity that does not have a water supply plan, then the water supply entity must provide a letter or report based on a strict list of requirements that show the water supply is adequate,

iii. if the development is served by a water supply entity that does have a water supply plan that meets certain conditions and is on file with the local government, then the local government does not need to require any additional action.

2. Colorado Water Institute – HB1026 [Fischer and Schwartz]. This bill passed and was enacted into law and changes the name of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute to the Colorado Water Institute. The Institute is now allowed to receive general fund appropriations.

3. Rainwater Harvesting with Cisterns – SB119 [Romer and Looper]. This bill was referred to the Water Resource Review Committee and would have allowed for the capture of rainwater in cisterns of 5000 gallons or less in rural areas that are not connected to a domestic water system. It also would have set up 10 pilot projects to be built in new developments to do the same. New developments would have been required to augment at a rate of 30% any water captured over a 10 year study period. The study will determine the feasibility of the idea and determine if a lower rate of augmentation can be used. SB119 passed the Senate on 2nd Reading on April 3, with amendments.


1. Bill A – Move White River Basin to Water Division 6. This was the only bill to pass out of the interim committee and very simply moves the White River Basin into Water Division 6 which makes more logical sense. As a result it will be introduced during the regular session this January.

2. Bill 1 – Water Quality Grant Program for Small Communities. This bill did not pass out of interim committee but would have created a small communities water and wastewater grant fund and be funded with up to $10M per year from a severance tax shift out of the perpetual base account.

3. Bill 2 – Substitute Supply Plans for the Replacement of Pre-2003 Depletions. This bill did not pass out of interim committee and was also a very contentious bill in the 2008 regular session. It attempts to broaden the rules on substitute supply plans which would have allowed the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District to provide substitute water supplies on a temporary basis to alleviate some of the issues with wells on the lower South Platte that have been curtailed.

4. Bill 3 – Eliminating Future Repeal of the Water Supply Reserve Account. This bill did not pass out of interim committee and would have extended indefinitely the funding of the water supply reserve account from the operational account of the severance tax trust fund. It would have also allowed for grants in addition to loans.

5. Bill 4 – Exempt Pre-1974 Well Depletions from Augmentation Requirements. This bill did not pass out of interim committee and was also a very contentious bill in the 2008 regular session. It would forgive out-of-priority pumping depletions in the South Platte Basin prior to 1974. The State Engineer verified there was no pre-1974 requirement for replacement. This is another attempt to alleviate the difficulties placed on well users in the lower South Platte River.

For further resources on CO State Legislation you can find current year and past year bills, calendars, journals, and legislative contact information at the following website:


1. Amendment 46 – Discrimination and Preferential Treatment by Governments. This proposed amendment to the CO Constitution would prohibit discrimination or preferential treatment based on race, sex, ethnic or national origin in public education, employment and contracting. It would have an effect on practices that promote diversity in government contracting.

2. Amendment 52 – Use of Severance Tax Revenue for Highways. This proposed amendment to the CO Constitution would place a cap on funds from the state severance tax to programs within the Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Water Conservation Board that promote water-related projects statewide. Excess dollars generated would be moved over to the Department of Transportation.

3. Amendment 58 – Severance Taxes on the Oil and Natural Gas Industry. This proposed amendment to the CO Revised Statutes would eliminate the statutory tax deduction from severance taxes granted to oil and gas producers in Colorado. The severance tax imposed on oil and gas production is currently reduced by the amount of local property tax paid. Fifteen percent of the new revenue would be used to acquire and maintain wildlife habitat, including streams. This would have a positive impact on recovery programs for endangered species.


1. Amendment 47 – Prohibition on Mandatory Labor Union Membership and Dues

2. Amendment 48 – Definition of Person

3. Amendment 49 – Allowable Government Paycheck Deductions

4. Amendment 50 – Limited Gaming in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek

5. Amendment 51 – State Sales Tax Increase for Services for People with Developmental Disabilities

6. Amendment 53 – Criminal Accountability of Business Executives (WITHDRAWN)

7. Amendment 54 – Campaign Contributions from Certain Government Contractors

8. Amendment 55 – Allowable Reasons for Employee Discharge or Suspension (WITHDRAWN)

9. Amendment 56 – Employer Responsibility for Health Insurance (WITHDRAWN)

10. Amendment 57 – Additional Remedies for Injured Employees (WITHDRAWN)

11. Amendment 59 – Education Funding and TABOR Rebates

12. Referendum L – Qualifications for Serving in the State Legislature

13. Referendum M – Obsolete Constitutional Provision Relating to Land Value Increases

14. Referendum N – Obsolete Constitutional Provisions Relating to Alcohol Beverages

15. Referendum O – Citizen-Initiated State Laws

For further resources on the CO 2008 Ballot Measures along with analysis go to the following website:

If you have any further questions or would like to have me forward to you the text of any of the items discussed above, please call me at (303) 628-6580 or email me at


Chris Piper

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