Phil Castle, The Business Times
Despite the ongoing distractions of election-year politics, four state lawmakers from Western Colorado were pleased with some of the legislation enacted during the latest session.
That includes measures making it easier to register mobile machinery, extending the sales tax exemption on beetle-killed timber, reverting control of ports of entry to the Colorado State Patrol and making public trustees more accountable. What’s more, a property tax exemption for seniors was restored and another large cut to public school funding was avoided.
It wasn’t easy, though, said State Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran. “I’m sure there are times we look dysfunctional, meandering and wandering. And sometimes we are.”
State Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, described the process this way: “We fight off bad legislation and try to get good legislation through.”
State Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, agreed. “We try to stop some of the insanity that comes out of the Front Range.”
State Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said too much time is spent focusing on social issues with political ramifications instead of what he deems more important issues. “Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is our economy.”
The four reviewed what they considered the good, the bad and the ugly during a legislative wrapup breakfast hosted by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.
While the four devoted a lot of the time at the breakfast decrying politics and discussing measures that didn’t pass, they also mentioned a number of measures that did make it through the process.
Among the bills Bradford sponsored that were enacted was a measure changing registration procedures for special mobile machinery fleets to allow owners of 10 or more pieces of rental mobile equipment to register their entire fleets at the same time once per year.
Another measure sponsored by Bradford and King extends to 2020 a sales and use tax exemption on the sale of wood products made with beetle-killed timber.
Among the bills King sponsored that were enacted was a measure reverting control of ports of entry to the Colorado State Patrol. The Colorado Department of Revenue was responsible for operating ports of entry, although the state patrol was responsible for inspections and enforcement, King said.
Scott sponsored a bill designed to make public trustees more accountable by requiring budget reviews by county commissioners, biannual audits and the use of the state procurement system for purchases over $20,000. Public trustees appointed by the governor oversee the property foreclosure process in 10 metropolitan counties in Colorado, including Mesa County. Elected treasurers double as trustees in the remaining counties.
Scott also hailed efforts to restore the so-called senior homestead exemption. The exemption exempts from property tax half of the first $200,000 in actual value of the primary residence of qualified owners 65 years old or older. Projected increases in state revenues also enabled the Legislature to avoid what initially was proposed as
$188 million in additional funding cuts to K-12 and higher education.
Among the legislation Coram sponsored that was enacted was a measure correcting what Coram described as an unintended consequence of a law that put towing companies out of business. The new measure removes a $50,000 surety bond requirement for towing operators in Colorado. The expense of complying with that requirement had forced towing companies to shut down.
Another measure imposes a moratorium through the end of 2013 on fines assessed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for minor and inspection- and paperwork-related violations.