Breaking Down the 2019 Legislative Session

The 2019 Legislative Session wrapped up on May 3 and while transportation was not a primary focus in the session, there were still several pieces of legislation that will have a positive impact on transportation.

Here is a breakdown.

TABOR Reform – HB19–1257 and HB19-1258

What is it?

This session there were two bills that would amend Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and what is done with the extra revenue from taxes.

TABOR caps the amount of money the state can spend each year to the current budget plus growth and inflation. Extra revenue is returned to the taxpayers.

The first bill will ask voters to allow to the state to keep the money and the second bill requests that the funds be split equally between transportation, K-12 education and higher education.

The third allocated to the Highway Users Tax Fund would be divided with 60% going to the State Highway Fund, 22% to the counties and 19% to municipalities.

How does it impact you?

If these bills are approved by voters this coming November, it would mean you’re less likely to get a state refund from your taxes. However, it would provide some short term funding for much needed transportation infrastructure projects.

What’s next?

Both of these bills will be put on the November ballot for voter approval. If approved, the bill will take effect no later than 30 days after the vote.

Climate Change – HB19-1261

What is it?

This bill, introduced by House Speaker and Boulder native, KC Becker, set specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state: reduce output 30% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.

How does it impact you?

In order to meet these goals, the state is going to become serious about reducing vehicle miles travelled by single occupancy vehicles, electric zero-emission vehicles and more, given that transportation is Colorado’s second-largest source of carbon emissions.

Impacts of Transportation Changes – SB19-239

What is it?

SB19-239 will require CDOT to convene a stakeholder group to examine the economic, environmental and transportation system impact of new and emerging technologies.

The group will be responsible for:

  • Quantifying the amount of carbon emissions produced by ridesharing vehicles
  • Quantifying the amount of carbon emissions that can be reduced by zero-emission vehicles
  • The incentivizing of multiple occupant trips
  • Identify additional or improved transportation infrastructure
  • Access the cost associated with the above

How does it impact you?

While there may be no direct impacts to the public immediately, the recommendations produced by this stakeholder group will be influential on transportation policy in Colorado for years to come and will shape how our infrastructure is developed going forward.

Delay Referral of Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs) – SB19-263

What is it?

A ballot measure that would ask voters to authorize the sale of Transportation Revenue Anticipation Note (TRANs) is being delayed to November 2020, as opposed to November 2019. If approved in 2020, the measure would:

  • Require the sale of TRANs in a maximum amount of $1.837 billion
  • Require an additional $42.5 million be transferred from the General Fund to the State Highway Fund and that TRANs debt service be paid from the SHF

How does it impact you?

This bill will eventually provide additional short-term funding for transportation as it won’t be put to the voters until 2020, but doesn’t create a long-term sustainable source. It’s another band-aid on the situation while funding is figured out.

What next?

While our state legislators did a good job at finding short-term funding sources for vital transportation projects in Colorado, the next big hurdle we face is figuring out a long-term solution. This could be raising the gas tax, adding a sales tax or an idea that hasn’t been thought of yet. Solving our transportation funding crisis continues to be a top priority for our state and local government.