CACD LEGISLATIVE REPORT – April 2021
2021 has seen a unique schedule in Denver, as the Colorado General Assembly gaveled in for three days from January 13th to 15th to swear in new and returning state house and senate members, as well as passing 7 time-sensitive pieces of legislation regarding the pandemic and clean-ups from 2020 special session. None of that legislation related to natural resource or private property issues.
They gaveled back in Tuesday, February 16, after a one-month break to allow additional COVID vaccinations to be administered to members, staff, and the general public.
At the halfway point in the 120-day session, we are following 40 pieces of legislation, some of which will have major impacts on the Colorado’s Conservation Districts if passed. Below are a few of those, along with local legislators that are sponsoring those bills.
Introduced on March 4th, House Bill 1181 - Agricultural Soil Health Program is a bill that
CACD has been involved in stakeholder processes for several years, monitoring, and participating in the Collaborative for Healthy Soils working group that drafted the bill.
After very careful deliberation and many hours of poring over the bill language, CACD is currently opposing the bill based on our policy book and concerns from the Districts regarding the process in which the bill enacts the program. We have heard many concerns about this bill from Conservation Districts across the state, both pro and con, and we have not taken this position lightly. We have presented two sets of amendments to the proponents of the bill to protect the districts and private landowners in an attempt to get to a neutral or support position on this piece of legislation.
CACD is in support of the CO 5 Star Program being developed by CDA for the state. It is our understanding that this program will move forward regardless of whether HB1181 passes.
The new soil health program (CO 5-Star Soil Health Program) will presumably will be housed under a newly proposed CDA Office created by another bill of concern, HB21-1242 - Create Agricultural Drought And Climate Resilience Office. This bill would create in the department of agriculture a new office under the Conservation Services Division to deal with climate issues, including the ACRE3 program and presumably the soil health program. CACD is currently opposing the bill, but communicating with Commissioner Greenberg on potential amendments to improve the bill that could move us to a neutral or support position.
A bill that could have disastrous effects in rural Colorado is Senate Bill 087 Agricultural Workers' Rights. Eliminating long-standing labor exemptions for agriculture and ag workers, this bill seeks to rewrite decades of common-sense labor laws in one fell swoop. We have called our membership to action asking to oppose this legislation if it does not change course. CACD is considering submitting amendments, but this remains to be seen. Please email us your input.
Senate Bill 079 Deregulate Meat Sales Direct To Consumers by Senator Sonnenberg and Representative Pelton should help improve markets for Colorado livestock, while House Bill 1043 Study Underground Water Storage Maximum Beneficial Use by Representative Holtorf and Senator Sonnenberg and House Bill 1046 Water Share Right Mutual Ditch Corporation by Senator Sonnenberg look to improve water storage and usage efforts in the state.
You can always access the CACD Bill Tracker at www.coloradoacd.org, by clicking the Legislative and Policy drop-down menu, clicking Legislative and Bill Tracker, and clicking the CACD 2021 Bill Tracker link. Past year bill trackers are also available to those interested.
The COVID pandemic has opened up all committee hearings to rural Coloradans, as remote testimony is now being made available for all bills, not just a select few, as in the past. Please reach out to CACD for detailed instructions on how to participate remotely on bills important to the conservation districts.
The plan is for the legislature to work until mid-June. They have currently used up over 60 of their constitutionally-allowed 120 days.
CACD Colorado 2020 Legislative Wrap-Up
The 2020 Colorado legislative session was anything but typical. Though it began in normal fashion on January 8, both chambers recessed on March 13 due to COVID-19 emergency orders, and did not reconvene again until May 26, a 72-day interruption. Through the course of the emergency recess and the coinciding economic shutdown, the state suffered a $3.3 Billion revenue shortfall, resulting in unprecedented budget cuts to the state budget. There were no funding cuts to the Conservation Districts budget, however.
When the legislature reconvened, the remaining session lasted just short of 3 weeks, with the constitutional duties of passing a 2020/2021 budget (Long Bill) and school finance legislation amidst massive cuts being the top priorities for both chambers. Most 2020 bills proposing new programs or new funding lines were killed in the days immediately after returning from recess, as the state essentially jumped back to 2017/2018 budget levels.
Ultimately, the 2020 legislative session adjourned sine die on June 15, concluding legislative activities for the year after meeting for only 84 of the constitutionally-allowed 120 days. In turn, the governor’s signing window closed on July 15 with little fanfare. Unless the Governor calls a special session, which I do not foresee, the legislature is out of session until January 13, 2021, when the 73rd General Assembly will convene.
Despite the 2018 elections resulting in a strong Democrat trifecta, with a 41-24 majority in the house, a 19-16 majority in the senate, and liberal Jared Polis in the Governor’s mansion, this session seemed less political due to the budgetary and health challenges facing the state. It was a clear deviation from normal General Assemblies regarding the politics, policy, and processes that have dictated the regular course of business in my 13 sessions at the legislature.
CACD monitored 42 bills concerning natural resources issues this session. Bill tracking link:
Many sectors saw little progress in the 2020 session due to the COVID-19 crisis, and natural resources, agricultural, and rural issues were no exception. CACD ran a piece of proactive legislation, HB-1115 Sales Tax Exemption For Farm Fencing Material, which was introduced in the first few weeks of the legislative session. CACD board members and others testified in front of the House Finance Committee, where the measure met resistance from urban legislators from both parties. We were working to educate the members of the committee on the inconsistencies in the application of sales taxes on agricultural goods, particularly fencing, when the COVID-19 emergency recess occurred. After returning, nearly all new tax benefits were killed, and HB-1115 was no exception.
Due to a constrained budget and calendar, there will be no legislative interim committees this year, including Water Resources Review Committee, which was codified by SB-214 Suspend 2020 Legislative Interim Committees. This will likely mean less bills being introduced in the early days of the 2021 session, but we are still working to determine what this shortened interim and political season will look like regarding bill drafting and stakeholder processes.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent your interests in Denver!
CACD Legislative Committee - Update on the policy book project - 9/16/2020:
Resolutions (one from each resource section) have been sent to the districts for review of the proposed changes from the 2020 Policy book. The idea is to bring districts into the fold of the process and give them time to present and discuss with their boards and watersheds. CACD announced a comment period with a deadline of October 1.
The legislative committee has also been working on review and follow-up with the resolutions that were passed in 2017, 2018, and 2019 to make sure all CACD obligations of the resolution have been completed. For those pending some additional work, the committee has split this up to get the work done and to involve the submitting district in the completion process. We will be sending a resolution completion report to the districts by October 15th. CACD feels this is a beneficial procedure going forward.
CACD Colorado Legislative Update - June 15, 2020
Monday June 15th, the legislature finally called it quits for the year by adjourning sine die, which in Latin means “without a day.” The Governor now has 30 days to either sign, veto, or pass into law without signature any legislation that passed this session. Once the Governor’s signing window is closed we will provide a final wrap up document.
The number of bills that were left in play after the 72-day COVID19 emergency recess dwindled drastically due to the $3.3 billion dollar revenue shortfall, despite a few new bills being introduced here and there. Here is your bill tracking sheet:
I appreciate all of you for hanging in with me through this on-again and off-again session!
CACD Colorado Legislative Update - May 28th, 2020
The Colorado state legislature has officially reconvened to finish the 2nd Regular Session of the 72nd General Assembly. This comes with many changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including: extensive social distancing measures for legislators; mask requirements for the public; temperature checks and questionnaires at the public entrances; and very limited committee room space for the public.
Interested parties are being encouraged to submit written testimony instead of showing up in person. Adding to the challenges, there is no access to either House or Senate lobbies or balconies, and no seating throughout the building, unless sitting in a committee room for a specific bill.
The calendar includes pages and pages of floor work and committee hearings after a 72-day recess, as they rapidly sort through the bills that will live and die. This week seems to be dedicated to killing all non-essential bills in order to focus on the budget and Covid-19 related legislation. There were approximately 70 bills Postponed Indefinitely (killed) the first two days back, out of 612 total introduced for the year. So roughly 1/10th of all 2020 bills died the first two days, to put it into perspective.
More importantly, the budget has been introduced, as HB20-1360: 2020-21 Long Bill and began moving through the process, passing out of House Appropriations committee to the House floor. It was introduced with a package of 49 new bills the last two days, most concerning financial cuts due to the estimated $3.3 billion dollar revenue shortfall for Fiscal Year 20/21 beginning July 1st. There’s still very little known about what other bills may be introduced, but you can be sure that hundreds of bills will die before the week is out.
The long bill is starting in the house this year, so there will be little to no other legislation making its way through that chamber until the house takes the first steps to balance our state’s budget. The budget typically takes one week per chamber.
Here is an updated tracking sheet specifically listing the progress on all water bills: https://coloradocapitolwatch.com/bill-analysis/5831/2020/0/
Here is your updated tracking sheet: https://coloradocapitolwatch.com/bill-analysis/3749/2020/0/
As always, let CACD know if you have any questions or feedback.
CACD Colorado Legislative Update May 14, 2020
Wednesday May 13th was Day 60 of the unprecedented emergency recess of the Colorado General Assembly due to the COVID-19 virus threat and associated government shutdowns. May 6th was the original date set for the legislature to adjourn Sine Die, so the state government is entering unprecedented territory.
The statewide stay-at-home order expired Sunday April 26th, but social distancing measures remain in place as the state gradually begins to reopen under Safer at Home protocols. Coloradans are no longer ordered to stay home, but are strongly advised to do so. Critical businesses are open and non-critical businesses are operating with restrictions, as detailed in the latest public health order.
The General Assembly had introduced 563 bills as of March 14th. As disease case numbers have begun to decline, legislative leadership is engaging in earnest discussions on how to reconvene the legislature in a manner that protects the legislators and the general public, many of which fall into the at-risk categories for coronavirus. Some of the challenges facing the legislature are conducting remote testimony, remote voting, social distancing, mask requirements, public participation, and who will be allowed to enter the Capitol, included potential temperature scanning.
House and Senate leadership have indicated the reconvened session will likely last 2 to 3 weeks only, rather than the roughly 50 days the Supreme Court order granted them to continue meeting. The annual budget (Long Bill) and a school finance bill are the most pressing priorities for the legislature to accomplish when they return, but other legislation such as economic recovery bills, paid sick-leave bills, and other coronavirus recovery bills will potentially be taken up as well.
The Executive Committee (made up of the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, and Majority and Minority leaders in each chamber) had originally announced a May 18th start date back in early April, but later announced a further delay and will now reconvene the week of May 25th. Monday’s administrative meeting heard Republican Senate and House minorities voicing concerns regarding seating legislators in the balconies to attempt social distancing and the efficacy/fairness of remote hearings for Committees of Reference, two ideas being suggested by the Democratic majorities.
These questions, as well as how many committees can meet at the same time, the creation of new committees, and the timing of those committees add even more decisions to be made by leadership. With 375 bills remaining in play, the shortened session will be a true test to accomplish everything that needs to be done. The next Executive Committee meeting is scheduled for May 18th.
Meanwhile, the powerful 6-member Joint Budget Committee that writes the annual budget each year, began meeting again May 4th with staff and legislators only in the room. The budget has been growing steadily in Colorado’s expanding economy over the past decade, topping $30 Billion dollars in 2019-2020 budget year, with nearly $15 billion in general funding the legislature has direct control over. A new state budget forecast was released Tuesday May 12th to inform the final version of the budget.
The numbers were grim as suspected, projecting a $3.3 Billion decrease from original revenue projections. This will result in 25% less funding available for the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget, essentially taking the state back to 2017-2018 funding levels. As a result, messaging has been consistent that most, if not all, bills carrying a fiscal note this year will die, and we will see deep cuts across many government departments to make up for the shortfall. The state’s 2020-2021 fiscal year begins July 1st 2020, so a budget must be passed by June 30th.
I have been in communication with legislators and Governor Polis’s staff through the emergency recess to continue to advocate on behalf of our client’s priorities in Colorado, and will continue pressing forward to achieve the best outcomes possible when the legislature reconvenes as a new “normal” emerges.
The legislative recess is having political impacts as well, as the recess drags on into the election cycle, preventing incumbent legislators from campaigning and fundraising on a normal schedule. Time will tell how many legislative race outcomes are changed by this unprecedented disruption.
CACD Colorado Legislative Update March 31, 2020
Yesterday, the Colorado General Assembly convened for a few minutes in each chamber to extend the Covid-19 emergency recess. At the state legislature, as with the rest of the country, it is unclear when they will be able to take up regular business again. Today should have been Day 83, but instead is now its 16th day of recess. The legislature is in jeopardy of not completing work on the vast majority of bills introduced this session, with 432 left in limbo at this time.
There is almost certainly no way to start working again until the pandemic begins to subside, given the need for the public to participate in the lawmaking process and the large number of at-risk citizens participating as legislators, lobbyists, nonpartisan legislative staff, and stakeholders.
The House and Senate must reconvene to pass several constitutionally-required bills for the state to function: the annual budget (Long Bill); and the school finance bill. (A third constitutional requirement, the rule review bill, has already been passed and signed by the Governor). June 30th, the last day in the state fiscal year, is the presumptive deadline for these critical bills to pass.
If the state Supreme Court says the legislature cannot hit the “pause” button, and they cannot reconvene in time, every single bill that has not passed through the legislature will die.
At that point, the Governor or the General Assembly itself would likely call a special session once the state of emergency has been lifted. The scope of legislation would depend on the Call issued by the Governor or the Legislature, and bills would be required to fall under those topics.
CACD - Colorado Legislative Update March 21, 2020
One week ago, Saturday March 14th, the state legislature went into recess due to the coronavirus threat. They passed House Joint Resolution 20-1007 stating that the legislature will return on March 30th to reevaluate the situation. That was the 67th legislative day of the 120-day session.
The House and Senate also passed House Joint Resolution 20-1006 requesting guidance from the State Supreme Court regarding the nature of the 120-day session. The question is, if in a state of emergency, it is required the 120 days be counted consecutively (which would mean an end date of May 6th) or if only days on which the Senate or the House of Representatives are convened are counted.
Many of the legislative priorities, including constitutional mandates such as passing an annual budget, await a response from the state's highest court. For now, the fate of the 465 bills (out of 563 introduced) still working their way through the legislative process are in limbo, including the 34 bills your state association is monitoring. CACD is currently tracking the following bills on behalf of the conservation districts: LINK
All of the bills CACD has been working on have been put on hold by the recess, including the State Budget (originally scheduled to be introduced this coming Monday, March 23rd) and HB20-1115 Sales Tax Exemption For Farm Fencing Material, a bill that CACD introduced this year out of the Delta Conservation District.
Please review the bill tracking sheet and send any comments you have to your CACD Watershed Board Member or CACD Executive Director Bobbi Ketels. We remain ready to re-engage when the legislature reconvenes.
The latest budget forecast is speculating that the state will have little new revenue to spend on this year's budget, fiscal year 2020-21 starting July 1st. We will work diligently to prevent any cuts to existing conservation district budgets. Unfortunately, record low oil prices and the slowing of new oil and gas permits due to SB19-181 will likely lead to a lack of severance funds for Matching Grants and Conservation Techs moving forward. We will continue to work with our partners at Colorado Department of Agriculture to address these needs.
We will continue to pass along more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy.
2019 CACD Legislative Wrap-Up Report
The Colorado Association of Conservation Districts (CACD) is celebrating another successful year of lobbying the Colorado General Assembly on behalf of the state’s 76 conservation districts. This year’s session ran from January 4ththrough May 3rd, with the governor’s 30 day signing period closing on June 3rd.
335 House Bills and 263 Senate bills were introduced during the session, for a total of 598 bills. This is slightly below the 10 year average of ~640 bills run each year.
CACD tracked 34 bills concerning natural resources, conservation, private property rights, and water issues this year. CACD supported the following bills:
-House Bill 19-1006: Wildfire Mitigation Wildland-urban Interface Areas
-House Bill 19-1082: Water Rights Easements
-Senate Bill 19-040: Establish Colorado Fire Commission
-Senate Bill 19-207: FY 2019-20 Long Bill
The CACD Legislative Committee bases its decisions on what bills to track based on the CACD policy book, which is composed of policies pushed up to the state association through the resolution process. I’d like to thank CACD Board members Scott Jones, George Fosha, Jim Cecil, Steve Mcendree, Nick Charchalis, and Gary Thrash for their contributions to the policy committee this year!
All 4 of these bills were signed by the governor. We supported the Long Bill, the state budget for 2019-2020 fiscal year, containing direct district funding and grant funds, which was signed by the Governor on April 18th. Additionally, we supported 2 wildfire bills; HB-1006 and SB-40 in collaboration with the Jefferson Conservation District, with the approval of our legislative committee, and on behalf of other districts across the state with forest and wildland interface lands.
House Bill 1082 was born out of CACD’s November 2017 annual meeting, where the districts approved a resolution seeking clarification of state statute regarding ditch easements and the right to improve or maintain a ditch. As a result of this resolution, CACD presented the issue to the 2018 interim legislative Water Resources Review Committee, and subsequently worked with Representatives Marc Catlin (R-Montrose) and Donald Valdez (D-La Jara), and Senator Don Coram (R-Montrose) to craft and run House Bill 1082. The bill clarifies a ditch right-of-way to include the right to maintain, repair, and improve the ditch. Prior to this legislation, it was not clear if and when improvements were allowed, creating confusion and leading to litigation. The bill was signed into law by Governor Polis on March 28, 2019.
CACD opposed one bill: Senate Bill 19-181: Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations. CACD has policy supporting all-of-the-above energy development as well as policy protecting private property rights, which SB-181 endangered on both counts, leading to an opposed stance. The governor signed this bill into law on April 16th.
There have been some concerns coming from the Districts regarding SB-181 and the bill's potential to reduce severance tax revenues, but thus far it has not had an impact on district funding. The districts are in an advantageous position because the funding lines of $483,767 for Direct Assistance and $225,000 in grants (for the District Conservation Technician program or matching grants) are general funded and not subject to changes in severance tax revenue. So, to the extent we can continue to lobby for those dollars in the Annual Long bill, $758,767 is guaranteed state funding. $450,000 of the potential total annual budget comes from severance taxes (if revenues are sufficient) and are also used for matching grants and/or conservation techs, if available. That funding line for the 2019-2020 Budget year is projected to come in at $404,673, and $386,982 for 2020-2021 budget year, so within striking distance of being fully funded. Any effects that SB-181 may or may not have on severance revenue will not be known for a few years.
Additionally, we monitored an additional 29 bills that may have impacts on the districts, all of which can be found at the following tracking link: https://coloradocapitolwatch.com/bill-analysis/3749/2019/0/
2018 Resolution Progress
Dust Bowl Priority Area: CACD will participated in a meeting in Las Animas November 13th. CACD will help spread the word of the upcoming meeting.
Tax Exemption Fencing Supplies: working with Rep. Marc Catlin to draft a bill for the 2020 session.
Wildlife Priority Area Designation for CRP working with the state technical committee, write a letter to them, and FSA.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act for Ag Equipment: "Right to Repair" bill coming in 2020 legislative session, will work to make sure ag/rural interests represented there. Check with the Department of Ag (already taken to NACD and it was defeated, stating this needed to be handled on a state or regional level). Larry Lempka is a source of info. CACD Board Member: Jim Cecil.
Off-Road Bicycles and E-Bikes: Letter to Colorado Parks and Wildlife asking for a fee for bicycles to be on state lands - communicate with Senator Ray Scott and Rep. Perry Will. Possible media strategy.
Soil Health: currently participating in soil health conversations with CDA, CSCB, and Soil Health Collaborative, and will support under the umbrella of CSCB, within CACD policy Guidelines.
Federal Legalization of Hemp: already in progress through new Farm Bill
CACD Encourage NRCS Staffing
CACD Dues Increased
Health Insurance/Liability Insurance: Bobbi has communicated with insurance providers. (Make sure Mancos is ok with changing to action item).
Looking ahead to 2020, the Interim Water Resources Committee has put forth 4 bills:
Require Public Input on Water Demand Management Program
Study Emerging Technologies for Water Management
Add Water Well Inspectors Identify High-Risk Wells
Study Strengthening Water Anti-Speculation Laws
We will continue to do our level best to execute all of your priorities at the state capitol, but will in return, ask the districts to be more involved as we move forward. We have a number of measures we will discuss in the general meeting today that will require legislation.
And like on every farm, ranch, riparian or forest area, we would love to make all the improvements at once, but we are forced to prioritize. We appreciate your help in this process, and I thank you for the opportunity to represent your interests at the state capitol.
Below is the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts Bill Tracker for 2020. Positions are set by the CACD Legislative Committee based on the updated Policy Book, with advocacy and lobbying activities carried out accordingly.
The Colorado General Assembly meets for 120 days each year, from January to May. An average of 650 bills are introduced each legislative session, including the Long Bill, the annual budget bill containing general and severance funding for conservation activities under the Department of Agriculture.
Please review and share. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact us at 719-686-0020.
If you do not see a bill on here that you feel has an impact on conservation districts and landowners we invite you to reach out us.
CACD LEGISLATIVE 2019 FALL UPDATE
Brett met with Helen Silver in early August regarding her work with CSU and Colorado Collaborative for Healthy Soils, which relates to what CACD has heard from CDA and their priority on soil health. Helen is contracting with CSU and trying to make some of the soil health concepts manageable and package them in a way they can be distributed for these conversations.
The Collaborative for Healthy Soils had their second meeting Friday, August 16, where CACD lobbyist Brett Moore and Bob Warner attended to get a sense of where this group is going and how much of this may be picked up by the department. There was a concern that producers were underrepresented at this meeting, and we will continue to work with CDA and CSCB to ensure these conversations continue to keep private landowners in mind and protect their rights.
The interim Water Committee is an annual legislative committee that explores issues around water that we keep an eye on. They had a meeting in Steamboat Springs on August 21st. They met again in Denver on September 11-12. The CACD meeting was September 11th so Brett covered their meeting on the 12th.
At the CACD face to face meeting on September 11th, Brett brought forth the legislative ranking for review, on which we base our Annual Legislator of the Year rankings, recognizing those legislators that best reflect CACD’s mission of conserving natural resources and protecting private property rights.
Additionally, CACD is reviewing policies that were passed at the 2018 annual meeting to ensure we are acting on the Districts’ priorities as voted on through the resolution process. The CACD Legislative Committee has reviewed these resolutions and discussed ways CACD can act on all of them. We focused very strongly on the ditch easement bill the last legislative session, which accruals originated from the 2017 annual meeting. Brett and the CACD legislative committee continue to discuss Brett’s recommendations of how we can advance outstanding 2018 priorities.
Brett represented CACD at the Commissioner’s Luncheon and the Pueblo Chamber Legislative Reception at the State Fair.
Director Mike Cleary added he was at a roundtable in Delta county where he met state Representative Julie McClusky. There were representatives there from US Senator Bennett’s office and US Congressman Tipton’s office, as well as some Rocky Mountain Farmers Union representatives. All were asking what the issues were that have been coming up in their areas. The first that came up was rural roads need to have a set-aside program. The second concern was the fear of hemp growing, and the potential of it becoming a noxious weed. The third issue was about keeping wild wolf reintroduction off the general ballot. CACD currently has policy opposing wolf reintroduction.
March 27, 2019
CACD has taken an “opposed” position on SB-181. This bill is not in line with CACD policy that supports the best interest of the Colorado Conservation Districts and their stakeholders.
CACD Policy Reference:
Property Rights - “CACD strongly supports the right of private landowners and managers to exercise their use of their private property. This right should be unrestricted and unencumbered by legislation and ballot initiatives. The right to own private property is a cornerstone of our society and should be preserved for the future.
Energy Resources - “CACD supports the wise use of all-natural resources including the development of energy from non-renewable sources through proven technology with reclamation conducted in accordance with current CACD reclamation policy.”
SB 181 has the potential to dramatically impact an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, both directly and indirectly. Senate Bill 181 poses broad implications to Colorado’s entire business community by creating unintended consequences that will impact more than just the oil and natural gas industry. It will definitely impact the agrarian economy of this state.
Our stated policy maintains that we support responsible development of renewable and non-renewable energy. Severance tax funds pay for continued efforts in land and water conservation in this state and this legislation will impact severance tax collection and redistribution for that purpose.
Multi-generational farmer and rancher families will be impacted. Today farmers are dealing with low commodity prices and those farms with oil and gas revenue today are definitely using mineral extraction royalties to supplement historically low farm income. This bill will cause decreasing values of land and mineral rights and that will impact generations of farm families to come. Local control will impact how farmers farm, when they farm and ultimately what they farm. Landowners care about their land and implement best management practices without excessive government oversight but this tradition will be impacted when local entities take control of regulatory processes. Property rights should be considered when evaluating the merits of this bill. Will the wealth of suburbs be taxed to make up for lost agrarian income on the local level? Probably not.
Current oil and gas regulation are already comprehensive. This bill will create expensive litigation for the state and local governments. The broad nature of this legislation will provide opportunities for anti-development, anti-business individuals to shut down oil and gas development in this state on private land. This legislation, if passed, will cripple the economy and drastically reduce the tax base of the state.
The oil and natural gas industry in Colorado support approximately 232,000 jobs and generates approximately $31.4 billion into the economy. Education funding, transportation funding, and healthcare alike all depend on the money generated from the industry and this bill poses a direct threat to that revenue.
CACD urges the legislature to slow the process down, work with colleagues to find compromise and ensure all stakeholders have an opportunity to be at the table. Please do not support legislation that would overturn the will of the voters and force the oil and gas industry out of our state. The possibility of unintended consequences in this bill deserves the time it takes to negotiate good policy that works for all of Colorado citizens.
May 24, 2019
Contact: Executive Director, Bobbi Ketels
CACD Notches 2019 Legislative Win
for Easement holders, private Landowners
Denver, Colorado – The Colorado Association of Conservation Districts (CACD) is celebrating another successful year lobbying the Colorado General Assembly, with the 2019 session wrapping up in early May. CACD counts among its successes the passage of HB19-1082, CONCERNING THE RIGHTS OF A WATER RIGHTS EASEMENT HOLDER.
At CACD’s November 2017 annual meeting, the districts approved a resolution specifically seeking clarification of state statute regarding ditch easements and the right to improve or maintain a ditch. Without the clarification, the districts had seen several examples of legal battles pitting private landowners against ditch owners.
As a result of this resolution, CACD brought the issue to the 2018 interim Water Resources Review Committee, and subsequently worked with Representatives Marc Catlin (R-Montrose) and Donald Valdez (D-La Jara) and Senator Don Coram (R-Montrose) to craft and run this legislation during the 2019 legislative session.
The bill clarifies a ditch right-of-way to include the right to maintain, repair, and improve the ditch. Prior to this legislation, it was not clear if and when improvements were allowed, creating confusion and leading to litigation. The bill was signed into law by Governor Polis on March 28, 2019.
A primary benefit of the change in law will allow maintenance and improvements such as lining or piping to reduce seepage losses from the ditch, resulting in water conservation and more efficient delivery of water for beneficial use.