Pinnacol Travel Bill Goes To Committee

Senate Sponsor Says She Is Researching Taking Away Pinnacol's Tax Exemption

Legislators announced that a bill prompted by a CALL7 Investigation into spending by Pinnacol Assurance will be heard in committee Thursday.

“We know about the infamous Pinnacol Pebble Beach trip in 2010,” said House Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo. “I want to go through this so people understand the importance of why we’re running this bill.”

Pace read off details 7News reported about the $318,000 golf trip Pinnacol took to Pebble Beach in May, including nearly $40,000 for golf and spa and a dinner that cost nearly $20,000. He also said that money should have been spent to lower rates for businesses or help injured workers -- not on a golf trip. He mentioned other Pinnacol trips, including one to South Carolina that cost more than $100,000, reported by 7News.

The bill, which was also praised by Colorado Common Cause, will limit state agencies to travel that is no more than twice the per diem allowed by the IRS. In Denver, that would be $207 a day for food and lodging, Pace said.

Sen. Lois Tochtrop, an Adams County Democrat who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, thanked 7News for reporting the story and fighting in court to get the records.

“I’m very happy that Channel 7 did what they did as far as bringing this issue forward. It was great, and we’re moving forward on this because the people are upset,” she said.

She also said that she is looking to into whether the state can pull Pinnacol’s tax exemption, which would add $2 million a year into state coffers for education.

Tochtrop was asked about a controversy in her committee last week during the confirmation of three new board members. During the committee hearing, Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, asked one of the nominees, who is a Senate staffer, what his recommendation to the Senate President about taking money from Pinnacol last year to balance the state budget.

Tochtrop interceded and told John Cevette he did not have to answer the question. Republicans criticized that during the full Senate confirmation Monday, but Tochtrop said it was in her authority as chairwoman to limit questions.

She also indicated bringing up the controversy during Cevette's confirmation might have been a stalling tactic by Republicans because Pinnacol Chief Executive Officer Ken Ross’ bonus will be voted on by the new board Wednesday.

Pinnacol officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the legislation.

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