Colorado state lawmakers reveal opposing goals for the 2016 legislative session

DENVER - Schools will get less funding and roads will have no funding unless lawmakers change the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, according to state Democrats.

House and Senate Democrats revealed their goals for the 2016 legislative session on Monday. The 120-day session begins one week from Wednesday.

The House Speaker said that lawmakers need to "fix" TABOR, so that the state can keep revenue to help fund education and transportation.

"We are going to have to cut education this year, if we don't find a solution. We have no money for transportation. We need to invest in infrastructure, particularly transportation. And we need to continue to find ways to address climate change and to protect that wonderful environment that brings so many people here," said House Speaker, State. Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder.

The leadership met to discuss bills that will start being introduced next week.

They highlighted their goals, including bills that focus on:

  • Affordable housing
  • Workforce development
  • Small business chip credit card readers
  • Employee wages

On the topic of affordable housing, Democratic leaders discussed an idea that would raise money instead of lower prices.

"We're working to raise wages across the state of Colorado," said House Majority Leader, State Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver. "We are working very hard to come up with some innovative solutions to tackle the skyrocketing costs of housing in Colorado. First step, raise wages; second step, let's look at housing policy."

She also referenced a bill that would allow first-time homebuyers an option to save money tax free, allowing the money to be spent on a down payment or closing costs.

She also discussed a bill that would close, what she called, an 'offshore tax haven,' for corporations.

"If there are corporations that hide profits overseas or in other countries, in an effort to avoid income taxes, we need to make sure there's accountability around that," said Duran. "That will generate about $150 million by making sure there's not loopholes in the law that benefit large corporations. If this bill is passed, and that $150 million is generated, that will go directly toward public schools."

Senate Democrats also revealed bills to be introduced, including one that would address differing costs of the new chip credit card readers that small businesses will have to buy.

"Individual companies are paying different prices for these terminals," said Senate Minority Leader, State Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver. "If you are a small business owner and you sell vacuum cleaners in Highlands Ranch, and you really cannot afford to pay $1,500 for that, why is it that someone across the street is paying $200 or $300 for that? How do we help level that playing field?"

In an email, House Republicans revealed some of the bills they plan to unveil in 2016.

According to the email, one bill sponsored by State Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, will require state agencies to issue written warnings to small businesses for minor, first-time violations of new rules, instead of issuing a fine.

Another bill will address construction defects and lawsuits filed against developers. The legislation would alter what developers could be sued for, making it easier for developers to build homes and condominiums, without fear of lawsuit.

Multiple cities, including Denver, have recently changed construction defect laws. A similar bill sponsored by House Minority Leader, State Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, was killed last year.

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