An unprecedented state legislative session

The 2020 state legislative session was unprecedented. The legislature recessed in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic and returned May 26. When legislators returned, the proposed state budget had a $3.3 billion shortfall because of declining tax revenues. As a result, many proposals were withdrawn due to lack of funding.

IREA worked on several bills this session, advocating on behalf of our customers:

Sen. Chris Hansen (D), District 31, introduced Senate Bill 20-190, Boost Renewable Energy Transmission Investment, to increase transmission across the state and help move toward a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO). As this was IREA’s top priority this legislative session, we supported this bill. The bill was postponed early in June, however, due to the impacts of the pandemic. We firmly believe an RTO is the most cost-effective way of achieving renewable energy and carbon reduction goals across the state, and we will continue to work with Sen. Hansen and others in the next legislative session to make an RTO a reality in Colorado.

House Bill 20-1025, Sales Tax Exemption Industrial and Manufacturing Energy Use, was introduced early in the session by Reps. Adrienne Benavidez (D), District 32, and Marc Snyder (D), District 18. Current law exempts the sale and purchase of electricity used for manufacturing and industrial uses. This bill would have required that exempt accounts be separately metered. IREA opposed this bill because we believe it an unnecessary step for our customers and utilities to take. The bill’s mandates would have added expenses to commercial and industrial customers and increased workload in configuring, installing and monitoring multiple meters. The bill was postponed indefinitely in committee in late May.

House Bill 20-1145, Move Over or Slow Down for Official Vehicle, by Rep. Hugh McKean (R), District 51, and Sens. Chris Holbert (R), District 30, and Leroy Garcia (D), District 3, was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis in early April. In a previous legislative session, IREA supported the Move Over for Cody bill – named for Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue – which expanded the penalties for not moving over or slowing down when approaching an emergency vehicle, towing carrier vehicle or public utility service vehicle. This session’s bill defined the safe speed when approaching such vehicles as 25 miles per hour or less if the speed limit is less than 45 mph, and 20 mph less than the posted speed limit if the speed limit is above 45 mph. IREA supported this bill because our personnel routinely conduct work on road sides and we want to help ensure their safety while doing so.

IREA supported House Bill 20-1412, COVID-19 Utility Bill Payment-Related Assistance, by Reps. Chris Kennedy (D), District 23, and Lisa Cutter (D), District 25, and Sens. Tammy Story (D), District 16, and Rachel Zenzinger (D), District 19. This bill transfers $4.8 million from funds received by the state under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into the Energy Outreach Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund to help Coloradans pay their utility bills due to COVID-19 hardship. IREA supported this bill because we understand the difficulties many of our customers are facing during this pandemic.

House Bill 20-1420, Adjust Tax Expenditures For State Education Fund, by Reps. Matt Gray (D), District 33, and Emily Sirota (D), District 9, and Sens. Hansen and Dominick Moreno (D), District 21, was introduced in an attempt to increase funding to K-12 education. The introduced bill would have removed multiple tax exemptions extended to small businesses, the tax exemption on the purchase of electricity used for manufacturing and industrial uses, and a tax exemption on coal used to generate electricity. IREA worked with many others to heavily amend this bill. The legislature removed all provisions directly associated with energy and pared down many of the other proposed eliminations of tax credits for small business. This bill passed on the last day of session, June 15, and was signed by the governor in July.

The legislature adjourned on June 15 and is scheduled to convene its next session Jan. 13, 2021. If you have not already, please sign up for our Legislative Alerts via our Contact Us page. Submit an inquiry using the contact form and subject “Legislative Alert Sign Up.” We will send you updates on legislative actions and, in some cases, may ask for your help regarding specific bills that affect you.