Joey BunchJoey BunchMarch 10, 201813min500


Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 14, 20175min885

As often is the case, the Colorado Municipal League is the go-to source to explain complicated issues that we untrained reporters struggle to fully grasp. That’s the case with the tax bugaboo that has Gov. John Hickenlooper working on plans to call lawmakers back to Denver for a special session next month.

The mistake was introduced when the legislature hurriedly passed Senate Bill 267 at the end of the last session to reclassify the state’s hospital provider fee. The aim was to get it out from under a constitutional spending cap in order to drum up money for rural hospitals and transportation without — only technically — a tax increase.

For special districts, however, it was a significant tax decrease, which was never lawmakers’ aim.

In July CML’s deputy director, Kevin Bommer, wrote the clearest, most definitive explanation to date that Pulitzer Prize-winning publications in Colorado could only admire.

A critical part of the deal was an increase in marijuana taxes that will fund other portions of the deal, such as a business personal property tax credit. However, the decision to exempt marijuana from the state’s base sales tax and increase the special sales tax rate was made on the fly. The resulting fallout has become a cautionary tale for many in the state that blame local sales taxes for being complicated but fail to look at state policies that muddy the waters.

Bommer cited some reporting from the venerable Denver Post, but noted the state’s newspaper of record wasn’t the first to take a shot explaining the legislative quagmire. He’s right. The driver of this political conversation was Sherrie Peif of Complete Colorado. The Post rode her reporting coat tails four days later.

“As a general rule, changes in the state sales tax base automatically apply to statutory entities – statutory municipalities, counties, and special districts,” Bommer explained in his July 24 blog. “With over 80 different state sale tax exemptions on the books and legislation every session that propose more, the Colorado Municipal League is perennially busy ensuring that the state’s decision to exempt something from its own base does not automatically exempt it in statutory municipalities. (Home rule municipalities are thankfully unaffected by state exemptions, and such decisions on exemptions are purely local)

“The process was no different for SB 267.”

Read Boomer’s excellent Legislative Matters blog here.

Special session in the works to fix error in hospital provider fee bill

There were critics that the compromise was being rushed through at the time. One of the most clear and notable was Michael Fields, Americans for Prosperity’s Colorado clutch man who urged lawmakers to slow down and think deeply instead of swiftly on far-reaching tax policy. For years, the GOP has been resistant to reclassifying the hospital provider fee, because it represented monkeying with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the constitutional amendment that conservatives revere like Reagan because it caps state spending.

Fields enjoyed an I-told-you-so moment Wednesday night after Colorado Politics was the first to report that Gov. John Hickenlooper’s staff is working on dates for the special session.

He said on Twitter:

Ernest LuningErnest LuningMay 22, 20176min980

After serving as chief of staff for the Colorado Senate Republicans for five sessions, Jesse Mallory takes over as state director of Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, the influential conservative organization announced Monday. AFP-Colorado’s previous state director, Michael Fields, was named senior director of issue education for the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a related organization, he announced on Twitter on the last day of the legislative session earlier this month.

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 22, 20173min531

With Americans For Prosperity’s Michael Fields moving up from state director to take on a broader portfolio for the conservative, pro-free market, national advocacy group, Jesse Mallory — chief of staff for the ruling state Senate Republicans — has been tapped to fill Fields’s shoes.

The AFP announced the move this afternoon, quoting Mallory:

Mallory is no stranger to Colorado politics and brings to the organization deep relational connections to both Republicans and Democrats under the golden dome.

“I look forward to fighting for policies that promote economic freedom for the citizens of Colorado,” states Mallory.  “As chief of staff in the senate majority office for the last three years, I’m acquainted with the importance of reaching across the aisle.”

Mallory continues, “AFP is a nonpartisan organization driven by a policy agenda that strives to keep taxes low and hold government accountable for spending, informing citizens, and working with like-minded elected officials to get the job done. The bottom line – Coloradans deserve more of their hard earned money in their own bank accounts, not the state account.”

The national AFP is regarded as one of the most influential advocacy and organizing groups in the conservative political movement. Among other things, AFP is credited with having helped transform the Tea Party phenomenon into a cohesive political force.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, issued a statement praising Mallory:

…Naturally, we’re saddened by his departure but also pleased that he’ll be working for an organization we have a lot of respect for, even when we differ at times on policy details. Jesse brought a lot of passion, experience and street smarts to his work; he deserves a good measure of credit, in my opinion, for the fact that Republicans regained control of the Colorado State Senate. …

Grantham also announced Ariana Busby, who began working for Senate Republicans in 2013 as an intern and rose to policy director, will replace Mallory.