05-23-18 CCA’s Inside the Dome: 2018 Legislative Session Wrap-up

CCA’s Inside the Dome: 2018 Legislative Session Wrap-up

As with all legislative sessions, there are some ups and downs with victories and defeats, but Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) continues to achieve a majority of member priorities. The following will outline several session highlights CCA focused on this year during the 2018 Legislative Session.

Conservation Easements – The harmful bills that would require private information to be publicly disclosed or cost landowners hard-earned dollars were killed. CCA and Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT), as a team, led an effort to relocate the easement oversight board to a new division of government, create an alternative tax credits valuation process for landowners who have lower development values but also great conservation actions, and to develop a process whereby historic orphan/at risk easements can utilize this alternative valuation approach to seek better financial stability and end the decade-long conflict around the easement program, which is a significant step for land trusts and landowners.

Country of Origin Labeling – CCA has policy that supports voluntary COOL. CCA opposed a bill this session that was unconstitutional and would have implemented a costly traceability program that would be funded by cow/calf producers and feeders. CCA members are proud of their product, and consumers want to know where their food comes from; but there is a right and wrong way to go about this. CCA must continue to promote a responsible and honest approach to labeling that creates benefit, not harm, to producers and consumers. Remember, all things are not created equally… especially laws like this.

Call Before You Dig – Previous to this bill, agriculture has an exemption to not call 811 if they are not excavating. This new legislation now requires you to call when digging a new post-hole, regardless of where you are. CCA believes in safety, but this is unacceptable when you are very likely in the middle of a ranch with no likelihood of being near a buried line. This is a complex piece of legislation that CCA will engage 811’s administration on with an eye toward correct legislation, if needed.

Transportation Funding – Citizens will have an opportunity to vote on a referred measure to fund transportation infrastructure. The legislature wrangled with this legislation until the last weeks of session. The funding mechanism is through bonding, and will be allocated through DOT’s existing formula. CCA supported putting this measure in front of voters.

Lottery – CCA supported the extension of the state lottery, which in turn funds Great Outdoors Colorado. These dollars fund local communities, wildlife/endangered species actions, easements, and studies that are meaningful to agriculture and landowners… not to mention the citizens of Colorado.

Parks and Wildlife Revenue – CCA supported legislation that would allow for a modest increase to in-state license fees and match any future increase to the CPI. Endangered species and recreational impact management is critical to landowners… these dollars will continue proactive management in these areas and others.

Delegation of Land Use – CCA adamantly opposed this now-dead legislative proposal that would have allowed county commissioners to delegate their authority to a volunteer land use commission.

Ports of Entry – CCA supported a proposal to allow agriculture haulers to not divert to a port of entry if it were out of their direct path of transit. This legislation died under scrutiny of the ports under claims of safety. CCA supports bringing this issue back in future sessions.

Election of County Commissioners by District – Urbanization of Colorado is diminishing landowners’ voices at the county level and ultimately impacting land use, etc. CCA monitored this legislation with some concerns. Ultimately the bill failed, but these circumstances do need addressed even though this legislation was not ripe for consideration.

State Land Leases – Legislation was introduced that would disallow the State Land Board from sharing in any proceeds from a successful transfer of a state land lease to a new lessee. CCA supports this approach and looks forward to an agreed-upon discussion to address these concerns. In light of this agreement, the legislation was withdrawn.

If you want to help shape the basis of policy that CCA lobbies for in the state legislature, then attend CCA steering committee meetings at CCA Annual Convention. Members involvement in shaping the organization’s policy is the foundational pillar of Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

Visit the CCA tracking list to see the complete list of bills CCA took positions on.