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Colorado lawmakers passed several bills that offer economic relief, others that add fees

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Posted at 4:21 PM, Jun 10, 2021

DENVER — After 116 days in session, Colorado lawmakers wrapped up their work Tuesday, passing some bills focused on providing economic relief to businesses and families and others that will increase fees.

Here is a list of a few of the bills that could have an impact on your wallet if the governor signs them into law:

Transportation

Democratic leaders pushed for and passed a bill to provide some of the biggest funding for infrastructure and transit the state has seen in decades.

In order to achieve that, however, new fees will begin to kick in starting July 2022:

  • 2 cents per gallon of gas gradually increasing to 8 cents by 2028
  • 27 cents on retail delivery fees
  • 15-30 cents on ride shares, like Uber and Lyft
  • $2 per day on car rentals
  • $3 on hybrid car registration gradually increasing to $27
  • $4 on fully electric cars gradually increasing to $96

On the other hand, FASTER fees on vehicle registrations will be decreased over the next two years to help people recover from the pandemic. The fees will drop by $11.10 next year and $5.50 in 2023 before returning to their current rate in January 2024.

“When you look at the transportation bill, yes there is quite a bit of fee revenue in there. It’s on the users of our roads and the different infrastructure that it’s going to be invested in, and a lot of that includes consumers, as well as businesses. That’s why all the major business organizations, for the most part, at the Capitol really were standing with us to support that and helped us to even craft those policies to help us strike the right balance,” said Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder.

However, Republicans disagreed with the bill and fought against it. House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, argued that while the FASTER fee cuts are temporary, the fee increases are permanent and will affect families.

“I think the losers are the people of Colorado. I think that we keep putting stuff on the backs of families, and I think it’s wrong,” McKean said.

Plastics bill

House Bill 1162 works to phase out single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene food containers by imposing a new fee.

Starting in 2031, a 10 cent per bag fee will be enacted in grocery stores. Starting in 2024, single-use plastic carryout bags will be prohibited in stores and retail food establishments as will polystyrene containers.

Localities will be given leeway to be able to enforce their own, more stringent rules starting in 2024.

Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, described the bill as a product of several years of hard work and compromise, saying the final version that was passed involved a lot of give and take.

“I think it was being environmental stewards and making sure that we leave a better Colorado for the next generation, especially those of us who would really like to enjoy our outdoors and recreating and water and making sure that the lands are not full of plastic,” Garcia said.

Property tax bill

Another bill lawmakers passed this session would temporarily reduce the tax assessment rates for some property owners.

Currently, the assessment rate for residential homes is 7.15%. Under the bill, the assessment rate for multi-family homes would drop to 6.8% and 6.95% for single-family homes.

Some commercial properties would also see temporary reductions in their assessment rates. Agricultural properties and land used for renewable energy would see a decrease in their rates from 29% to 26.4% temporarily.

“We reduced the business personal property tax or actually increase the cap on it, which is a big thing,” McKean said.

Tax reduction bills

Along with passing major transportation, pubic health and police reform bills, lawmakers also passed some of the biggest changes to the tax code the state has seen in years.

House Bill 1311 and 1312 dealt with income taxes and liability.

Starting in 2022, all social security will be income tax deductible for state returns.

Meanwhile, the capital gains tax, which are taxes on land, stocks, business sales, etc., will be eliminated as will pass-through deductions for business owners. New caps on itemized deductions will be imposed on those earning $400,000 or more. The new cap will be $30,000 for individual filers.

There will also be new caps placed on deductions for college savings plans of $15,000.

The bills also expand the child tax credit to make it available for families with children age six and under who earn $85,000 or less or for individuals who earn $75,000 or less.

The earned income tax credit is increased to 20% under the bills and thee business personal property tax exemption would be increased to $50,000.

Other fees

The environmental justice bill will, if signed, impose new fees on the industry, electric and oil and gas sectors. The fees will be dependent on their greenhouse gas emissions on a per ton basis over set limits.

A bill to modernize the Public Utilities Commission will require an organized wholesale market fee.

Another bill will allow third-parties to perform vehicle titling and registration duties but will rely on a $3 per transaction fee on those providers, which can be passed down to customers.

A bill dealing with composting and recycling will impose a fee on food service packaging that will gradually increase over time for businesses.

A bill aimed at providing peer support for professional behavioral health services will impose $200 fees on roughly 25 peer support professional support services.

A natural disaster mitigation enterprise bill will impose a fee on insurance companies that provide coverage for fire, allied lines, etc.

Democrats viewed the legislative session as a productive one where many of their key priorities were accomplished.

“Democrats have prioritized helping those most in need right now, those businesses as well and then providing those tax breaks is for working families so that the tax code reflects the fairness that we all expect and so that we can sort of modernize our tax code in the future,” said Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver.

Fenberg, meanwhile, said many businesses were involved in the crafting of many of the bills, and so they shouldn’t be too surprised by the new fees involved.

Republicans, however, believe the result of the session will be more money out of people’s wallets.

“Right now the people of Colorado are being asked to give a lot,” McKean said.

The implementation of these bills are dependent on the governor’s signature and would happen at different times.