Date: 01/29/2009



Votes: View--> Action Taken:
Refer Senate Bill 09-052 to the Committee on FinanPASS

02:22 PM -- Senate Bill 09-052

Senator Bacon, sponsor of Senate Bill 052, presented the bill the committee. The bill eliminates the transfer of a portion of fee revenue from the Waste Tire Recycling Development Cast Fund to the Advanced Technology Fund and instead diverts the revenue to the Innovative Higher Education Research Fund. Senator Bacon provided a handout illustrating how the $1.50 fee under the Colorado Waste Tire Program is distributed (Attachment E).


02:26 PM

The following persons testified:

02:26 PM --
David Skaggs, Executive Director of the Department of Higher Education (DHE) and Governor's appointee to and chairman of the Higher Education Competitive Research Authority Board of Directors, testified in support of the bill. He described legislation passed in 2007 that established the Innovative Higher Education Research Fund. He commented that, before the 2007 legislation, Colorado has less to bring to the table that its neighbors in competing for highly sought after federal research grants. He said most other states have more money for matching these grants. Director Skaggs described two grants received by the state, saying that, with a state match of $400,000 a year for each, $16 million in federal funds are received over the several-year grant period. He talked about the studies the grants fund and the jobs created through the research activities. He referred to a handout (Attachment F) illustrating the companies in Boulder County that can trace their market position, core technology, or products to the University of Colorado and the research and development work done there. Director Skaggs responded to committee questions.

In response to a question from Senator Hudak, Director Skaggs said Colorado is woefully underfunded compared to the states it competes with. Senator Heath talked about concerns posed by the Boulder County Board of Commissioners, who say the bill is a step backward on the state's recycling and greening goals. Director Skaggs responded, saying that as a matter of basic legislative philosophy, the General Assembly is always faced with decisions about how to spend moneys, and it is in the discretion of the General Assembly to decide if this is the best use of the money. He noted that the lion's share of the money from the recycled tire fee will continue to go to recycling programs.

02:38 PM

Committee questions for Director Skaggs continued. He responded to a question from Senator Romer about the companies shown on Attachment F. Senator Heath asked if there was consideration to raising the fee by 15 cents rather than diverting the 15 cents. Director Skaggs said it had been considered, and explained why that idea was not pursued. In response to a question from Senator Spence, Director Skaggs said he spoke to Jim Martin, Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment (DPHE), around the diversion of funds, and DPHE supports the diversion.


02:42 PM --
Marjorie Griek, representing Colorado Association for Recycling (CAFR), testified in opposition to the bill. Ms. Griek talked about the 2007 legislation, and said CAFR has given up 40 percent of its funding due to that legislation diverting funding to the Innovative Higher Education Research Fund. She said there is currently about $600,000 in the fund being used for recycling and waste diversion research, and said it is the only funding for that purpose available in Colorado. She talked about the grant funding going to universities, comparing it to the funding to the CAFR. She talked about the waste tire disposal fee, its establishment, and its uses. She told the committee about other entities that oppose the bill, and how some of those entities are using money in the Advanced Technology Fund. She talked about the drop in commodity prices, and the impact on the recycling industry.

Ms. Griek responded to committee questions.

02:51 PM --
Daniel Stonebarger, representing CAFR and AcuGreen, testified in opposition of the bill. He talked about the impact of the loss of funding to his company and to the industry. Mr. Stonebarger responded to questions from the committee.

02:56 PM

Senator Bacon commented on the testimony, talking about where the money is being diverted from and to. Discussion between Mr. Stonebarger and Senator Bacon about where the fee dollars are going ensued.

02:58 PM --
Juri Freeman, representing himself, testified in opposition to the bill. He explained that he is working under a grant to increase public recycling. He said the fee is the only place for funding for recycling research. He said many jobs are created from recycling, and said the timing for the bill is bad, as commodity prices are way down. He said the bill goes against the green direction the state and nation are going.

Senator Bacon responded to the testimony.

03:02 PM --
Michael Katz, representing his company, Smart Walls, testified in opposition to the bill. He talked about how his business has used the grant program to develop new technology and uses of waste tires. He said new ideas continue to come up, and they need the money to continue with their research. He talked about working with students from the Colorado School of Mines on his projects.

03:05 PM --
Dale Halling, ECOsight, testified in opposition to the bill. He explained his work and talked about how the existing research fund is used.

03:07 PM --
Kathi Delahoy, Colorado State University, testified in support of the bill. She talked about university research as an economic driver, talking specifically about Colorado State University. She said the opportunity to participate in research enhances students' learning. She talked about the impact of the proposed bill in improving competitiveness around getting outside research funding. Ms. Delahoy talked about current research projects happening at Colorado State University and the impact of those projects.

Senator Bacon responded to a committee question, saying that many research grants require a state match.

03:16 PM --
John Poate, Colorado School of Mines, testified in support of the bill. He talked about a specific grant, saying the School of Mines got the first grant in renewable energy research. The award is focused on three areas of research. He said they would not have received the award without the match from the state. He talked about the multiplier effect.

Dr. Poate responded to committee comments. He talked about the three research universities in the state working together.

03:20 PM --
Michael Poliakoff, University of Colorado, testified in support of the bill. He said grants provide a very high return to the state with zero risk. He said no funds are spent until National Science Foundation (NSF) grants are approved. Dr. Poliakoff said grants have immediate impact, as well as enduring impact. He talked about how grant moneys are used. He talked about a specific project at the University of Colorado - Boulder and its impact. He talked about what neighboring states spend on state matching funds. He said the institutions cannot maintain their standing with the NSF without more state matching dollars.

Dr. Poliakoff responded to committee questions.

03:26 PM

Senator Bacon gave closing comments to the bill. He responded to comments and questions from the committee.
TIME: 03:31:07 PM
MOTION:Refer Senate Bill 09-052 to the Committee on Finance. The motion passed on a 7-0-1 vote.
King K.

03:32 PM

The committee took a brief recess.