Discussion of Legislation
COMMITTEE ON JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE ON JOB CREATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
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The meeting came to order. A quorum was present.
10:32 AM -- Discussion of Legislation
Senator Schwartz opened the meeting with a discussion of the bills that were distributed to the committee (Attachment A). Senator Schwartz explained that the joint resolution authorizing the jobs committee allows the committee to recommend bills to the General Assembly and exempts such bills from several deadlines. The discussion of the legislation follows.
10:32 AM -- House Bill 09-1001 - Representative Rice, Prime Sponsor
Representative Rice discussed HB 09-1001, which provides an income tax credit for job growth in Colorado. He stated that he would like it to allow for flexibility in rural areas.
Discussion ensued about whether the tax credit would create jobs. Concerns were raised by committee members that the legislation may give tax credits to companies that would be coming to Colorado anyway. Representative Rice said he also wants to ensure the bill would have its intended effect. He then responded to questions about the fiscal impact of the tax credit, projected revenue increases, and assisting both small and large businesses.
10:46 AM -- Senate Bill 09-031 - Senator Heath, Prime Sponsor
Senator Heath discussed SB 09-031, which promotes energy technology. Senator Heath stated that the bill aims to take a strong aspect of Colorado's economy and give it a potential boost, and the bill has three primary components and objectives. First, he said the bill adds a tire waste fee of $1.75 per tire, amounting to about $3.3 million per year for a grant program for new products being developed in laboratories. Secondly, the bill allocates 25 percent of the funds collected for early-stage companies that need assistance taking their products to the next level in the marketplace. Third, the bill supports the laboratories in Colorado. Senator Heath explained that SB 09-031 is modeled after the bio science bill that the General Assembly passed several years ago and he is hopeful that his proposal will produce similar results.
Senator Heath responded to questions from the committee. Concerns were raised by members about increasing waste tire fees. Senator Heath said he believes it is a good use of funds and if another source of revenue could be found, he is willing to listen to those ideas. He further stated that 20 companies have arisen out of the legislation passed a few years ago and this is a good opportunity to boost potential new companies in Colorado.
Senator Heath also responded to questions about whether the bill was only targeting specific industries in Colorado. He explained that it makes sense to specifically target the bio sciences industry where Colorado currently has a unique competitive advantage.
The following witnesses testified:
11:05 AM -- Mr. David Hiller, representing the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, testified in support of the legislation. He stated that matching funds are a good magnet to capture new business; the vast majority of companies he works with are small, start-up companies, and the bio sciences industry in Colorado is competing both nationally and globally.
11:09 AM -- Mr. David Allen, University of Colorado, testified in support of the legislation. He stated that the bill would help to accelerate the creation and development of new businesses and economic opportunities in Colorado.
11:11 AM -- Ms. Christine Shapard, representing the Colorado Clean Technology Industry Association, testified that there is a connection between waste tires and start-up companies promoting new energy ideas. She stated that start-up companies receiving grants funded by waste tire fees are working to bring services and products to the marketplace that minimize human impacts on the environment.
11:12 AM -- HB 09-1149 - Representative Merrifield, Prime Sponsor
Representative Merrifield spoke about House Bill 09-1149 and explained that it will encourage construction of new homes that make cost-effective use of solar energy. According to Representative Merrifield, the bill has the potential to create new jobs and incorporates purchases of solar technology into the homebuyer's original mortgage, if the homeowner chooses. He responded to questions from the committee about the costs of the bill to builders versus buyers.
The following witness testified:
11:15 AM -- Mr. Jeff Lyng, Governor's Energy Office, responded to questions from the committee about why the bill only offers an incentive for solar energy. He stated that there the bill could expand to other renewable energy systems. He also answered questions about the negative impacts of expanding the mortgage, noting that it would be the homebuyers' decision, and will typically result in significant cost savings over time. Committee members expressed support for including additional renewable energy sources in the bill.
11:32 AM -- Senate Bill 09-067 - Senator Heath, Prime Sponsor
Senator Heath explained Senate Bill 09-067. The bill allows the Colorado Economic Development Commission to contract with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) for operating the Colorado Credit Reserve program, which provides credit to small businesses in Colorado. He explained that the bill is designed to help companies who cannot obtain a loan from a commercial bank to get started in the market. CHFA has been forced to shut down the credit program, and the bill provides $2.5 million to get the program running again.
The following witness testified:
11:37 AM -- Mr. Jaime Gomez, CHFA, testified in support of the legislation. He stated that he sees the program as a successful tool to generate money in additional bank loans. Mr. Gomez distributed statistics about the Colorado Credit Reserve Program (Attachment B).
11:41 AM -- New Energy Economy Training Programs - Senator Schwartz
Senator Schwartz discussed a draft bill to train employees for jobs in the energy sector. She explained the details of the bill are still being drafted. Senator Schwartz responded to questions from the committee about the possible source of funding for the program.
11:44 AM -- Inventory of Broadband Services Areas - Senator Schwartz
Senator Schwartz discussed a proposal to create an inventory of broadband service areas, funded from the General Fund. She stated that Representative Liston is also working with her on the idea.
11:47 AM -- Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Provisional Certification - Senator Schwartz
Senator Schwartz discussed a draft bill to provide provisional Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification. She stated that there is a need to clarify EMT certification and get these individuals working in Colorado. Discussion ensued about the bill's implications for economic development.
11:51 AM -- Mr. Chris Howes, representing the Emergency Medical Service Association of Colorado (EMSAC), testified in support of the bill. He explained that there are currently positions open in rural Colorado for EMT employees, and that the bill will help get these individual working.
11:54 AM -- Transportation Systems Bill - Representative Rice and Senator Gibbs
Representative Rice spoke about a bill for transportation system planning and funding. He explained that it is still being finalized and the committee heard a presentation on the draft bill on January 13, 2009. Discussion ensued about several areas of transportation policy, including vehicle miles, fees, and cost.
12:00 PM -- Phase Out of Business and Personal Property Taxes - Senator Scheffel
Senator Scheffel described a draft bill to begin phasing out the business personal property tax. He said he realizes this tax revenue goes to local governments but estimated the fiscal impact will only be about $5 million. He stated that the tax is onerous to business in Colorado. The committee discussed the proposal and Senator Scheffel responded to several questions from the committee. He stated phasing out the tax will occur over time to minimize the impacts on smaller counties in the state.
The committee also discussed the business personal property tax as a source of revenue to local governments. Several members raised questions as to why local governments could not find other sources of revenue and why the state had to ensure a revenue stream for these governments.
Senator Scheffel continued responding to questions and comments on the draft bill. He stated that current models cannot measure how many jobs can be created if the tax policy is changed.
12:20 PM -- House Bill 09-1035 - Senator Heath, Prime Sponsor
Senator Heath distributed a copy of House Bill 09-1035 to committee members (Attachment C). He stated that the bill is designed to assist medical device companies headquartered in Colorado and will eliminate sales tax for smaller companies in the start-up phase. Senator Heath said that the fiscal note is still being prepared and the bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Finance Committee on January 27, 2009.
12:23 PM -- Temporary Income Tax Credit for Homebuyers - Representative Liston
Representative Liston distributed a copy of a bill (Attachment D) to provide a temporary tax credit for new home buyers. He stated that the bill is limited in scope but aims to provide incentives to encourage new home construction. He responded to questions from the committee about the number of home values and the cost of the bill, and expressed willingness to address these concerns when the fiscal note has been completed.
The committee returned to Senator Scheffel's draft bill to phase out the business personal property tax. Senator Schwartz raised the idea of an interim committee, and members indicated one had been created several years ago that studied this idea. Senator Scheffel stated he will review any past information and would like to work with the committee on this bill.
The chair closed discussion on proposed legislation.