Colorado Legislative Council Staff



TABOR Refund Impact

(Replaces Fiscal Note dated January 9, 1998)

State General Fund Revenue Impact

Drafting Number:

Prime Sponsor(s):

LLS 98-304

Rep. Schauer

Sen. Wattenberg


Bill Status:

Fiscal Analyst:

January 30, 1998

House 2nd Reading

Will Meyer (866-4976)



Summary of Legislation

            The provisions of this bill would make changes to the authority of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The bill as amended in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee and the House Appropriations Committee would eliminate the changes to the regulation of towing carriers. This would eliminate any expenditure impact to implement the provisions of the bill. The following provisions could affect the workload and impact the PUC:


               conduct town meetings or other informal public hearings to solicit and receive comment from customers or prospective customers of utilities and to introduce such comment in the PUC’s records;

               to assess fines up to $2,000 per violation per day, plus costs and attorney fees, against telecommunication providers that violate applicable statutory or regulatory requirements;

               set certain filing and application fees for motor vehicles to recover the PUC’s costs, rather than establishing them in statute; and

               establish any fees necessary to defray the cost of regulation of hazardous material transport carriers.


FY 1998/99

FY 1999/2000

State Revenues

General Fund - Penalties and Fines

Other Fund



State Expenditures

General Fund

Other Fund



FTE Position Change



Local Government Impact — None.

             The bill would also make the following changes that would not impact the workload of the PUC:

               adopt rules specifying the physical and operation characteristics used to distinguish luxury limousines;

               to increase the maximum contribution of class I railroads toward the cost of improving grade separations for safety purposes from $1.25 million to $2.5 million;

               exempt the office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) and public utilities from the current statutory requirement that a complaint before the PUC regarding the reasonableness of utility rates or practices be signed by 25 customers or prospective customers;

               allow hearing before the PUC to be recorded electronically, following standard practice under the “State Administrative Procedure Act”;

               to suspend or revoke the operating authority of a motor carrier that fails or refuses to pay a civil penalty assessed for violation of an applicable statute or rule; and

               make numerous other statutory housekeeping changes.

            The bill would become effective July 1, 1998, and would apply to acts occurring on after that date.

State Revenues

            The bill would authorize the PUC to assess a fine of not more than $2,000 per violation against telecommunication providers that violate PUC statute, rule, order decision, decree, direction, demand or requirement, following a hearing before the Commission. The amended bill also would authorize the PUC to assess a fine of not more than $25,000 against any Local Exchange Provider for each violation of “any order, decision, decree, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission, other than an order for the payment of money”. It also would authorize the PUC to assess additional penalties for repeat violations. Any fines assessed by the PUC could be appealed to District Court.

            This enforcement process would replace the current statutory process which requires the PUC to take telecommunication providers that violate any of the above PUC regulations to District Court to impose any fines. The bill also would transfer the burden of proof in such cases from the PUC to the telecommunication provider.

            The PUC assumes that this change would provide an incentive for telecommunication providers to comply with PUC regulations, and would not result in any significant increase in revenues to the General Fund. Any changes on the amount of fine revenues would be conditional on future violations by telecommunication providers and resultant actions of the PUC. Based on the PUC’s recent history of assessing penalties, it is estimated that new fine revenues would increase by $14,100 GF each year.

TABOR Refund Impact

            Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution, limits the maximum annual percentage increase in state fiscal year spending. Once total state revenue from all sources that are not specifically excluded from fiscal year spending exceeds these limits for the fiscal year, the state constitution requires that the excess shall be refunded in the next fiscal year unless voters approve a revenue change as an offset. Based on the current Legislative Council economic forecast, it is projected that the state will be in a TABOR refund position during each of the next five fiscal years. Any increase or decrease in state revenue from changes in fees, fines, licenses, or other revenue sources will affect the amount of the state revenue to be refunded. 

State Expenditures

            Of all of the provisions previously identified as impacting the PUC, only the provision that authorizes the PUC to regulate towing carriers by classifying towing carriers into 4 separate categories and adopting differing regulatory modes for each category would have a significant impact to the workload of the PUC. The amended bill has eliminated this provision and the expenditure impact of this bill.

Spending Authority

            This fiscal note implies that the Department of Regulatory Agencies would require no additional cash spending authority in FY 1998/99.

Departments Contacted

            Regulatory Agencies