In addition to providing updates on policy, lobbying and regulatory issues in Colorado’s legislative and executive branches, Dentons’ Colorado Government Affairs team looks at political and policy developments in Washington, DC, that are pertinent to the state. Below we discuss the difficulties that California Senator Dianne Feinstein has faced mustering support on the Hill for her water policy bill, sweeping legislation that addresses recycling, storage, desalination and grants. On the home front, we look at the Colorado legislature’s difficulty crafting budgets 25 years after the state’s voters approved TABOR, arguably the most restrictive tax and spending limitation in the country.
News and legislative highlights this week
Feinstein grappling with difficulty of water legislation
In an attempt to maximize water supply for the drought-plagued Western states, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a sweeping water policy bill that addresses recycling, storage, desalination and grants. But Feinstein admitted to the Sacramento Bee reported that she’s been having a tough time achieving buy-in from her Senate colleagues for the $1.3 billion initiative. In fact, the effort has been more challenging than her repeated attempts to renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004. The water bill, she told the publication’s editorial board, has already undergone 26 drafts, with 43 amendments in the last version alone.
The EPA is adjusting its priorities in the wake of criticism to their response to the Gold King Mine spill
The EPA’s top lawyer said that in the wake of the Flint, MI, lead drinking water and Gold King mine spill crises, the agency is adjusting its priorities to put greater focus on public health issues.
Read more at Law360 (subscription required)
Colorado legislature is budget, budget, budget, this week
The Colorado legislature debates the state budget this week and next with this year’s budget starting in the House. The $27 billion dollar budget, crafted by the Joint Budget Committee, is always a shell game of balance with the committee eliminating $59 million in taxpayer refunds under TABOR.
Colorado rain-barrel bill back on track, advances to Senate
HB 1005 by Senator Michael Merrifield advanced allowing rain barrels to capture water under the supervision of the state engineer. Three Republicans voted against the bill in the Senate committee, but the bill will advance to the full Senate floor. The bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the House.
Colorado AG Coffman is weighing litigation in Gold King Mine spill
Addressing leaking mines throughout the state has become a priority, while Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is still looking into litigation regarding the Gold King Mine spill from August 2015.