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Gay marriage, parking, property taxes at the Colorado Legislature



The Colorado Legislature will provide updates on housing, guns and tax reform on Saturday

For the second year in a row, the sounds of Cinco de Mayo echoed throughout the Capitol as lawmakers scrambled Saturday to reach agreement on proposed reforms to the state’s land use and property tax policies.

The 120-day legislative session ends Wednesday and lawmakers are still grappling with some of the session’s big proposals, albeit with some breakthroughs on issues that threatened to eat up valuable time — while other potential hot spots emerged.

The Senate on Saturday passed a significantly relaxed ban on minimum parking requirements, one of several proposed land-use reforms that emerged from the failure of last year’s omnibus proposal. The original bill was intended to ban parking minimums in many Colorado cities and suburbs. To blunt opposition, sponsor Sen. Nick Hinrichsen, a Pueblo Democrat, limited the ban only to areas along transit corridors. (Senators also insulted Hinrichsen by offering an amendment that would eliminate his parking spot at the Capitol.)

“It will save a lot of money for builders, and they will be able to offer more products in the form of affordable housing, to actually build housing, as opposed to building parking lots and housing for people who don’t necessarily want a parking spot. ” said Senator Kevin Priola, a Democrat from Henderson and sponsor of the bill.

The proposal, House Bill 1304, will now have to return to the House of Representatives for reconsideration. Meanwhile, two other major land use proposals — one to increase the number of accessory housing units throughout the state and another to increase density along transit corridors — still must be formally passed by the Senate after passing the House of Representatives. Some senators have expressed concern about both as a possible move on local control.

Meanwhile, lawmakers negotiating a proposed long-term property tax reform continued to rush around the Capitol trying to reach a deal. It must be implemented by Monday to allow enough time to clear the building before the end of the regular session — and avoid another possible special session on property taxes.

In addition to filling a tax policy gap left by the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment and giving property owners a break on rising property taxes, they are trying to counter ballot initiatives that would severely impact property tax collections. would limit. Proponents of the initiatives argue that the aim is to prevent government from growing faster than paychecks and keep homeowners solvent. But administration officials, including some elected Republicans, warn that would lead to draconian cuts to state and local government services.

Parties on all sides of the negotiations say they are reaching a deal, but it is still being fine-tuned – and not guaranteed.

“We are trying very hard,” said Dave Davia, president of Colorado Concern, a business group that supports some of the initiatives, adding that they are hoping for a legislative solution.

Other priority bills for Democratic leadership advanced quickly Saturday.

The Senate has formally passed a pair of bills to reduce emissions from oil and gas production and impose a per-barrel fee to pay for transit and wildlife habitat. The bills were introduced this week to ease simmering tensions between environmental groups, lawmakers and industry and put an end to legislative and ballot initiatives that impact the industry. They now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Another bill, to impose a 6.5% excise tax on guns and ammunition in Colorado, also cleared a key Senate committee after concerns about the chamber’s conduct boiled over to the public. The tax would raise an estimated $39 million a year and would go toward victim services and behavioral health programs.

The Democratic Women’s Caucus of Colorado publicly accused Sen. Kyle Mullica, a Thornton Democrat, of blocking the bill and threatening to kill it. He called the letter full of “falsehoods” and said the bill was merely going through standard amendment negotiations. He praised the bill’s proponents and sponsors before voting yes on the bill in committee.