Capitol Beat: Two weeks and counting

By Larry Morandi

Here’s the status of the six bills described in previous “Capitol Beat” blog posts (including New Water Bills With one Month to GoWater Bills Advance as Legislature Reaches Half-Way Point, and Legislature Considers Alternatives to Buy and Dry) to go with two weeks remaining in the 2018 Colorado General Assembly session (scheduled adjournment is May 9). Four are, or are likely, to become law. One has been defeated and one faces a stern test.

HB18-1199—Aquifer Storage and Recovery

Passed House and Senate; signed by governor.

HB18-1008—Aquatic Nuisance Species: Mussel-Free Colorado Act

Passed House and Senate; sent to governor.

HB18-1093—Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater Use on Edible Crops

Passed House and Senate; sent to governor.

SB18-218—Funding Colorado Water Conservation Board Projects

Passed Senate; reported favorably by House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee to House Appropriations Committee.

Note: In addition to appropriating $7 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) for grants to help implement Colorado’s Water Plan, the bill would transfer $4 million from the Severance Tax Perpetual Base Fund to the CWCB Construction Fund for CWCB’s use in implementing the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project. (The project—which would help meet the water plan’s measurable objective of increasing water storage by 400,000 acre-feet in 2050—would add 20,600 acre-feet of water to the 27,000 acre-feet currently in Chatfield Reservoir to be used for municipal, agricultural and environmental purposes.) It would also authorize CWCB to loan up to $11.9 million in severance tax revenue to three water districts participating in the project to help cover increased costs.

HB18-1151—Deficit Irrigation and Alternative Transfer Mechanisms

Passed House; postponed indefinitely in Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee.

Note: The bill’s Senate sponsor, Senator Larry Crowder, requested it be withdrawn from consideration because of growing concerns conveyed to him by water conservation and conservancy groups. The bill was amended in the House to limit its application to water Divisions 2 and 3—the Arkansas and Rio Grande River Basins—and when subsequent questions were raised in Division 3, he determined there was not sufficient support for the bill to move forward at this time.

HB18-1301—Water Quality Impacts of Mineral Mining

Passed House; assigned to Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee.  

Note: The bill passed the Democratically-controlled House on a party-line vote. It’s now in the Republican-controlled Senate.

IMG_0094Larry Morandi writes on environment and natural resources issues. His articles on drought, the Colorado River and public access to water have appeared in State Legislatures magazine. He recently retired from the National Conference of State Legislatures, a think tank based in Denver, where he was Director of State Policy Research. He previously worked for the Colorado Legislative Council as staff to water committees. Larry has lived in Colorado for the past 40 years, splitting his time between Denver and Summit County.

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