The 2014 Legislative Session was characterized by substantive conversations on a variety of topics important to Colorado citizens. Compared to 2013, this session was less divisive though there were still several long floor debates.
Despite press coverage to the contrary, many bills pass each year with bipartisan support. In 2014, there were several areas of consensus among legislators including: helping communities impacted by the Fall 2013 floods, updating Colorado’s telecommunications laws and creation of a statewide Medina alert which establishes a statewide hit and run system similar to the Amber alert.
Of course, there was also controversy under the Golden Dome. One of the biggest fights of the year was on SB125. The bill, which passed, created regulations to allow Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in Colorado. Additionally, there were dueling efforts to bolster mandatory prison sentences for sexual predators of children. In the education world, there was disagreement about the appropriate balance between additional money for schools and additional requirements designed to improve educational attainment.
In the wake of Colorado voter approval for the sale of marijuana, there were many bills considered. In addition to considerations of how much tax revenue would actually be produced and how to spend whatever comes in, there was legislation around labeling edibles, conducting research on medical benefits and banking for marijuana businesses.
Finally, the state budget generated more controversy this year than it did in 2013. There was significant disagreement around how much capital construction the state should fund and how much to invest in planes to be used for firefighting purposes. The final version allocates $23 billion for the next fiscal year and increases funding for higher education by $100 million, puts $15 million in new money into economic development programs and increases the state’s reserve from 5 percent to 6.5 percent.
Creative District Loan Fund
HB14-1093 by Rep. Duran and Sen. Newell was the major piece of arts-related legislation considered during the 2014 legislative session. The bill will create a Creative District Community Loan Fund which can receive funds both from the General Assembly or from community development finance institutions. Any community development finance institution interested in partnering with Colorado’s Creative Industries Division must enter into a memorandum of understanding regarding contributions to the fund.
Loans may be used for developing, constructing, or redeveloping commercial real estate, mixed use projects, community facilities or infrastructure projects within a state certified creative district. The maximum amount that the Division ma loan from the fund is $250,000.
The original intention behind the bill was to provide $1,000,000 from the General Fund to seed the loan fund. Unfortunately, the amount was ultimately reduced to $100,000 as pressures mounted to balance the budget towards the end of the legislative session.
The current certified Creative Districts in Colorado include: Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe, Ridgway Creative District, Corazon de Trinidad, Salida Creative District, North Fork Valley Creative District, Telluride Creative District and the Pueblo Creative Corridor. More will be approved soon.
Protecting Colorado’s Investment in the Arts
In terms of state funding, one of Colorado’s main investment in the arts and creative sectors comes from funding for the Creative Industries Division (CID) within the Office of Economic Development.
Last year, with the help of Speaker Mark Ferrandino, Senator Pat Steadman and Rep. Cheri Gerou we were able to secure a significant, 85 percent, increase from the prior year’s budget. In dollar terms the increase was a little over $900,000. In the 2014 Legislative Session, we were able to protect this increase in its entirety.
The total budget for CID is $2 million in state funds and $764,397 in federal funds.
In the Colorado House, there are 17 members who are either term-limited or who have decided not to run for re-election. The Democrats currently enjoy a 37-28 margin of control in the House, which means Republicans have to pick up five seats in order to regain control. Some of the key races to watch include:
- Southwest Colorado – Mike McLachlan (D, incumbent) vs. J. Paul Brown (R, candidate)
- Aurora – John Buckner (D, incumbent) vs. Julie Marie Shepherd (R, candidate)
- Jefferson County – Brittany Pettersen (D, incumbent) vs. Stacia Kuhn (R, candidate)
- Greeley – Dave Young (D, incumbent) vs. Isaia Aricayos (R, candidate)
- Cherry Hills Village — Daniel Kagan (D, incumbent) vs. Rita Russell (R, candidate) or Candice Benge (R, Candidate)
- Broomfield – Dianne Primavera (D, incumbent) vs. Marijo Tinlin (R, candidate)
- Colorado Springs – Pete Lee (D, incumbent) vs. Michael Schlierf (R, candidate)In the Colorado Senate, the current margin of control is 18-17 in the Democrats favor. This means that Republicans only have to pick up one seat to gain control. Some key races to watch include:
- Jefferson County – Rachel Zenzinger (D, incumbent) vs. Lang Sias (R, candidate) or Laura Woods (R, candidate)
- Jefferson County – Andy Kerr (D, incumbent) vs. Mario Nicolais (R, candidate) or Romualdo Sanchez (R, candidate)
- Jefferson County – Jeanne Nicholson (D, incumbent) vs. Tim Neville (R, candidate) or Richard Wenzel (R, candidate)
- Colorado Springs – Bernie Herpin (R, incumbent) vs. Michael Merrifield (D, candidate)
- Central Mountain Counties – Open Seat (Gail Schwartz term-limited) Kerry Donovan (D) vs. Donald Suppes (R)
- Adams County – Open Seat (Lois Tochtrop term-limited ) Beth Martinez Humenik (R, candidate) vs. Judy Solano (D, candidate)
- Jefferson County – Cheri Jahn (D, incumbent) vs. Arthur Carlson (R, candidate) or Larry Queen (R, candidate)
Brandeberry McKenna Public Affairs (BBMK) is pleased to provide this report on legislation of interest to Arts for Colorado.