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Colorado Joint Budget Committee Completes Work

We have 27 days left in the Legislative Session. The urgency to get things across the finish line is setting in! 

The Joint Budget Committee has finalized their budget and it will be presented to the House and Senate today. As far as ag related budget items, there has been $75,000 allotted for the Colorado Ag Leadership Program, $75,000 for the Beef Sticks for Backpacks program, $1,000,000 towards wolf reintroduction rancher support, and $200,000 towards the Department of Agriculture to continue their Rural Mental Health initiative. RMFU has worked most directly on this last item as our AgWell program has been directly involved in this collaborative. 

Other legislative updates for the week

HB22-1301, Colorado Environment Agricultural Facility as Agricultural Property, passed out of its first committee 11-2 on Wednesday. This bill will allow for hydroponic greenhouses, used for food production, to receive agricultural tax status. RMFU policy supports agricultural taxes to be based on production as opposed to being tied to agricultural taxes being based on land. We have taken an amend position and hope to see this bill expanded to greenhouses that have additional production methods, such as soil-based systems, in addition to solely hydroponics.   

HB22-1355, Producer Responsibility Program for Recyling, this bill, as introduced, would charge producers of packaging a fee to support regional recycling programs. It has been a challenging bill because our policy heartily supports incentivized recycling programs but is quiet when it comes to mandated fees for recycling. We have negotiated an amendment that would exempt agricultural producers from being subject to these fees and have now taken a neutral position on the bill.  

SB22-029, Investment Water Speculation, one of the most perplexing bills of the session, this seeks to rein in out-of-state speculative interests that are increasing water prices in the state. Everyone agrees that these outside forces are making it harder for accessing agricultural water and for families to pass these assets down to the next generation. However, it’s very difficult to create language in statute that can curb these trends without injuring private property rights and changing our Historic Doctrine of Prior Appropriation. This bill was originally scheduled to be in committee today but has now been delayed. We expect it to be amended quite a bit if it is to move forward in the Legislature this year. 

To see all the bills we are following follow this link to our Bill Tracker: 

https://statebillinfo.com/SBI/index.cfm?fuseaction=Public.Dossier&id=30288&pk=925&style=pinstripe 

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