Banning lion hunts in Colorado one of bills right out of the gate
The second regular session of the 73rd Colorado General Assembly convened on Jan. 12. There are a number of introduced bills of interest to agriculture and rural Coloradans.
SB22-031 Prohibit Hunting Bobcat Lynx and Mountain Lion is sponsored by Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D- Boulder, Sen. Joann Ginal, D- Fort Collins, Rep. Judy Amabile, D- Boulder, and Rep. Monica Duran D-Wheatridge.
According to the published bill summary, current law allows, when authorized by the parks and wildlife commission, a person to hunt and take a bobcat or mountain lion. This bill generally prohibits shooting, wounding, killing or trapping a bobcat, Canada lynx or mountain lion. The bill allows for the shooting, wounding, killing or trapping or the attempted shooting, wounding, killing or trapping if it is immediately necessary to protect an individual from bodily harm; by a peace officer or licensed veterinarian acting in the course and scope of their duties; by a federal, state or local department of health to protect human health or safety; authorized by a scientific collecting license; authorized by a wildlife sanctuary license; authorized by a commercial wildlife park license, unless the license authorizes the licensee to shoot, wound, kill or engage in trapping bobcats, Canada lynx or mountain lions; by a zoological park accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or is authorized by a zoological park license; expressly authorized by federal law; by the division of parks and wildlife (division) for the protection of a threatened species or an endangered species; or by the division for the purpose of relocating the animal and is done using nonlethal methods and devices.
A person that shoots, wounds or kills a bobcat, Canada lynx or mountain lion to prevent bodily harm to an individual must notify the division within 24 hours after the incident and may not, without authorization from the division, remove from the site, retain or transfer all or a portion of the bobcat, Canada lynx or mountain lion.
The bill also establishes an exception for a livestock owner if the shooting, wounding, killing or trapping of a bobcat or mountain lion occurs on land owned or leased by the livestock owner and is immediately necessary to protect livestock and to protect further loss of livestock if certain conditions are met. A person that shoots, wounds, kills or traps a bobcat or mountain lion to protect livestock: must report the wounding, trapping or killing to the division within five days after the incident; may not, without authorization from the division, remove from the site, retain or transfer all or a portion of the bobcat or mountain lion; and may not hold the animal in captivity unless for purposes of rehabilitation.
A person that violates the bill is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 to $2,000 or up to one year in jail, an assessment of 20 hunting license suspension points, and civil restitution of $700 for a mountain lion or bobcat and $1,000 for a Canada lynx. Additionally, upon conviction, the commission may suspend the person’s hunting license for up to five years.
The penalty for doing any of the following without legal authority is a class 5 felony: selling or purchasing a mountain lion; offering for sale or purchase a mountain lion; or soliciting another person to illegally hunt or take a mountain lion for monetary gain.
Investment Water Speculation is sponsored by Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, Rep. Karen McCormick, D- Longmont.
According to the bill summary, the first section this bill prohibits a purchaser of agricultural water rights that are represented by shares in a mutual ditch company from engaging in investment water speculation. Investment water speculation is the purchase of agricultural water rights that are represented by shares in a mutual ditch company in the state with the intent, at the time of purchase, to profit from an increase in the water’s value in a subsequent transaction or by receiving payment from another person for nonuse of all or a portion of the water subject to the water right.
On or after Jan. 1, 2023, the state engineer or the state engineer’s designee (state engineer) may investigate complaints of investment water speculation. If a purchaser holds, or by virtue of a proposed sale or transfer, will hold at least a minimum percent of the shares in a mutual ditch company, about which minimum percent the mutual ditch company must determine and notify the state engineer on or before Dec. 31, 2022, there is a rebuttable presumption that the purchaser is engaged in investment water speculation. The state engineer may fine a purchaser up to $10,000 for a violation and require, for a period of up to two years after a fine has been imposed, that any sale or transfer of shares in a mutual ditch company to the purchaser be subject to approval by the state engineer.
If the state engineer believes that a complaint is frivolous or was filed for the purpose of harassing a seller or purchaser, the state engineer may refer the matter to the attorney general’s office for the attorney general or the attorney general’s designee (attorney general) to investigate and, if the attorney general determines that enforcement is warranted, bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction alleging the complaint is frivolous or was filed for the purpose of harassment. If the attorney general prevails in the civil action, the court may fine a complainant up to $1,000, prohibit the complainant from filing any complaints alleging investment water speculation for up to one year, and grant attorney fees and court costs. Section 3 authorizes the attorney general to bring a civil action against a complainant if the state engineer refers the matter to the attorney general. Section 2 requires the board of directors of a mutual ditch company to determine the minimum percent of agricultural water rights held by all of the shareholders in the mutual ditch company that a purchaser holds or, by virtue of the sale or transfer of shares in the mutual ditch company, will hold that creates a rebuttable presumption that the purchaser is engaging in investment water speculation.
Expand Water Resources Review Committee To Include Agriculture is sponsored by Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose.
This bill changes the name of the water resources review committee to the water resources and agriculture review committee and expands the scope of the committee to include agriculture issues. It has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources committee.
Farm Close-out Exemption Exclude Motor Vehicles is sponsored by Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Denver, and Sen. Chris Kolker, D- Centennial. It has been assigned to the House Finance committee.
According to the bill summary, a farm close-out sale, which is a farmer’s or rancher’s sale by auction or private treaty of all tangible personal property used in carrying on the farming or ranching operations, is exempt from the sales and use tax. The bill excludes motor vehicles that are subject to registration requirements from a farm close-out sale.
Fluid Milk Products Not Divisible Load is sponsored by Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, D-Larimer County, Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose.
Current law has weight limits for vehicles. One of the factors that determines a vehicle’s weight limit is whether a load is divisible, which means that the load can be divided up to lower its weight. The bill deems that a load of fluid milk products carried by a vehicle is not a divisible load.
This bill has been assigned to the Senate Transportation and Energy committee.
Groundwater Compact Compliance Fund
This bill creates the groundwater compact compliance and sustainability fund to help finance groundwater use reduction efforts in the Rio Grande River basin and the Republican River basin, such as efforts to buy and retire irrigation wells and irrigated acreage in the river basins. The Colorado Water Conservation Board administers the fund and can make expenditures from the fund based on recommendations from the board of directors of the Rio Grande water conservation district or the Republican River water conservation district. A conservation district’s recommendations must first be approved by the state engineer.
Sponsored by Sen. Cleave Simpson, R- Alamosa, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R- Sterling, Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, Rep. Marc Catlin, R- Montrose. This bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Modify Administration of Colorado State Fair
According to the summary, this bill allows the Colorado state fair authority to collaborate with a state agency to develop an industry display at the Colorado state fair and industrial exposition. The bill also clarifies that the authority may receive information related to an industry display from an industry representative; requires the board of commissioners of the authority to establish a process for approving industry displays; and clarifies that the hiring authority of the manager of the Colorado state fair authority is the commissioner of agriculture. Sponsors Rep. Dylan Roberts, D- Avon, and Sen. Rob Woodward, R-Loveland. This bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water committee.
Reduce State Income Tax Rate
For income tax years commencing on and after Jan. 1, 2022, the bill reduces both the individual and the corporate state income tax rates from 4.55% to 4.4%. The bill also exempts the rate reductions from the existing statutory requirements that tax expenditure legislation include a tax preference performance statement in a statutory legislative declaration and a repeal after a specified period of tax years. Prime sponsors are Rep. Kim Ransom, R- Douglas County, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R- Sterling. This bill has been assigned to the House State, Civic, Military, and Veterans Affairs
Statutory Initiative Petition Signature Requirements
The Colorado constitution currently requires any petition for a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to be signed by at least 2% of the registered electors who reside in each state senate district for the change to be placed on the ballot. If approved by the voters at the November 2022 general election, the concurrent resolution would extend this requirement to a citizen-initiated statutory change.
Sponsored by Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Sterling. This bill has been assigned to the House State, Civic, Military, and Veterans Affairs committee.
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The House Agriculture Committee today approved six bills dealing with markets and conservation on a bipartisan basis.