Colorado General Assembly: A list of senate bills that impact ag and rural areas | TheFencePost.com

Colorado General Assembly: A list of senate bills that impact ag and rural areas

Bill: SB18-002 "Financing rural broadband development" Prime sponsors: Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R), Sen. Don Coram (R), Rep. Crisanta Duran (D), Rep. KC Becker (D) Sponsors: Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R), Sen. John Cooke (R), Sen. Kevin Grantham (R), Sen. Chris Holbert (R) Senate committee: Business, Labor and Technology

The gist: The aim is to equip rural and other underserved areas with better broadband capabilities. To do this, a portion of the funds would come from the High Cost Support Mechanism, which is a TABOR-exempt fund. The money in that fund comes from landline and cell phones and would be used to help subsidize high-speed internet costs.

This isn't a new concept, and telecommunication companies, including CentryLink, have blocked past efforts.

Last action: A new fiscal note was approved, which showed higher funds available for broadband grants through 2023. The funds are estimated to hit just over $23 million, with a note that the collections don't exceed $25 million after 2023.

Next hearing: Jan. 31 in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee.

Bill: SB18-005 "Rural economic advancement of Colorado towns"

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Prime sponsors: Sen. Kerry Donovan (D), Rep. Dylan Roberts (D)

Sponsors: Sen. Irene Aguilar (D), Sen. Lois Court (D), Stephen Fenberg (D), Lucia Guzman (D), Sen. Daniel Kagan (D), Sen, John Kefalas (D), Sen. Andy Kerr (D), Sen. Michael Merrifield (D), Sen. Dominick Moreno (D), Sen. Nancy Todd (D), Sen. Angela Williams (D), Sen. Rachel Zenzinger (D)

Senate committee: State, Veterans and Military Affairs

The gist: The aim here is to keep rural communities thriving. The bill would put power in the hands of the executive director of local affairs to coordinate resources to help maintain and bring jobs to struggling areas. It also would create a fund to promote economic improvement in rural areas for qualifying areas through 2021.

Next hearing: Feb. 7 in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee.

Bill: SB18-019 "Expand duration for Colorado water resources and power development authority revolving loans"

Prime sponsors: Sen. Don Coram (R), Sen. Kerry Donovan (D), Rep. Jeni James Arndt (D), Rep. Chris Hansen (D)

Sponsors: Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R), Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R) and Rep. Daneya Esgar (D)

Senate committee: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy

House Committee: Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources

The gist: This is simply an extension of the timeline loans must be paid back to the Colorado water resources and power development authority. Currently, loans must be paid back 20 years after the projected project completion date. The bill would extend the time up to 30 years.

Status: Passed the Senate on Jan. 24

Next hearing: Feb. 12 in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources committee

Bill: SB18-033 "Animal feeding operation permits continuation"

Prime sponsors: Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R), Rep. Jon Becker (R), Rep. Jeni James Arndt (D)

Senate committee: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy; Finance; Appropriations

The gist: This allows the Department of Public Health and Environment's animal feeding operation permit program to continue to July 1, 2025, rather than July 1 of this year.

Status: Bill was moved to the Senate Appropriations Committee with no amendments.

Next hearing: Not noted as of Jan. 31

Bill: SB18-038 "Reclaiming water use on industrial hemp"

Prime sponsors: Sen. Don Coram (R), Sen. Kerry Donovan (D), Rep. Yeulin Willett (R) and Rep. Daneya Esgar (D)

Sponsors: Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R), Sen. Matt Jones (D), Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R), Rep. Jeni James Arndt (D), Rep. Chris Hansen (D) and Rep. Lori Saine (R)

Senate committee: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy; Appropriations

The gist: It's no secret how water resources in Colorado are pulled in, sometimes, too many directions. This is the only Senate bill of its kind, but there also are a few bills in the Colorado House that aim to do the same. Basically, the aim is to use "reclaimed domestic water" for industrial hemp crops. This water would be nondrinking water that's treated post-waste.

Status: Bill was moved to the Appropriations Committee

Next hearing: Not noted as of Jan. 31.

Bill: SB18-104 "Federal funds for rural broadband deployment"

Prime sponsors: Sen. Kerry Donovan (D) and Rep. Yeulin Willett (R)

Sponsors: Sen. Lois Court (D), Stephen Fenberg (D), Sen. Matt Jones (D), Sen. Daniel Kagan (D), Sen. Andy Kerr (D), Sen. Michael Merrifeld (D), Sen. Nancy Todd (D), Sen. Rachel Zenzinger (D), Rep. Jon Becker (R) and Rep. Dylan Roberts (D)

Senate committee: Business, Labor and Technology

The gist: This is one of those bills that require another entity to take action and really shows some of red tape agencies go through. If the bill passes, the Broadband Deployment Board must apply by the end of the year to receive an exception from the Federal Communications Commission as a way to apply for funds to help with broadband deployment.

Status: The bill was assigned to the Business, Labor and Technology Committee on Jan. 22

Next hearing: Feb. 5

— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at (970) 392-4410, sfox@thefencepost.com or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.