2021 Colorado Legislature: Bigger Government, Smaller Us

By Christine Burtt, TABOR Foundation Board Member


There are several onerous pieces of legislation in Colorado this year that will negatively impact your standard of living, if not your way of life.

Here are three notable examples.


  • HB21-1083, the so-called “Don’t dare to challenge the government’s valuation on your home” bill, was designed to create a chilling effect on homeowners questioning the assessment that calculates their property tax.


The bill, which has been signed into law by Governor Polis, was initiated by the Colorado Assessors. It changes existing law that prevented a county assessor from raising taxes on a property if the homeowner challenged an assessment. The previous law gave homeowners an appeals process if they believed their property had been assessed at a value higher than was warranted.

, with the new law, if you challenge the valuation set by the county assessor, the assessor may keep the valuation as stated, or may even increase your property tax. It won’t go down.

The effect is that fewer people will appeal the assessors’ valuation for fear of having to pay even more.  The Fiscal Note from the Legislative Council Staff actually states: “The bill may increase local property tax revenue…It is also possible that this allowance will result in fewer appeals filed, …could free up staff resources for county assessors.”

County assessors feel overworked and are willing to make you pay more if you add to their work load. Score another one for the bureaucracy.


  • HB21-1208, the so-called “Slap Voters with an End-Run around Proposition 117” bill is also known as the Natural Disaster Mitigation Enterprise.  This bill, co-sponsored with bi-partisan support, would establish a new government-run business funded by a fee on insurance policies.


Still in the House, the bill has gone through several amendments.  One deleted an explicit mandate to keep monies collected for the Natural Disaster Mitigation Cash Fund under the limit of $100 million collected in its first five years of operation.  This protects the Fund from taxpayers’ oversight.  In 2020, voters approved Proposition 117 that set limits on both a timeframe and how much in fees a state enterprise can collect before requiring a vote on such fees.

This new enterprise would change the fees on insurance policies it expects to collect each year to remain under the $100 million threshold, thereby avoiding voter scrutiny.

It’s ironic.  The bill argues that there is no other disaster mitigation program in Colorado that does what this one would: “…award grants for projects that include slope stabilization, watershed restoration, fuels mitigation, drought mitigation and similar activities that directly reduce risks to communities, lives and property.”  Additionally, it may not award grants for renewable energy generation projects, resources and technologies.

Which begs the question: if it’s such a great idea and so needed, why not ask the voters to endorse it?


  • Not yet filed, but wait for it, the so-called “We’re raising your gas tax but calling it a fee so you can’t vote on it” bill.


In the works for months, this scheme would add an as-yet unidentified “fee” to the 22-cents per gallon of gasoline you pay to the state, plus the 18.4 cents per gallon you pay to feds.  (Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and other electeds are also contemplating a federal tax increase.)

The Colorado legislation for this highly-regressive $3.9 billion fee would apply to regular gas, diesel gas, electric vehicle registrations, rideshares, and online retail deliveries, among other fees.

Of course, we’ll feel the pinch, not just when we fill up at the station, but when we buy anything – like groceries, clothing, or meds, that’s transported or delivered via the roads.

The TABOR Foundation has joined Americans for Prosperity – Colorado and four other groups to launch the Colorado Taxpayers Coalition to defeat the legislature’s current gas tax/fee proposal – and your right to vote on any tax increase, even if it’s called a fee.

Stay tuned.


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