May 13

Call a special session

Call a special session | GJSentinel.com

Call a special session

One of the bigger disappointments of the current legislative session, which ends today, is that Senate Republicans dodged taking any action on the contentious hospital provider fee.

The House passed two bills, 1420 and 1450, which would have converted the fee to an enterprise, thereby freeing up space under the revenue cap set by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Getting the fee out from under TABOR would have allowed $750 million to be directed toward transportation and education and helped backfill some of the $362 million in severance taxes that lawmakers have used to cover spending gaps since 2006.

Senate leaders delayed introducing the bills until Tuesday, thus assuring they wouldn’t get the required number of readings needed to pass before the sessions ends.

Several Republicans broke ranks to support the House measures, so it would have been instructive to hear arguments in the Senate. In an election year, voters deserve to understand the rationale behind fiscal policy positions and who’s taking them.

Early on, some Republicans argued that converting the fee eliminated refunds to taxpayers. But budget negotiations removed that scenario from the equation. In a parallel universe, funding for roads and schools without a tax increase sounds like something the GOP would get behind.

“I don’t quite understand a lot of my fellow Republicans saying, ‘Oh, we have to preserve TABOR,’” John Suthers told The Colorado Independent last week. “The easiest way to preserve TABOR, and not increase taxes, is to remove the provider fee from the calculation. But obviously there’s a group in the Senate that feels differently.”

In 2009, Suthers, who was then Colorado’s Republican attorney general, urged lawmakers to make the new fee an enterprise. The current attorney general, Republican Cynthia Coffman, says converting it now is perfectly legal.

 

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May 13

PLF files brief in Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights case

PLF files brief in Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights case

 

The Colorado Department of State requires companies to pay a business and licensing charge for filing various statutorily mandated corporate documents. The Department considers this charge to be a fee. But most of the money raised from the charge is not used to defray the cost of providing the business and licensing services, the classic purpose of a fee. The lion’s share of the business and licensing charges go to the Department’s Cash Fund, and less than 15% of the Fund is used to defray the cost of operating the Business and Licensing Division. Because most of the money raised from the business and licensing charge is used to provide the Department of State’s general services, it has all of the hallmarks of a tax, and should be labeled as such.

Colorado courts examine three factors to determine whether a charge is a tax or fee: (1) the language of the enabling statute; (2) the primary purpose for which the money is raised; and (3) whether the primary purpose of the charge is to defray the cost of services for those who must pay it. The District Court of Denver concluded that while the first two factors support characterizing the business and licensing charge as a fee, the third factor did not because the primary purpose was not to defray the cost of providing business and licensing services. Unfortunately, the court did not explain how it would consider the factors in this balancing test, instead concluding that TABOR did not even apply to the business and licensing charge.

PLF’s brief raises two points. First, we argue that Colorado courts should apply a presumption that TABOR applies to all charges. Colorado voters made it clear that they wanted to limit government growth when they enacted TABOR. Colorado Courts would give effect to the Colorado voters intent by applying a presumption that TABOR applies. Second, we suggest that Colorado courts follow the footsteps of other state courts in conducting the balancing test that determines whether a charge is a tax or fee, by giving stronger consideration to the third factor—whether the charge is meant to defray the cost of providing a service to those who must pay it—and de-emphasizing the first factor which considers the label given to the charge. Indeed, if Colorado courts give too much weight to the government’s characterization, governments will have a perverse incentive to mislabel charges to avoid TABOR’s requirements. Under this test, the business and licensing charge is clearly a tax. Thus, the charge would illegal because it was not submitted to the voters.

PLF files brief in Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights case

May 13

7 winners and losers: Breakdown of the 2016 Colorado legislative session

7 winners and losers: Breakdown of the 2016 Colorado legislative session

May 11, 2016 Updated: May 11, 2016 at 10:45 pm

photo - Colorado State Capitol Building
Colorado State Capitol Building 

The 2016 Colorado legislative session may go down in history as the year of little change.

The politically divided chambers in the General Assembly resulted in neither party having much success with their lengthy agendas.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing for political moderates or independents who don’t care about party agendas, but for everyone else, they’ve got something in the loss column this year.

That means 2017 won’t see major policy changes on things like clamping down on construction defects litigation or equal-pay legislation.

Here is a look at some of the winners and losers from the session, which concluded Wednesday:

WINNERS

The Joint Budget Committee

Any politician who can emerge from 120 days of politicking and still look like a high-functioning, level-headed individual. The three Democrats and three Republicans on the Joint Budget Committee received more than their share of accolades for crafting a 581-page budget that somehow managed to appease both sides. Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, led the committee to a $25.8 billion budget that averted major cuts and – perhaps more significantly – the gridlock all too common across the nation when politicians dig in their heals.

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May 10

Colorado roads debate still hanging with session ending

Colorado roads debate still hanging with session ending

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May 07

Colorado’s hospital provider charge: A tax masquerading as a fee

(Editor’s note: This synopsis is excerpted from an Independence Institute Issue Paper on the Hospital Provider Fee Cash Fund, which can be found here:  https://www.i2i.org/the-hospital-provider-fee-fund/)

What is the Hospital Provider Fee?

In 2009, the Colorado General Assembly passed the Colorado Health Care Affordability Act of 2009, HB 09-1293, which imposed an up to 5.5 percent charge on hospital bills. It created the Hospital Provider Fee Cash Fund and the Hospital Provider Fee Oversight and Advisory Board within the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF). Funds raised by the provider charge are deposited in the Cash Fund and do not revert to the General Fund. Payments made to hospitals by the Cash Fund are supplemental payments over and above Medicaid reimbursements made to hospitals for services rendered. The Act stipulates that “a hospital shall not include any amount of the provider fee as a separate line item in its billing statements.”

The provider fee raises revenue for the state

In FY 2014-15 provider charges collected $688 million. The revenue comes from payments of the charge and increases in federal Medicaid matching funds. Suppose a day in the hospital costs $1,000. If the federal match is 50 percent, Colorado Medicaid pays the hospital $1,000 and receives $500 from the federal government. Its net cost is $500. Continue reading

May 05

Court of Appeals sides with Landmark HOA

Court of Appeals sides with Landmark HOA | The Villager News Online

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Apr 30

Landmark Towers Taxpayers Entitled to Tax Relief After 5 Year Legal Battle

Landmark Towers Taxpayers Entitled to Tax Relief After 5 Year Legal Battle

After a five year legal battle, the Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that homeowners at the Landmark Towers high-rise condominiums will receive refunds of property taxes paid to the Marin Metropolitan District dating back to 2009. The homeowners at the Landmark have been represented by Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. since the beginning of this lawsuit.

Denver, Colorado (PRWEB) April 29, 2016

After a five year legal battle, the Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that homeowners at the Landmark Towers high-rise condominiums will receive refunds of property taxes paid to the Marin Metropolitan District dating back to 2009 (Court of Appeals Nos. 14CA2099 & 14CA2463). The homeowners at the Landmark have been represented by Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. since the beginning of this lawsuit. “This decision by the Court of Appeals represents a real victory for taxpayers,” said Brian K. Matise, lead counsel for the homeowners. “We are happy to have obtained this result for our clients.”

The Colorado Court of Appeals determined that the property taxes were levied without the Landmark homeowners approval, a violation of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (“TABOR”). Additionally, it also held that the TABOR election was held under false pretenses. These decisions upheld the determination of the trial court, rendered in 2014.

“This decision will return real money to these homeowners,” said David P. Hersh, co-counsel on this matter. Pursuant to TABOR’s refund provision, the District must refund all illegal taxes paid with ten percent annual simple interest. Based on the State of Colorado public filings, the Marin Metropolitan District illegally collected $3,723,503 in property taxes from 2009 through 2013. With interest, the total refund obligation is expected to exceed $5 million.

Created in 2007, the Marin Metropolitan District was developed to help finance a new subdivision to the south of the Landmark development. Including two condominium buildings and a retail center, The Landmark sits on 15 acres at East Berry Avenue and Interstate 25 in Greenwood Village, Colorado.

The Landmark homeowners have been represented by Brian K. Matise, David P. Hersh, Diane Vaksdal Smith, and Nelson Boyle of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. throughout the life of this action.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/04/prweb13380322.htm

Apr 29

House OKs hospital provider fee and road funding bills

A desire to fix roads and fund schools led at least two House Republicans on Thursday to join Democrats to give preliminary approval to a bill that frees up about $700 million in state revenue for those purposes.
The legislation would re-categorize revenue collected under the seven-year-old hospital provider fee, which now goes into the state’s general fund and is subject to spending caps imposed by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Colorado House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst debate the hospital-provider fee bill.

Most Republicans question the constitutionality of changing how the hospital provider fee revenue is accounted for, calling it a “magic trick.” The fee program collects money from the hospitals for each patient they treat and leverages the money to bring in the same amount of federal funds.
GOP members argue that the maneuver alsol would cost Coloradans the chance to get Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds for many years.
But House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst — the Boulder County Democrat who sponsored both the hospital provider fee bill originally said the legislation allocates money that doesn’t come in through tax collections and puts it toward transportation, higher education, K-12 schools and other priorities.

A coalition of more than 100 business and civic groups back the measure. Hullinghorst argued that money that will be put toward these needs will improve the state economy much more than sending small refunds back to residents.
“I believe this bill is the most important we will consider this session for one single reason — its adoption ultimately would touch the lives of every single Coloradan,” Hullinghorst told the House during a roughly 3-1/2-hour debate. Continue reading