canada africa partner reservation The Colorado Legislature will provide updates on property taxes, guns and housing on Monday

The Colorado Legislature will provide updates on property taxes, guns and housing on Monday

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Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat from Denver, left, talks with Sen. Cleave Simpson, a Republican from Alamosa, in the Colorado Senate Chamber at the State Capitol building in Denver on Friday, May 3, 2024. The Colorado Legislature began weekend work Friday as the end of the 2024 session. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

Lawmakers in the Colorado House and Senate are facing a time crunch as the end of the legislative session approaches Wednesday, working to pass bills on property tax relief, gun regulation, housing, land use policy, transportation and other priorities.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

Updated at 11:18 am: Senate President Steve Fenberg said Monday morning during a news conference at the state Capitol that if the new property tax credit proposal moves through the Legislature, he doubts a special session will be needed this year.

That threat hung heavy over lawmakers over the past week, especially as talks over a property tax deal seemed to drag on with no resolution in sight — including on Sunday. But by Monday morning, the last day for lawmakers to introduce new bills with enough time to pass them at the end of the regular session on Wednesday, an agreement was reached.

An advocacy group for provincial governments has thrown its support behind the deal, which aims to provide relief from rising property taxes and unwind some — but not all — of the reform measures that outside groups have been working on.

Colorado Counties Inc. voted Monday to support the proposal, Executive Director Kelly Flenniken said. “This is a meaningful property tax reduction that is far less painful than the proposed ballot initiatives,” she said.

Flenniken acknowledged that it is always sad when local governments do not realize as much income as they expected. But she praised the emerging bill for keeping intact counties that would lose money under the proposal. The bipartisan work on the bill was also encouraging to its members, she said.

Updated at 10:45 am: Rep. Chris deGruy Kennedy said Monday there has been a breakthrough on property tax policy, and he hopes it will disarm a looming battle at the ballot box.

The new proposal, introduced early Monday as Senate Bill 233, was negotiated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and the business group Colorado Concern. It would lower commercial property tax rates and allow residential property owners to exempt 10% of the first $700,000 of actual value. It would give most homeowners an effective assessment rate of 6.5% of value, up from more than 7%, according to an analysis by the Bell Policy Center, a progressive think tank focused on the issue.

Gov. Jared Polis and a bipartisan group of lawmakers were scheduled to speak at a news conference at the State Capitol at 11 a.m. about an announcement aimed at “making Colorado more affordable.”

According to deGruy Kennedy, the proposal would keep schools fully funded by dipping into the state’s education fund, although local governments would otherwise lose revenue from expected increases under the current property tax system. The state would send an estimated $20 million to local governments, which would see actual savings under the proposal.

The reductions would mean an estimated $1.2 billion reduction in property taxes collected statewide, according to the Bell Policy Center analysis.

“We have been working with local governments to set reasonable expectations about the supplement and what it will take to prevent these terrible ballot measures from moving forward,” said deGruy Kennedy, a Lakewood Democrat. “It’s about difficult choices and how we struggle with them.”

The deal convinced Colorado Concern to roll back two ballot measures it planned to support in November that would have created a hard cap on the growth of property tax collections — and, lawmakers warned, a $2 billion hole in the general state fund would have blown.

However, conservative think tank Advance Colorado has not agreed to roll back its ballot initiatives, deGruy Kennedy said. He is hopeful that this agreement will “take the wind out of (Advance Colorado)’s sails” in pursuing the measures. He is also hopeful it will be a long-term solution to property tax policy, which has been a subject of annual contention after voters repealed the Gallagher Amendment in 2020.

“We are taking the state out of the property tax business after this year,” deGruy Kennedy said.

Advance Colorado did not immediately return a request for comment.

Monday is the last day the bill can be introduced and there is time for it to pass the General Assembly before it must adjourn on Wednesday. DeGruy Kennedy, citing bipartisan sponsorship, is hopeful it will move smoothly through the chambers.

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