2022 Leg Session, Featured, Gold Dome, Sherrie Peif, Taxes, Transparency

Supermajority for fees bill appears headed for swift death by majority Democrats

DENVER — A Republican bill that would require supermajority approval for new or increased state fees appears headed to a swift death at the hands of majority Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives.

House Bill 22-1059, sponsored by Rep. Matt Soper, R-Mesa, has been assigned to what is referred to as a “kill committee.” Officially it’s the State, Civic, Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee. The committee is designated as where Democrat leadership assigns bills it does not want to see advance to a full debate on the House floor.

The bill, titled “Two-thirds voting requirements for bills with fees,” would require “any bill that imposes a new fee, authorizes the imposition of a new fee, increases an existing fee, or authorizes the increase of an existing fee be approved by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly to become law.”

It would only apply to the final vote for passage and defines fee as a “charge that is levied to defray the cost of the particular government service provided to those charged and not levied for the purpose of raising any revenue for a general public purpose.”

A similar bill that is being sponsored by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling in the Senate would ask voters to decide if they believe new fees should require two-thirds a vote of legislators.

“Democrats continue to find ways around TABOR,” Sonnenberg said about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which among other things, requires voter approval for new or increased taxes. “If you’re going to raise those fees it should require two-thirds majority to do so.”

Sonnenberg’s bill has yet to be introduced, but he said something needs to be done to stop the onslaught of new fees by Democrats, who continue to ignore voters wishes.

Sonnenberg pointed to Proposition 117, approved by voters in 2020, telling legislators that they needed to ask before approving any new fees or enterprise funds expected to collect more than $100 million in the first five years of creation.

Yet, after 117 passed by nearly 53 percent of the vote, during the 2021 legislative session, Democrats came back and created multiple smaller enterprise funds to get around the will of the voters, Sonnenberg said, including a massive transportation bill that created more than a half-dozen new fees that collectively will raise nearly $4 billion in new revenue.

“They continue to try and find ways around what the people of Colorado want,” Sonnenberg said. “Voters said on 117 that they wanted to vote when you set up an enterprise fund, but what the (majority) legislature decided to do was absolutely thumb their nose at the voters.”

Sonnenberg also pointed to legislation that circumvented another tax-reduction proposition that was on the 2021 ballot, which would have lowered property taxes.

“Why are they scared,” Sonnenberg said. “They circumvented that initiative before it even got to be voted on.”

This is not the first bill Democrats have intentionally sent to kill committees just one month into session.

Complete Colorado previously reported on Democrats sending a hospital transparency bill (also sponsored by Sonnenberg) to the kill committee in the Senate. Several other transparency bills are also expected to never get a floor debate in a year when some predict Colorado voters are ready to turn control of at least one chamber of the legislature back over to Republicans after two years of rising crime, economic slowdown, new government mandates and general unrest over far-left policies being implemented.

“The arrogance is just astounding” Sonnenberg said. “It’s amazing how much they want to ignore what the people have voted on. Surely they don’t think the people of Colorado are stupid?”

Sonnenberg said he will be following the bills closely this session, as he believes they will kill nearly every bill brought by a Republican if there are no Democrats on the bill as co-sponsors.

“Surely they don’t think they have the exclusive ability to come up with good ideas,” he said.


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