2023 Leg Session, Featured, Gold Dome, Rose Pugliese, Sherrie Peif, TABOR, Taxes

Democrats kill effort to ease cost of living; bill sought to repeal Colorado retail delivery fee

DENVER — Democrats in the House Transportation, Housing and Local Government committee voted to kill a bill that would have lowered the cost of living for millions of Colorado residents already facing one of the highest inflation rates in the country.

House Bill 23-1166 would have repealed a portion of a 2021 law that required “all deliveries by motor vehicle to locations in Colorado with at least one item of tangible property subject to state sales taxes” to be assessed a .27 cent “retail delivery fee.”

The committee voted 9-4 down party lines to “postpone indefinitely” the bill, which means it will not be voted on the House floor this session.

Bill sponsor Rep. Rose Pugliese, R-Colorado Springs, argued before the committee that the effects of the bill are hurting those impacted by inflation the most, such as the elderly, those with physical limitations and low-income families.

Those “who don’t have as much access to transportation to get their goods, they rely on deliveries,” said Pugliese, adding that the fiscal note of $88-95 million in reduced revenue may look large, but the actual cost is still unknown. “We don’t actually know how much it’s going to bring in. It hasn’t even been in effect for a year, and agencies that say they rely on this money have not even had it in their budget.”

Pugliese said the state does not have a revenue problem but a prioritization one, calling the fee a way to get around Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. She also took exception to comments by Committee Vice Chairman William Lindstedt, a Broomfield Democrat who said that the original bill was bi-partisan and inferring that she did not speak to all the stakeholders before she drafted the current bill.

“While that bill was technically bi-partisan, it was bi-partisan by one legislator who no longer shares our values,” she said. “So to say that was a bi-partisan bill and all these people agreed, I think there are definitely some different stakeholders who could be engaged.”

Pugliese was referring to Senator Kevin Priola from Adams County. Priola is a former Republican who changed his political affiliation to Democrat mid-term after he was drawn out of Senate District 25 and into Senate District 13 during the redistricting process, ending up in SD 13 by default as Sen. John Cooke, who represented the very conservative district for eight years, was term limited.

Pugliese admitted she didn’t go back to the original stakeholders because most were big government agencies who benefit from the tax.

“So, did I stakeholder it the best I could have? I should probably say no, except that the stakeholders that were not engaged in the original process were the people I talked to at the door who were saying, ‘You’re killing me. Stop taxing me and fee-ing me to death.’ So, I guess it depends on who the stakeholders truly are in this process.”

Although Pugliese’s bill was killed in committee, another bill addressing the same matter, Senate Bill 23-143, which is co-sponsored by Boulder Democrat Steve Fenberg and Highlands Ranch Republican Kevin Van Winkle, passed unanimously out of the Senate Finance Committee.

SB 143 would allow retailers to pay the .27 retail delivery fee on behalf of the customer. Currently the .27 cents must be added to the consumer’s bill.

It also exempts retailers with less than $500,000 in annual sales from collecting or submitting the fee. The total fiscal impact of SB 143 is estimated around $1.5 million per year in reduced revenue to the state.

That bill now heads for appropriations.


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