BREAKING: GOP Kills Pot Tax Funding Fix, Special Session Fails

UPDATE: Colorado House Democrats aren’t happy with this outcome:

“We presented a constitutionally sound measure to fix a mistake that will impact Coloradans across the state,” said Majority Leader KC Becker, House sponsor of HB17B-1001. “Unfortunately, after we assembled for the special session, the other party chose to waste this opportunity to get this right. It’s very disappointing that they chose partisan politics over Coloradans who have repeatedly asked for these services.”

HB17B-1001 would have corrected what all parties agree was a drafting error in SB17-267, a bipartisan bill passed during the 2017 regular session that averted more than half a billion dollars in cuts to hospitals across the state. Among the earlier bill’s many provisions was a change to the collection of revenues on retail marijuana. The drafting mistake unintentionally prevented some special districts – the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District in the Denver metro area, as well as rural transportation districts across the state, a housing district in Summit County and a hospital district in Montezuma County – from collecting revenues on retail marijuana sales.

“We’re talking impacts to real Coloradans,” Speaker Duran said. “The Summit County worker who’ll have a harder time finding an affordable apartment. The Lakewood retiree who needs the bus to get to the grocery store and the doctor. The voters have asked for these services and it’s unfortunate that this unintended omission will continue to have impacts for Coloradans.”

Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman:

“The Colorado General Assembly was not at its best over these past two days, and that is profoundly disappointing. This error is costing counties like Pitkin, Eagle, and San Miguel thousands in transportation dollars, and could result in services like rides for the disabled being cut, or perhaps bus fares being increased,” said Senator Guzman.


That’s the word from the Colorado Capitol moments ago: the special session of the Colorado General Assembly called by Gov. John Hickenlooper to fix a drafting error in legislation that has cut off special tax districts around the state from marijuana tax revenues will end in failure after the GOP-controlled Senate Transportation Committee killed the House’s bill:

This outcome wasn’t a surprise, of course, having been signaled clearly last week by GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham when he called for the governor to rescind his order for the special session. There will be much more to say about the failure of Senate Republicans to cooperate with fixing what everyone agrees was an unintentional mistake that is costing special tax districts from Denver RTD to the Montezuma Hospital District millions in lost revenues. And when the legislature reconvenes in January, GOP good faith is by no means assured–apparently now being divided into camps that agree the legislature can address the problem, versus those who claim that any such error no matter how silly in tax policy legislation is constitutionally required to go to the voters. If the latter camp prevails, the special districts are looking at much greater losses in the coming year, and no guarantees even then.

Which amounts to a completely ridiculous outcome. Anyone who thinks this makes the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) or the law’s dogmatic defenders look good has got rocks in their heads.

For the “business community” and others who have supported Republicans and paid lip service to the benefits of split control of the legislature–but also supported fiscal policies like the hospital provider fee, the FASTER vehicle registration fees, and fixing the error in SB17-267–this outcome is a slap in the face. Or at least it should be, if the constructive and moderate image these interests want to project has any meaning at all. Once again, we have Republican leadership over the narrow Senate majority killing what basically everyone else in the state wanted to see happen. If Republican Senate leadership had wanted this bill to make it to the floor, it would have, and it would have passed with bipartisan support just like it passed the House.

Could Democrats have managed the politics of this special session better? Of course–but in the context of obstruction and bad faith from one-third of the elected government of the state, you can’t blame Hickenlooper or Democrats for what happened. This was not even one side of the aisle, but one faction of that one side, who was more interested in pleasing ideologues than doing the right thing. It will be an election issue in 2018.

Stand by for updates.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. doremi says:

    What a bunch of sniveling blowhards.

    If it would be okay to do it in January, then it is okay to enact it now!

    Talk about Arrogant Petulance!

  2. unnamed says:

    So, Will they pass the fix in January, or was their reasoning for not passing this now just an excuse?  

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    On the bright side, our proud knuckle heel draggers will still get their legislative per diems despite their aversion to doing any actual constituent work!

  4. ZappateroZappatero says:

    Republicans make sure whenever they can that government cannot function properly. Then they can say "government doesn't work. Privatize it!" 

    At the same time, they manipulate their followers into thinking a well-functioning, principled democracy is their enemy, when it is elected Republicans who are the true enemies of a well-functioning democracy. Republicans use their hypocritical complaints to cow Democrats, throw sand in the eyes of the press, and keep their uninformed base uninformed.

    The tactics, prevalent in DC for decades, have now migrated to the state house. That R's face a relentless electoral shift forces them to be relentless in their anti-democratic tactics to counter that shift and to pull B.S. stunts like this. They refuse to perform the most simple of government functions like fixing a typo in a bill, basing policies on observable facts, and having governmental departments perform their legally ascribed duties.

    Then pretend they are upholding our democracy as they make a 1000 cuts to it.

  5. ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

    Tax increases should go to voters first.  The special session shouldn't have been called in first place.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      Get over yourself , Elliot. That you care not one whit for the elderly bus rider in Lakewood or the struggling mother in Breckenridge who can't find affordable housing is obvious and has long been understood here. You have pretty clearly demonstrated over the years that you have an open mind when it comes to things that affect you personally, but otherwise you seem pretty much a conventional Republican. 

      Or did Grantham ask you to chime in on this one?

  6. DawnPatrol says:

    These disgusting, puerile right-wing dickheads are a complete disgrace and an embarrassment to Colorado and to the human race.

    Let's take as many of their sorry clown asses down in the next election(s) as possible.

    • ZappateroZappatero says:

      most around here want to be BFF's with the Sociopaths on the other side. And their perfectly happy living in a purple state with all that entails.

    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

      The Republicans who folded their arms and dug in their heels, refusing to fix this goof may not have thought that far ahead, but they just served their Democratic challengers in’18 a campaign issue on a silver platter. Nice going folks. The Democratic Party thanks you.


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