Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – Feb. 2014
~ By Doris Beaver ~
The Sixty-Ninth Colorado General Assembly opened this year with a new Senate President. Senator Morgan Carroll (D-Arapahoe) replaced former President John Morse (D-El Paso). Morse and Senator Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) were recalled for their support and efforts to pass gun control legislation. Bills have already been introduced this session to repeal that gun control legislation.
Point-of-Information: The names and sponsors of legislation are provided at the end of each discussion should the reader want to contact the individual sponsoring legislator to offer opinion or input. The area code for all numbers at the Capitol is (303).
Senate Bill 14-014: Under current law, a state program provides “individuals, married couples at least 65 years old (or a surviving spouse age 58 or over), and disabled claimants grants for certain property tax or rent expenses and an additional rebate for heat expenses.” The Property Tax, Rent and Heat Rebate Program (PTC) is administered by the Colorado Department of Revenue, and was instituted in 1972 and 1980, respectively. If passed as introduced, SB 014 makes following changes to the program:
- increases the maximum property tax and rent rebate for income eligible claimants – the new income threshold for individuals would be $6,639.00 for individuals and $10,731.00 for married couples with annual adjustments for inflation for each tax year starting in 2015;
- establishes a “flat rate” minimum grant for individual PTC claimants with incomes between $11,369.00 and $14,937.00, and married PTC claimants with incomes between $15,461.00 and $20,163.00; and
- a total PTC grant of $300.00 consisting of $227.00 property tax and rent rebate, plus $73.00 heat rebate is to be available for claimants in the flat rate income range.
According to the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DOR), over half of all PTC program participants were eligible due to disability as opposed to age (54 percent in 2010; 59 percent in 2011). The program has seen a decline of 50 percent in the last 10 years which the DOR attributes to decline in inflation and increased income from other government programs that disqualifies prior PTC rebate recipients.
A 2013 Legislative Audit found “only 37 percent of eligible households participated in the PTC rebates,” possibly due to a lack of awareness of the program.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 14-014: Senator John Kefalas (D-Larimer) 866-4841; and Representative Brittany Petttersen (D-Jefferson) 866-2929.
Senate Bill 14-044: Colorado vehicle owners who are 65 years of age and older and who have lived in Colorado for 5 years will pay a flat rate registration fee of $50.00 instead of their regular motor vehicle fees and taxes if SB 044 is passed as introduced (the flat registration fee applies to passenger vehicles, motor homes and motorcycles).
The impact on state revenue is not chump change. The expected decrease in taxes and fees paid on motor vehicles is $15,980,279.00 in Fiscal Year 2014-15, and $31,960,557.00 per year thereafter beginning in Fiscal Year 2015-16 (based on the assumption that 314,294 persons will be eligible to pay the specific ownership tax and registration fee proposed in the bill). Look for SB 044 to meet stiff opposition because of the reinstatement of the Senior Property Tax Exemption in 2012.
Effective date of the bill is August 6, 2024, “if the General Assembly adjourns on May 7, 2014 as scheduled and no referendum petition is filed, and applies to vehicles registered on or after January 1, 2015.”
Sponsors of Senate Bill 044: Senator Owen Hill (R-El Paso) 866-2737. No sponsor as yet in the House of Representatives.
Doris is a freelance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.