Tax expenditures and contraceptives on the agenda for Rep. Becker
January 8, 2015
Agricultural water efficiency, tax expenditures and funding for contraceptives are just a few of the issues District 13 state Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, is looking at as she starts the 2015 legislative session.
The 2015 Colorado State Legislative Session began Wednesday, Jan. 7. Rep. Becker has not yet officially introduced any bills because the session just started, but said she will be introducing four bills over the next few weeks. None of the bills have official titles yet but were referred to by Rep. Becker as: the Agriculture Water Efficiency Savings Bill, the Creation of a Tax Expenditure Review Committee Bill, the Public Lands Participation and Decision Making Process Bill, and the Continuation of Funding for Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives Bill.
According to Rep. Becker, whose district includes Grand County, her ag water efficiency bill is intended to encourage investment in mechanisms that will reduce the amount of water taken out of streams and rivers for ag use. She introduced the bill during the last legislative session and it passed both the House and Senate but was eventually vetoed by Gov. Hickenlooper.
She also has her eyes on tax expenditures. Tax expenditures are government revenue losses that occur when certain taxes are either refunded or waived entirely based on specific criteria, e.g. the Federal Mortgage Interest Deduction. Becker's bill looks to establish a tax expenditure review committee. It would require a state auditor to analyze state tax expenditures and report their findings to the committee examining the effectiveness and necessity of the various expenditures.
"This is a transparency bill and a fiscal responsibility bill," she said. "We need to be checking in on these periodically to make sure they are a good use of taxpayer dollars."
The Democratic representative is also looking at a bill that could stir up a bit of controversy in some parts of the state as she looks to find funding for a contraceptive initiative.
The program, which provides long-term contraceptives to low-income women who cannot typically afford the upfront price, was created after a $5 million donation to the state from a private donor. The program was funded for four years and according to Becker resulted in an, "unprecedented reduction in teen pregnancy rates." Donor funding for the program has run out and Becker hopes her bill will continue funding for the program through the state budget.
She also is working on a bipartisan bill with a House Republican to "find ways that we can empower rural counties and give them technical and financial assistance to participate in federal land planning decisions."
Becker went on to explain that federal land makes up more than 50 percent of the land in many Colorado Counties.
"Most counties do not have the existing staff and resources available to participate in federal land planning programs."
Rep. Becker, who represents the town of Black Hawk, is also working on a bill that would clarify the legality of what are known as "internet sweepstakes cafes", which, according to Rep. Becker, are quasi-gambling institutions and are not legal.
Becker is on the Ag Committee, Natural Resources Committee, the Finance Committee and the Capital Development Committee for the coming year.