By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4)– Republican leaders at the state Capitol are not on board with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s call for a special session.
The governor wants lawmakers to correct a drafting error in a new law that prevents special districts like RTD and the Science and Cultural Facilities District from collecting millions of dollars in pot tax revenue that they were entitled to before the law took effect.
But, Republicans say because the language authorizing the collection was omitted from the new law, it’s now considered a new tax, and under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, needs voter approval.
“I think there are serious constitutionality issues with what the governor is proposing as a fix and I don’t think it’s as easy as adding simple language in,” says Rep. Patrick Neville, a Republican representing Castle Rock, who is also the Republican leader in the House.
Neville says not only is the special session unconstitutional, it’s not necessary. The money, he says, is a relatively small percentage of the special districts’ budgets, “We’re talking one half of one percent.”
Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Republican representing Canon City, has asked the governor to rescind his executive order calling for the special session. He says lawmakers have known about the issue for months and were planning on dealing with it during their regular session in January.
“Seemingly overnight it reached critical mass, hair on fire and this had to be done now, it had to be done in October,” said Grantham.
Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, a Democrat representing Denver calls Republican objections “gamesmanship.” She says lawmakers are simply removing an exemption on a tax that already existed and says there’s legal precedent allowing it.
But, without Republicans on board, a $20,000 a day special session will be a waste of time and money because that party controls the state Senate.