By Melissa Garcia
DENVER (CBS4) – A special session in the Colorado legislature will begin Monday.
Gov. John Hickenlooper called the session to fix a mistake in the state’s new pot tax law, a mistake costing several organizations millions of dollars.
The special session will cost taxpayers up to $25,000 per day.
Legislators expect the session to last at least three days. Supporters say the cost of waiting, however, would have been much higher.
“What we want to do is correct that mistake as quickly as possible so innocent people aren’t continuing to be harmed,” said Scott Reed, a spokesperson for the Regional Transportation District (RTD).
The mistake in the drafting of Colorado’s law on retail marijuana sales tax is preventing RTD and other special districts, including the district that funds the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, from collecting millions of dollars in revenue.
“The drafting error, which everyone missed – Republicans, Democrats, we all missed this, and the Governor’s office– is costing (around) $600,000 a month,” Hickenlooper said on Friday.
“The longer this mistake stays in place, the greater potential of impact there is,” Reed said.
Since Bill 267 went into effect over summer, the transportation district has already lost $1.6 million, Reed said, “The amount of service that $6 million can buy impacts up to 5,000 people every single day in terms of service that might eventually have to be cut.”
Reed said that fortunately, RTD so far had been able to absorb the lost revenue in its budget.
Kevin Grantham, GOP Senate President, said that the issue could have waited until regular session, which runs January through May.
“We could have done this in January, and there wouldn’t have been this spending extra taxpayer dollars. Extra taxpayer dollars in order to pull everybody in and do this,” Grantham said.
Others, however, believed that the fix could not wait any longer.
“Because of the way that Senate Bill 267 was crafted, the money that has been lost is lost forever,” Reed said.
If too few legislators vote in support of the change, the special session could turn out to be a bust.
Grantham argued that the session brings up constitutional issues that could create misperceptions on fairness and integrity of the legislative process.