Public trustee, pine beetle, CMU bills signed

DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel—Gov. John Hickenlooper tries to fix a malfunctioning pen Monday during a bill-signing ceremony in Grand Junction. The governor also signed bills in Glenwood Springs.

Public trustees, spruce pine beetles and Colorado Mesa University.

Gov. John Hickenlooper was in Grand Junction on Monday to sign bills affecting all three.

The first measure, sponsored by Rep. Ray Scott, requires that the governor-appointed public trustees use the state’s procurement laws when contracting for services, including where they publish foreclosure notices.

The Grand Junction Republican said the bill attempted to change a 118-year-old law, and the resistance he received surprised him.

“It’s amazing when you have a statute that old that it becomes like an institution, like the Capitol itself,” Scott said at a bill-signing ceremony at the Old Mesa County Courthouse. “It’s very, very difficult to work around, but we were able to come together in a bipartisan manner and pull this together.”

Under the bill, trustees must submit their annual budgets for review to local county commissions, be audited by the state each year and use the state or county procurement code for purchases of more than $20,000.

The measure, which becomes effective Aug. 8, affects all 11 public trustees appointed by the governor in the state’s 11 largest counties, including Mesa County.

The governor also signed a bill to add milled wood damaged by the spruce pine beetle to the state’s law offering sales tax breaks to wood products from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle.

Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, said the measure was similar to a bill she tried to get through the Legislature last year.

The measure, which Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, carried in the Senate, is expected to reduce state sales tax revenue by about $640,000 a year.

The third measure signed by Hickenlooper, also sponsored by King and Scott, would allow the CMU board of directors to increase its membership to 13 from the current 11, and allow that board to increase enrollment standards similar to those at other large, Colorado state universities.

The CMU and spruce beetle measures go into effect July 1.

Elsewhere on the Western Slope, the governor signed a bill in Glenwood Springs that would lower the state’s inheritance tax on agricultural property.

Rep. Sal Pace, the Pueblo Democrat who sponsored the bill, said state inheritance taxes are tied to the federal estate tax, so doing away with it would only lead to all the tax revenue going to the federal government. Keeping a state tax, but offering a tax break, cuts that tax liability by as much as 15 percent, he said.

The governor also signed a bill creating a new hunting and fishing vehicle license plate. Both measures become effective Aug. 8.


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