Senior services could receive boost from plan
DENVER — Seniors who need help with meals or other services could see a new funding source for those programs under a bill approved in a Senate committee Friday.
As part of a bill to reinstate dental care services to the elderly, an amendment was tacked on to the bill allocating the unused portion of the senior homestead exemption to pay for other senior programs, such as Meals on Wheels.
This year, the Legislature approved nearly $100 million for the property tax exemption given to seniors 65 and older who have lived in their homes 10 years or longer. It is only the fifth time the exemption has been funded since voters approved it in 2000.
Because not all of that money is used, Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk, amended House Bill 1326 to use any leftover funds for senior programs.
According to the Colorado Department of Property Taxation, the most funds that went unused was about $770,000.
The bill heads to the Senate for more debate.
The Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill designed to address a Colorado Court of Appeals decision last year that ballots are subject to the Colorado Open Records Act.
Under SB155, ballots would be exempt from the act 45 days before an election and however long it takes afterwards for county clerks to complete their counts, including any recounts that might be needed.
“What we’re trying to do here is balance the right to transparency in elections and also the right of an individual voter to the privacy of their ballots,” said Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, who introduced the bill with Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden. “What this bill fundamentally does is it stays CORA from the time the ballots are first cast ... until the clerks certify these ballots. After that, it is subject to the normal CORA.”
The Senate also gave its preliminary nod to a bill that creates more state and local government oversight of the 11 governor-appointed public trustees in the state, including Mesa County Public Trustee Paul Brown.
The measure, HB1329, requires those trustees to use the state or county’s procurement rules when entering into contracts of $20,000 or more.
The bill also was amended to require the trustees to submit their budgets to county commissioners for review, but does not give commissioners the authority to alter those budgets.
The bill also was amended to require the trustees to face state audits once a year, rather than every two years.
Gov. John Hickenlooper issued his first veto of the session on Friday, nixing a bill that would have expanded the number of regional tourism projects that could be funded in any single year.
Under the state’s Regional Tourism Act, the Colorado Economic Development Commission can approve up to two projects, capped at $50 million for both.
The measure Hickenlooper vetoed, SB124, would have increased that to six projects.
The governor said he vetoed the bill because it seemed like too much too fast.