Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ritter signs new energy economy bills


Gov. Bill Ritter signed several key pieces of legislation into law today, including measures that will advance Colorado’s New Energy Economy, improve the state’s K-12 education system, and address criminal-justice and crime-victim issues.

“These bills will enhance the day-to-day lives of Colorado residents and businesses,” Gov. Ritter said. “I applaud the legislative sponsors and constituency groups who helped bring these bills to my desk.”

New Energy Economy

Among the New Energy Economy bills signed today: House Bill 1279, which provides a sales- and use-tax exemption to companies that buy machinery to produce electricity from renewable resources. The bill could save companies up to $18 million over three years.

“These bills are important building blocks as we continue to establish Colorado as a national leader in renewable energy,” Gov. Ritter said. “They invest in public-private partnerships and will help us grow new sources of energy, create new jobs and stimulate new economic opportunities, particularly in our rural, agricultural communities.”

Other New Energy Economy legislation signed today will make it easier to: build transmission lines to get electricity generated from renewable sources onto the grid, bring bio-fuels from research labs to the marketplace, and encourage recycling statewide. The bills are:

HB 1279, Renewable Tax Credits (McKinley/Romer)
HB 1150, Transmission Bonding (Gardner/Kester)
HB 1060, Bringing Biofuels to Market (Riesberg/Shaffer)
HB 1169, Net Metering (Solano/Shaffer)
HB 1288, Recycling (Solano/Shaffer)
HB 1203, Energy Management Conservation Studies (Fischer/Romer)


Gov. Ritter also signed five education bills, including measures to streamline and strengthen Colorado’s School Accountability Reports, and legislation that will bring greater oversight to K-12 on-line education programs.

“There is no higher priority for me than improving student learning,” Gov. Ritter said. “As I said in the State of the State speech, our goal is to cut the dropout rate in half in 10 years. We need to make sure our young people are fully prepared for college and to enter a modern, 21st Century workforce.

“These are ambitious goals. But we can accomplish them by partnering with educators, partnering with teachers and partnering with parents. These bills will help us fulfill those goals.”

Gov. Ritter said the school accountability reform package – House Bills 1270, 1320 and 1345 – represents a significant bipartisan achievement that will allow educators and administrators to focus more on students and less on bureaucratic red tape. The bills call for a review of data systems, the creation of a statewide advisory committee and data dictionary, and the adoption of needed refinements to the School Accountability Reports. The bills are:

HB 1345, Streamline Accountability Reports (Massey & Merrifield/Windels)
HB 1270, Education Data Systems Review and Study (Stephens/Shaffer)
HB 1320, Ed Data Technology System (Benefield/Bacon)
HB 1066, Online Education Reimbursement (Massey/Schwartz)
SB 215, Online Accountability (Windels/T. Carroll)

Criminal Justice

Gov. Ritter praised the criminal-justice and victim-rights bills he signed today, saying they will further anti-recidivism programs he initiated earlier in the year. “Our focus must always be on public safety, crime prevention and victim advocacy,” the Governor said. “We also must do everything we can to keep offenders from becoming repeat offenders. It saves money and it prevents another person from becoming a victim.”

HB 1358 establishes a Colorado Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission. This 26-member task force will review sentencing structures and proven prevention programs, allowing Colorado to become a national leader in sentencing policies and approaches.

HB 1375 closes a loophole in state law by ensuring that if a licensed professional commits a sex crime, the matter is referred to criminal prosecutors and not just handled administratively by a professional review board. Victims also must be notified by state administrative representatives of their right to pursue criminal or civil action, notified of the statute of limitations, and given contact information for law enforcement and community resources.

The criminal-justice bills signed today:

HB 1358, Criminal Justice Commission (T. Carroll/Gordon)
HB 1161, Juvenile Risk Assessment Training (Labuda/Boyd)
HB 1375, Report Sex Crimes Licensed Professionals (Primavera/Bacon)
SB 55, Fund for Crime Victim Services (Boyd/Green)