Thursday, June 5, 2008


At a state Capitol ceremony, Gov. Bill Ritter today signed the final bills from the 2008 legislative session – lauded by the governor as the "Education Session" for groundbreaking accomplishments in education reform and education funding. Gov. Ritter signed 475 bills into law this session.
In addition to education accomplishments, Gov. Ritter also touted gains made in Colorado's burgeoning New Energy Economy, business development, health-care reform and natural-resources protection.
Gov. Ritter also bid farewell to several term-limited lawmakers at today's ceremony, including Rep. Rosemary Marshall and House Majority Leader Alice Madden.
In a special tribute to Madden, the final bill signed today was Madden's House Bill 1353, which will provide greater transparency, accountability and oversight for Colorado's Conservation Easement Tax Credit Program.
"It's been a privilege and an honor to work with all of the departing lawmakers," Gov. Ritter said. "The bills I'm signing today all represent progress and a pragmatic approach to solving problems and getting things done for the people Colorado."
The eight measures signed at the final ceremony of 2008:
SB 11 (Morse/Massey) requires that every auto insurance policy issued in Colorado include $5,000 of medical payment coverage, with an opt-out provision for drivers who already have medical insurance. This will ensure that when car-accident victims receive medical care, they are covered and able to pay for their ambulance, emergency room and trauma care.
"Trauma care is usually the last thing on our minds, but in the blink of an eye it can be the only thing that matters in our lives," Sen. John Morse said. "Two-thirds of Coloradans don't have this coverage on their auto insurance. When these people get into accidents and incur medical costs, the state is left with the bill."
HB 1033 (Levy/Sandoval) extends through 2020 the tax credit for costs incurred in the preservation of historic properties.
HB 1049 (Benefield/Groff) extends the tax credit for donating money to promote childcare in Colorado for another 10 years. This will help charities such as Boys and Girls Clubs and Mile High United Way provide much-needed child care services to working families.
"Oftentimes, one parent has to stay at home – sacrificing a paycheck – to take care of the kids," Rep. Debbie Benefield said. "But we helped address that dilemma by passing HB 1049, making it a little easier for working moms and working families to get the childcare they need."

HB 1151 (Lambert/Schultheis) authorizes a state license plate recognizing the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America in 2010.

HB 1168 (Marshall/Romer) will help Colorado students become "financial literate" about basic personal finances such as banking, borrowing and managing debt. The bill requires the State Board of Education to adopt a financial literacy standard and include that standard in future education assessments.


"We know that if kids are given the right tools, they are less likely to be dragged under by torrents of debt and held under by bad credit," Rep. Marshall said. "This bill offers a genuine lifeboat to kids lost in an otherwise troubled financial sea."


HB 1317 (Looper & Gallegos/Tapia & Schultheis) creates a protocol and directs the Governor to enter into a compact with other states to help military children adjust to a new school when their parents are re-assigned to new military bases or posts.


HB 1325 (Looper/Tapia) creates a pilot program in the Department of Labor and Employment.  to expedite the federal H-2A visa certification process so that eligible workers can come to Colorado legally to maintain and harvest Colorado crops.


HB 1353 (Madden/Isgar) strengthens Colorado's Conservation Easement Tax Credit Program to prevent abuses. Conservation easements are sold or donated by private landowners to nonprofit or governmental entities to guarantee that a parcel of land will never be developed. 
The new and tougher standards signed into law today include increased accountability for conservation easement appraisals, a certification program for the groups that hold conservation easements, strengthened oversight and enforcement of the state tax credit, and the creation of a Conservation Easement Oversight Commission.
"In Colorado, almost a million acres have already been protected to safeguard working farms and ranches, wetlands, migratory habitat, historical areas and scenic views," Rep. Madden said. "Much of this land would have been sold to the highest bidder for construction of a new subdivision or office park if it were not for our state's innovative efforts to protect Colorado's natural and cultural heritage."