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Capitol Hill Watch

The 2022 Colorado General Assembly is underway. The Second Regular Session of the Seventy-third General Assembly convened on January 12th 2022 and is scheduled to adjourn May 11th, 2022.

A lot happens during these sessions. It is when the General Assembly determines billions of dollars for the next year’s budget. “The biggest battles will likely focus on spending. Unlike in 2020, when the government shut down parts of the economy and lawmakers cut $3.3 billion, the state this time around is flush with cash.” Colorado

Part of the General Assembly’s budget-balancing in the 2020 COVID session included canceling a $225 million general fund payment to the Public Employees’ Retirement Association, a requirement under Senate Bill 18-200. That annual payment resumed in the next fiscal year. Colorado PERA provides retirement and other benefits to more than 630K current and former employees and is in the billions of dollars undermanagement.

This is particularly interesting as the State of Colorado has a Climate Action Plan and is funding PERA who does not have climate change risk imbedded in their investment policy as a matter of regular analysis. There have been unsuccessful attempts to incorporate this along with fossil fuel divestment into their fiduciary duties.

This could change led by Rep Emily Sirota and Rep Chris Hansen who created HB 19-1270 that would have the board of trustees of PERA recognize climate change risk in their portfolio.

“The bill requires the board of trustees (board) of the public employees' retirement association (PERA) to retain an organization with experience in public sector pension plans to conduct a study to analyze any climate-related financial risk to the total assets of PERA (fund). The board is required to administer a competitive selection process to solicit unbiased and independent third-party organizations with the necessary credentials to bid for the study and to enter into a contract with the selected organization.”

Rep Hansen is also spearheading along with Rep Alex Valdez a very broad-brush bill SB22-138 to reduce Green House Gas Emissions in Colorado. There are a number if sections interconnected by the goal of reducing GHG emissions but disparate in the sectors that range from tax credits for EV vehicle purchases to the agricultural sector. One area is particularly interesting as it directs the Commissioner of Agriculture to conduct a study examining carbon reduction and sequestration opportunities in the agricultural sector in the state, including the potential development of certified carbon offset programs or credit instruments.

A dynamic future is ours.

Tom Koehler

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