Exum’s Wildfire Mitigation Bill Passes House

H-Exum-OfficialExum’s Wildfire Mitigation Bill Passes House

(April 7) – The House gave bipartisan approval today to a bill to encourage Coloradans to reduce the threat that their homes will be destroyed by wildfire.

HB14-1009, sponsored by Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs), increases incentives for property owners to undertake fire mitigation efforts in the so-called wildland-urban interface, where our wild areas intermingle with Colorado’s growing communities. The bill eliminates the wildfire mitigation income tax deduction, which only knocks a few hundred dollars off a tax bill, and replaces it with a wildfire mitigation state income tax credit of up to $2,500.

The credit will equal 50 percent of the costs a taxpayer incurs performing wildfire mitigation on his or her property in a wildland-urban interface zone.

“Our goal is to make our communities safer, and to make them safer for our firefighters,” Rep. Exum said. “I’m hoping the increased incentives will encourage many property owners in the Pikes Peak Region and across Colorado to be more proactive about reducing the chance that they will lose their homes to a future wildfire.”

Rep. Exum’s bill was endorsed by the bipartisan Wildfire Matters Review Committee, of which he is a member, and is a priority in helping Colorado make the fullest possible recovery from the flood and fire disasters that struck the state in 2013.

The House’s 52-12 vote sent the bill to the Senate.

Two Bills to Make Child Care More Affordable Advance in the House

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(April 4) –The House advanced two bills today to increase access to affordable child care for low-income families across Colorado.

HB14-1072, sponsored by Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs), passed the House on initial voice-vote. It will create a state tax credit for families making less than $25,000 a year who do not already qualify for federal tax credits. The bill was recommended by the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force.

“Colorado’s child care costs are one of the biggest barriers to parents staying in the workforce,” Rep. Pettersen said. “This will increase self-sufficiency by helping parents stay in the workforce while their children are being taken care of and preparing for school.”

“Having access to affordable childcare is important to creating a strong economy,” Rep. Exum said. “Many middle-class families already qualify for these tax credits and we need to make sure that we are also helping lower-income families.”

Earlier in the day the House Appropriations Committee approved HB14-1317 on a vote of 8-5. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), modifies the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) to expand the number of families who qualify for the program and increase the quality of child care across the state.

“Colorado has the fifth most expensive child care costs in the entire country,” Rep. Duran said. “This bill will give more families access to affordable child care and reward child care centers that provide high-quality care.”

Bill Honoring All Fallen Veterans Passes Unanimously

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(March 19) – The House unanimously passed a bill today allowing all families of fallen soldiers to receive a Fallen Service Member special license plate.

SB14-132, sponsored by Rep. Tony Exum Sr. (D-Colorado Springs) and mentioned by Gov. John Hickenlooper in his State of the State address in January, changes current state law that only allows families of soldiers who were killed in a combat zone to be eligible for the license plate.

“All of the families of fallen soldiers deserve to be able to honor their loved ones,” Rep. Exum said. “This bill recognizes all of the men and women who have died serving our country.”

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

Exum Bill Honoring Fallen Veterans Clears Committee

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H-Exum-Official

(March 13) – The House Transportation & Energy Committee unanimously approved a bill allowing all families of fallen soldiers to receive a Fallen Service Member special license plate.

Under current law only families of soldiers who were killed in a combat zone are eligible for the license plate.

“This bill honors our brave men and women who have died serving our country,” said Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs), one of the bill’s sponsors. “All the families of fallen soldiers deserve to have these license plates.”

SB14-132, which Gov. John Hickenlooper referenced in his State of the State address, will now be heard on the House floor.

Tax Credit for Childcare Costs Affecting Low-Income Households Passes Committee

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Tax Credit for Childcare Costs Affecting Low-Income Households Passes Committee

(March 5) – This afternoon the Finance Committee passed a bill sponsored by Reps. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs) to ease childcare costs for working families. The vote was 7-5.

“Colorado has one of the most expensive childcare systems in the country and this bill will help single moms and families living paycheck to in the workforce and enable them to continue to pursue their careers,” Rep. Pettersen said. “Higher-income families already qualify for these tax credits. We need to make sure that our most vulnerable families are also protected.”

The bill will create a new state income tax credit for childcare costs that applies to Colorado families that make less than $25,000 a year and do not already qualify for federal tax credits. These families currently do not qualify for the state tax credit for childcare costs because those tax credits are tied to federal income taxes that middle-class families receive.”

HB14-1072 will now be heard by the Appropriations Committee.

Bipartisan Disaster Relief Package Moves Forward

Bipartisan Disaster Relief Package Moves Forward

H-Exum-Official(Jan. 29) – Four disaster relief and prevention bills passed with bipartisan support in committee today. Two of the bills dealt specifically with wildfire prevention while the other two emerged from the Flood Disaster Study Committee.

HB14-1009, sponsored by Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs), will create a tax credit up to $2,500 for homeowners who take actions around their homes to mitigate the threat of fires. It passed the Finance Committee on a bipartisan 10-2 vote and is headed to the House Appropriations Committee.

“This bill will reward homeowners who are reducing the threat of fire around their property and creating safer neighborhoods,” Rep. Exum said. “Ultimately this is about protecting people’s lives and their property and creating safer environments for firefighters to work in.”

The Finance Committee also approved HB14-1006, by Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), which targets businesses that saw their profits plunge after the September floods and will increase their access to state revenues unanimously. The bill is headed to the House Appropriations Committee

“This is about building for the future and cutting red-tape for businesses,” Rep. Singer said. “It will increase tourism by allowing businesses to more easily advertise to potential tourists.”

Earlier in the day the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed HB14-1010 by Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) to clarify regulations about who may oversee a prescribed burn. The bill will now be heard on the House floor.

“The bill will give our hard-working firefighters the support they need to prevent more wildfires across Colorado,” Rep. Hamner said. “This is especially important in my district because many residents live in high wildfire danger areas.”

HB14-1003 by Reps. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) and Dan Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs) to exempt out-of-state disaster relief workers from Colorado income taxes also passed the Finance Committee 11-0 and will move the House Appropriations Committee.

Saving Colorado Jobs

H-Exum-Official(April 2) – A program to help employers retain their work force and save jobs passed the House by a vote of 36 to 26 today.

SB13-157, sponsored in the House by Reps. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs) and Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada), will continue The Colorado Work Share Program created in 2010. The program offers employers an alternative to employee layoffs, allowing them to reduce the work hours of a group of employees instead. Employees then share the remaining work and collect prorated unemployment benefits to offset the reduction in income.

“This program has saved jobs in Colorado. Period,” Rep. Kraft-Tharp said. “There are Colorado businesses throughout the state that have used this program to prevent layoffs of more of our workforce. Anything we can do to ensure Coloradans keep their jobs, we must do.”

Included in this bill are some changes to the current program to bring it in compliance with federal law. The bill also changes the current program by continuing the program indefinitely and increasing the cap on the number of weeks employees may be paid benefits under the program.

“This will allow more Colorado businesses to utilize the program to prevent layoffs and allow Coloradans to keep their jobs,” Rep. Exum said. “We are still recovering from the Great Recession and need to ensure that employers have options like this to keep the state’s economy moving forward.”

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