Colorado Public Works Journal, Summer 2021

Advocacy Update for 2021 Colorado Legislative Session ACEC ENGINEERING FORWARD Marilen Reimer The 2021 Legislative Session proved to be ACEC Colorado’s busiest in its 65-year history. Two big themes dominated this session: 1. The pursuit of new and sustainable revenue streams to fund transportation projects, and 2. The exploration of pathways to meet Colorado’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Below is a synopsis of a few bills that met these key legislative themes. After many years of trying, both through the legislative process and on the ballot, Senate Bill (SB) 21-260: Sustain- ability Of The Transportation System finally outlines new fund- ing streams and enterprises that will be supported by fees to fund Colorado’s transportation infrastructure of the future and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Besides the new fees that will generate about $3.8 billion, the legislature also com- mitted about $1.5 billion from the general fund and stimulus dollars over 11 years. ACEC Colorado has offered to work with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) re- garding Section 30 of this bill and its environmental impacts on capacity projects. Although SB21-165: CDOT Project Pro- curement Methods was defeated because it would have lim- ited CDOT’s ability to use alternative delivery methods, elements of SB21-165 were added to SB21-260 to include meetings to inform the public and the industry regarding the selection of a particular alternative delivery method and the posting of that information on the CDOT website. HB21-1303: Global Warming Potential for Public Project Ma- terials contains measures to limit the global warming potential for certain materials used in vertical and horizontal public proj- ects. ACEC Colorado represented both sectors of our mem- bership, including the horizontal and vertical construction sectors, along with many stakeholders that provided valuable input to guide the Office of the State Architect and CDOT in developing policies and processes to reduce carbon-embed- ded materials in projects. One bill that ACEC Colorado contested a portion of in its orig- inal form, includes SB21-262: Special District Transparency that was intended to provide more transparency for special districts. These metro districts were first created in Colorado several years ago to accommodate an increasing population with limited funds for infrastructure. It goes without saying that ACEC Colorado is a proponent of transparency and account- ability, but this bill contained language that went well beyond that. SB21-262 originally required that prior to payment or reim- bursement of the advance of funds by the special district, a Colorado professional engineer (PE) would prepare a written certification attesting to reasonable costs of public improve- ments compared to market conditions, and if those public im- provements had been constructed in substantial compliance with construction plans and any applicable construction stan- dards at the time of construction. These requirements would have gone against the PE’s Practice Act and the State Board of Licensure for Architects, Professional Engineers & Profes- sional Land Surveyors Rules. The certification requirement would have also provided uncertainty for firms doing that work because of its possible impact on the firms’ professional liability insurance. We are thankful that the bill sponsors heard our concerns and removed Section 5 of the SB21-262 bill. We are very grateful to our numerous members, committees and staff who assisted in developing talking points, reached out to legislators and other stakeholders, and testified at com- mittee hearings to provide consulting engineers’ perspectives on the effects of legislation on their businesses, the state and Colorado communities. Although the session sine die on June 8, ACEC Colorado is already preparing for the upcoming coordination that is needed to work with agencies and stake- holders on the implementation of these new laws. The author Marilen Reimer is executive director of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Colorado. She can be reached at 60 | Colorado Public Works Journal