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Friday, September 19, 2014

Lundberg Legislative Report—April 27, 2010

Topics:

1. Senior Homestead Exemption Suspended for Next Two Years

2. My Resolutions Introduced Last Week

3. Joint Select Committee Committee on Child Welfare

4. Governor Signs SB-147

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1. SB-190 passed the Senate last week, eliminating the senior homestead property tax exemption for the next two years. The total additional tax this will result in is over $188,000,000! Ironically it was presented as a spending cut, as it relieves the state general fund of a $188,000,000 liability. That is due to the mechanics of this tax exemption. The actual tax is collected at the county level and the state ends up back filling the difference from the general fund. I still call it a tax increase, for seniors will pay the $188,000,000. In addition, while the constitution does authorize the legislature to adjust the amount of the tax exemption, I do not see any authority given to fully eliminate it. None-the-less, the bill passed on essentially party lines.

2. I introduced three resolutions last week. SCR-6 would limit the inflation guarantee of per-pupil funding to 5%. SCR-7 would repeal the internet software sales tax and out of state sales and use taxes, if approved by a vote of the people. Both of these resolutions are scheduled to be heard in the Senate State Affairs committee on Monday afternoon, May 3.

SJR-45 calls on Congress to obey the Tenth Amendment, and not force Colorado citizens to buy federally mandated medical insurance policies. The resolution carefully lays out the arguments, quoting The Federalists Papers, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and the Supreme Court. This Tenth Amendment resolution is tentatively scheduled to be heard in State Affairs on Wednesday afternoon of next week (May 5), sometime after 1:30 PM. A copy of the Resolution can be found at: Resolution

3. The Joint Select Committee on Child Welfare met for its second and final time last Friday. The committee was formed as a result of the issues surrounding the deaths of 35 children who had had some connection with the Department of Human Services. After two meetings, and over eight hours of testimony, not a lot of new information was discovered. The Department of Human Services defended their procedures and spent a great deal of time explaining their already determined plans. Some associated with the system told us we need to throw more money at the problem. Others insisted we should reallocate our resources toward more support services for families and exercise more restraint in removing children from families.

I was able to draw some conclusions: First, most of the deaths had no connection with the Department. The total number of children who died included many of whom DHS had nothing more than a brief contact with the family within the past five years. The department’s primary failure was not completing the followup reports in a timely fashion. I saw no direct evidence of significant negligence on the department’s part.

Secondly, it is not just a matter of more money, it is matter of better allocation of resources. We need more restraint in removing children from their families and more attempts to help families on the front end, and not just from the government, but private support systems need to be strongly encouraged to be a part of the solution. This brings me to another point: the unintended consequences of the mandatory reporting laws. Anyone whose professional status makes them a mandatory reporter of suspected child abuse knows that in many situations they should not personally get involved as it might lead to a mandatory report. Child welfare should not just be a matter of government programs. We need laws and systems that encourage individuals, neighbors, churches, etc. to get involved, not simply turn it over to the government. Mandatory reporting laws significantly discourage “good samaritans.”

Finally, there needs to be a greater oversight of the system. Checks and balances should be in every part of government, and children’s issues should not be excepted. The privacy of child welfare, which has some appropriate justification, should not preclude adequate oversight. Policy makers, such as members of the legislature, should have access to the particulars when there is a need to know.

4. On April 21 Governor Ritter signed my bill that raises the exemption from lawsuits the cash value of life insurance policies from $50,000 to $100,000.

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