Colorado lawmakers’ special session to fix a pot-tax error is underway. But will anything get done?

Colorado lawmakers returned to the Capitol for a rare special session Monday — but don’t expect much to happen.

The Republican-led Senate is poised to adjourn as early as Tuesday without taking action to fix an inadvertent error in legislation that prevented special districts from collecting a tax on marijuana.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, said Republican lawmakers are not convinced the legislation is needed at this point and still have questions related to whether the measure requires voter approval.

“We still have some deep-seated constitutional concerns about this so-called fix that is being pushed by the (governor) and by interests outside the capitol,” he told reporters. “Those are not concerns we take lightly.”

The controversy is focused on Senate Bill 267, a far-reaching spending bill approved by the legislation before the session adjourned in May. Republicans and Democrats agree the measure made inadvertent mistakes; the issue is how to fix it.

Democratic leaders point to Colorado Supreme Court decisions to show the legislation would not run afoul of the state constitution and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

House Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, called on lawmakers to stop the “grumbling and finger-pointing” and pass a straightforward fix.

Gov. John Hickenlooper called the special session Sept. 14. The move ignited a heated public spat with Republican legislative leaders. The Democratic governor offered to rescind the order if lawmakers agreed to consider the issue when they return in January, but GOP leaders rejected the suggestion.

The special session costs about $25,400 a day, and it takes a minimum of three days to pass a bill. The majority of the cost is per-diem payments to lawmakers.

The House is expected to give initial approval to a bill to fix the measure Monday, but a similar bill is expected to die in a Senate committee. The House bill is expected to meet the same end Tuesday in the Senate, and the two chambers could then adjourn without taking action.

Because of the bill-drafting error, the Regional Transportation District in the Denver metro area is losing about $560,000 a month in revenue since the bill took effect July 1. The Scientific & Cultural Facilities District — which includes the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and more than 275 other arts and culture organizations — is losing another $56,000 monthly.

The two organizations held an event in the Capitol to ask lawmakers to make the fix but could not point to any immediate impacts.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com



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