State Legislature

Legislators await oil, gas task force results

Lawmakers eye construction defect issue

Posted 1/4/15

Republicans expressed doubt the governor's oil and gas task force will provide useful recommendations, and are carefully eyeing construction defect laws that may hinder condo development.

During the second annual Denver Metro Chamber Business …

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State Legislature

Legislators await oil, gas task force results

Lawmakers eye construction defect issue

Posted

Republicans expressed doubt the governor's oil and gas task force will provide useful recommendations, and are carefully eyeing construction defect laws that may hinder condo development.

During the second annual Denver Metro Chamber Business Legislative Preview on Jan. 5, state Senate and House leaders from both sides of the aisle stated perspectives for the legislative session — after an election that saw Republicans take a majority in the Senate, while House Democrats retained a slim edge of 34-31.

Civic leaders await outcomes from the governor's gas task force, which was formed last year after debate over how much control local governments should have on the state's oil and gas industry.

But it's too early to tell whether the task force's findings will influence policy making, said House Minority Leader, Brian Del Grosso, R- Loveland.

“To have two-thirds majority for anything to come out of that — considering the makeup of that task force — I would be kind of surprised if anything actually comes out of there,” said Del Grosso, who spoke at length about the pressures of regulations on the state's multibillion dollar oil and gas industry.

“It seems like the state of Colorado recently has moved from viewing coal, oil and gas as an asset to more of a burden. We are one of the most regulated states in the country when it comes to those natural resources … and to think that we need to regulate that industry more is just crazy to me.”

Senate President Pro Tem Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, agreed.

“We jammed the toolbox full of all sorts of things that communities can use, that the state can use to make sure there was responsible oil and gas development,” Roberts said. “Let's find reasonable compromise, mitigate an intrusion on the surface owner but at the same time let people reasonably and responsibly develop those resources.”

Construction defect laws, which are being criticized for obstructing condo developments, were a topic discussed by speakers, but neither party presented detailed plans for reforms.

New credit requirements, higher insurance rates and the weight of debt that burdens many millennials looking to enter into the housing market, are other areas of concern beside construction defect laws, said Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora.

“There are probably about a dozen different ideas that we spend looking at in the Senate that we think help spur condominium units throughout the state of Colorado in a way that doesn't sacrifice quality or construction,” Carroll said.

Del Grosso and Roberts said little about reforms to the state's construction defect laws but said it is important for the state to present a cohesive bill before more cities follow in the footsteps of Lakewood, which passed its own reform ordinance in October.

“I think each municipality trying to tackle that on their own — it's going to be a bunch of patchwork all across the state,” Del Grosso said. “If we can fix that at the state level, and make that more palpable across the state, I think that's the best way to do it.”

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