Controversial legislative special session set to start Monday

But legislators are under no orders to actually do anything.

State legislators are being forced back to the Capitol Monday morning where they'll just sit there. They don't have to do anything in the special session called for by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

They're not required to fix the tax typo that's accidentally keeping marijuana sales tax revenue from special districts, like RTD and the Denver Zoo, even though that’s what both sides ultimately want.

The snafu happened in May when the legislature passed Senate Bill 267. Among other things, the bill cut marijuana revenue from the 2.9 percent sales tax.

Instead, the special tax on pot was raised from 10 percent to 15 percent. What legislators from both sides missed is that removing pot from the sales tax would hurt special districts, which relied on it for revenue.

“It's difficult to predict exactly the dollar amount. We just know that every month over month [our funding losses] will increase,” said Deborah Jordy of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.

The SCFD is one of many districts Hickenlooper estimates will lose up to $600,000 for every month the issue is not resolved.

It’s why Democrats are so keen on having the special session on Monday.

“We're working with the special districts to see if there's a different way around to try and see if [we can fix this] legally,” Hickenlooper said on the 9NEWS show Balance of Power on September 24. “That [we make sure] they could get the money they've been promised legally. And we couldn't find a way to do that outside of a special session.”

Legal is the operative word there.

Democrats point to past court rulings that have allowed the state legislature to amend tax laws without going to voters.

Republicans, however, reference the Taxpayer Bill of Rights saying any changes to tax code would require a public vote.

It’s one of the several reasons they’re on board with waiting for the regular session come January.

“Of course it bugs me - it bugs Democrats and Republicans that we had to do this right here and right now,” said Senate president Kevin Grantham to 9NEWS.

Grantham repeatedly called on Hickenlooper to rescind his executive order calling the executive session. Each day the legislature meets taxpayers need to pay $25,000. Grantham and other Senate Republicans think this money could be put to better use.

“All of a sudden this became an emergency,” Grantham said

Colorado state law mandates a special session last a minimum of three days.

There is no saying if a resolution to Senate Bill 267 will come in that time.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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