Public Policy Corner

Learn more about NAIOP Colorado's efforts to advance public policy that protects and encourages responsible, sustainable development that creates jobs and benefits the communities in which our members work and live. 

January 2022 Public Policy Update 

By Erin GoffPrincipal at Husch Blackwell Strategies

The second regular session of the 73rd General Assembly of the State of Colorado is set to begin on Wednesday, January 12. While Democrats remain in control with a 41-24 majority in the House and a 20-15 majority in the Senate, it promises to be an interesting session with the 2022 election looming in the wake of the recent redistricting. 

As is the case every year, NAIOP Colorado will be present at the state capitol actively advocating on behalf of its members. While many issues impact the commercial real estate industry, following are a few that have already appeared on our radar, and with which we are actively involved:

Brownfields Tax Credit

The environmental remediation tax credit (Brownfields Tax Credit) is set to expire on January 1, 2023. NAIOP is working with a coalition of supporters and users of this tax credit on a bill to extend the tax credit another 10 years (through 2033) and increase the annual cap from three million to seven million dollars. This will likely be a late bill as the state auditor’s office has not completed the review of the tax credit. That report is scheduled to be available sometime in January. 

Premises Liability

Last year, a large and diverse coalition came together to educate the legislature regarding the ramifications for all landowners caused by the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision in Wagner v. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. NAIOP was and remains a member of this coalition. The plan in 2021 was to introduce a bill that would reject this decision with respect to the tests of foreseeability and proximate cause applicable to claims brought under the Colorado Premises Liability Act (the Act). The intent of the bill being to establish the tests of foreseeability and proximate cause courts should apply in cases brought under the Act. While this effort did not gain enough traction last year to get a bill introduced, the coalition now has committed bipartisan House and Senate sponsors. A bill title has been secured and drafting should begin soon. 

Affordable Housing 

During the 2021 Legislative session the legislature created a number of interim committees and task forces. One of these, the Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force, was tasked with making recommendations to the legislature regarding how to spend the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds dedicated to affordable housing. In addition to the task force, a subpanel was appointed that includes a variety of community members (non-legislators) representing different housing interests. This subpanel made recommendations to the task force which in turn will make recommendations to the legislature. The ultimate allocation of these funds will be drafted into a bill or bills and must go through the legislative process like any other bill.  

Throughout the interim there has been much discussion (both in and outside of these task force meetings) about the local government-imposed hurdles that developers must overcome in order to build affordable housing. Colorado is a strong home-rule state which prevents our state legislature from placing mandates on local governments when it comes to planning and zoning. However, it is likely that we’ll see legislation come out of this task force’s work that creates incentives for developers and local governments to prioritize density. A significant sum of the ARPA funds could be directed toward grands and low-interest loans meant to encourage developers and local governments to build or preserve affordable units. As always, NAIOP will look for opportunities to push for additional construction defects reform that will further facilitate and encourage the development of affordable for-sale multi-family housing.

An adage often heard at the state capitol “if you are not at the table, you are on the menu” is absolutely true. If you do not know who your state Senator or Representative is, look them up here: The NAIOP Public Policy Committee meets twice a month during the legislative session. 

For more information regarding the Chapter's Public Policy efforts, please reach out to Public Policy Chair Caitlin Quander or NAIOP Executive Director Kathie Barstnar


August 2021 Public Policy Update 

By Kathie Barstnar, Executive Director, NAIOP Colorado

The Colorado General Assembly adjourned on June 8 after 116 days. This session has been described as one of the most controversial in recent memory and many in the business community believe the impacts will be felt for many years. Click Here for a recap of all the bills that NAIOP worked on in 2021.  A couple of the key bills were:

  1. HB21-1286 Energy-Use Benchmarking and Performance Standards for Buildings: This is one of the bills on which NAIOP Colorado secured a significant victory. At the beginning of the session it appeared that this bill would sail through as drafted. As introduced it would have required owners of buildings 50,000 sf or greater all across the state to benchmark their energy usage AND reduce such energy use by 15% by 2026 with additional reductions being designated by the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) every five years until 2040. Additionally, it would have required severe penalties for non-compliance including a $.02 per sf per day fine until compliance is achieved. NAIOP, along with a wide coalition of other building related organizations opposed this bill as overreaching and too aggressive. After significant testimony in opposition and a threat by the House Republicans to filibuster the bill, sponsors met with our industry representatives and an agreement to pivot the bill to a task force was forged. The task force will meet and determine ways to bridge the gap from the aspirational goals to implementable actions with a statewide reduction of 15% by 2026 and setting up a plan for future task force input to the AQCC. NAIOP Colorado has been given a designated position on the task force. Stay tuned for updates as the Task Force starts to meet later this year.
  2. HB21-1117 Local Government Authority to Promote Affordable Housing Units. This bill authorizes local government to require construction of affordable housing within their boundaries without being in violation of the state statute prohibiting rent control by exempting local government land use regulations that restrict rents on newly constructed or redeveloped housing units. NAIOP opposed this bill unless amended to provide guard rails on what local governments could implement. A qualification was added stating that “the (local) regulation provides a choice of options to the property owner or land developer and creates one or more alternatives to construction of new affordable housing units on the building site.” It was signed by the Governor and now local governments are considering what policies to implement. Our efforts now switch to working with county and municipal governments as they consider different ordinances with affordable housing requirements.

The City and County of Denver has been very active on several fronts including affordable housing and energy efficiency along with ballot initiative submissions in anticipation of the fall elections of 2021 and 2022. Here are some updates:

  1. Energize Denver Task Force: As an outcome of the recently completed Climate Action Task Force 2020 Recommendations Report the Energize Denver Task Force has been meeting the past 8 months to develop a plan to reduce energy use in commercial buildings to meet the 2030 and 2040. Kathie Barstnar has represented NAIOP Colorado on this Task Force. The final meeting of the task force is set for August 19 after which their proposed report will be presented to the Denver City Council. Here is a link to the latest draft report published on July 29, 2021. As soon as the updated report is available, we will make sure you have access to it and will request your participation during its process through the City Council and Regulatory drafting process.
  2. Denver Expanding Housing Affordability: In line with above report on HB21-1117, the City of Denver is undertaking a public process to involve: 1) Citywide zoning incentive for affordable housing; 2) increase to the City’s linkage fee; 3) requiring affordable housing as part of developments. For more information, please visit the City and County of Denver's Expanding Housing Affordability website.  Please consider sharing your feedback to the City about what you want to see in affordability or sign up to participate and attend an upcoming industry focus group. Click Here for more details

For more information regarding the Chapter's Public Policy efforts, please reach out to Public Policy Chair Caitlin Quander or NAIOP Executive Director Kathie Barstnar.