GREELEY – Weld County will likely be one of the hardest hit areas in the state if a bill requiring packaging material manufacturers to fund a statewide recycling program is passed by the legislature, leading some to question Weld’s future legislative representation after the redistricting.
At issue is House Bill 22-1355 “Producer Responsibility Program for Recycling,” which would require “producers of products that are… packaging materials and paper products sold, offered for sale, or distributed in the State” to pay “annual producer responsibility contributions”. .”
The dues would fund a program to “implement and administer a statewide program (program) that provides recycling services to covered state entities, which are defined as residences, businesses, schools, government buildings and public places”.
Premium costs will be passed on to consumers at a time when inflation in Colorado is already at one of its highest rates on record (7.5%) and above the national average.
The bill also creates another named bureaucracy through the “statewide recycling advisory board…which consists of members who have expertise in recycling programs and knowledge of recycling services in different regions.” geography of the state.
For northern Colorado, especially Weld County, which produces the majority of Colorado’s food, this would impact nearly every farmer and rancher. Weld County is also part of a rapidly growing plastics manufacturing sector according to information from the Upstate Colorado Economic Development website.
Upstate Colorado is a public/private non-profit economic development corporation that provides services to all of Weld County.
According to information on the website, the food processing and manufacturing cluster in northern Colorado grew by 15% from 2015 to 2020, and in 2020 the reported gross regional product was $1.3 billion. dollars, another 5% increase is expected in the next few years.
Products manufactured include animal feed, bakery products, candy and chocolate, coffee and tea, dairy, distilleries, agricultural wholesalers, glass containers, malt beverages, cereals, sugar, fruits and vegetables, soft drinks, specialty foods, wineries and meat processing. .
The growing plastics sector, which includes companies such as Vestas, OtterBox, JBS and Leprino Cheese, recorded more than $200 million in sales in 2020 from 37 employers in Weld and Larimer counties.
To make matters worse, however, the bill’s main sponsor in the Senate is Adams County Republican Kevin Priola. Priola is expected to represent Weld County in Senate District 13 for the 2023 and 2024 sessions by default of the new district boundaries. Priola currently represents Senate District 25.
When many of the state’s legislative districts were redrawn as part of the recent redistricting effort, Priola was dropped from 25 and 13, who is currently represented by term-limited Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley at the end of 2022. .
However, part of the redistricting rules is that current lawmakers cannot be removed from office, so Priola, who was just re-elected in 2020, will represent SD13 for two years before the seat is elected again.
Priola has long been known in the Republican Party as often veering to left-center positions in his voting and sponsorship of bills, leaving many in Weld to wonder if the Adams County resident will vote for the ideals of his new voters. of Weld County or ignore their values. .
Priola did not return several requests for Finish Colorado for comment.
Colorado Liberty Scorecard, a subjective, conservative organization that ranks lawmakers by their vote on individual rights, free markets, and limited government, gave Priola a 29% mark for his voting record, the lowest in all Republicans in the 2021 session and only 1% more than Democratic Senator Kerry Donovan.
Also in 2021, Independence Institute* President Jon Caldara named Priola among five nominees for his annual “Californian of the Year” award.
Caldara said in his nomination that Priola proves that a Republican can also be a Communist.
“The Colorado Taxpayers’ Union (CUT) ranked Kevin lowest among his fellow Republicans. This is a particularly impressive achievement as he is one of the signatories of CUT’s pledge to oppose any further net tax increases,” Caldara said. “So it took real effort to vote for tax hike after tax hike – all without asking for voter consent – on gas, delivery services, hospital stays, Prop TABOR destructive CC and much more.”
Weld County Commissioner and current Chairman Scott James said he has yet to meet Priola, so he’s not sure what kind of relationship the board will have with him, but as of now – knowing that he will soon represent Weld – Priola continues to sponsor or support bills. who are not friendly with Weld County, something that concerns James.
“I can’t worry about my relationship with him until I make an effort to sit down and talk to the guy and make sure he understands Weld County’s concerns,” James said, adding his relationship to the current senator from Senate District 13. John Cooke is very good.
But, James said, Cooke lives in County Weld, so he already knows what Weld County residents are concerned about.
“Now I’m going to pick up an Adams County resident who represents Weld County,” James said. “I want to make sure he knows what Weld County is. “I want to be able to develop this relationship where I can pick up the phone and express my concern.
However, to date, Priola has not contacted the Weld County Commissioners to ask them to know.
James said HB-1355 was another punitive attack on Weld County agriculture.
“Why do we need a government solution to this?” said James. “Why do we need more government? Why do we need the government to subsidize recycling? If it was really required by the free and fair market, then a solution would present itself.
James pointed out that in the original legislation newspapers were included in the industries required to pay the annual fee, but they have since been removed from the additional liability, adding that it appears Weld County is being punished every pen stroke.
“I find it interesting that newspapers were able to evade this legislation, but not agriculture,” James said. “Weld County is a good, old-fashioned, working, producing, essential county. And every bill hits us. That will show you the tone-deaf attitude the legislature has toward rural counties. Basically, every policy that comes out of the Golden Dome this year is punishing those trying to make a living. It punishes the middle class.
James said if he could say one thing to Priola it would be “call Weld County and we’ll show you why you shouldn’t sponsor this bill.”
It’s not the first time this year that James has been on the opposite side of the law with Priola.
House Bill 22-1295, which would provide free preschool to all Colorado children, takes away county services because of a complicated funding method that merges pools of money. James and several other fellow commissioners from across Colorado argued for amendments to make the bill more palatable, including one that created a governance council to oversee the new program, rather than a single director.
James said it looked like the commissioners won the battle when Democrat Tammy Story accepted the amendment; however, Priola reversed the other direction, nullifying Story’s vote and killing the amendment in committee. Another piece of evidence about him.
“That means Senator Priola thinks the consent of the governed is not important,” James said. “He thinks the county commissioners, the enforcers in the counties, should have no say in how the new CDEC is set up and run.”
*Finish Colorado is a project of Independence Institute.
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