Crowder weighs in on legislation

Senator Larry Crowder

VALLEY — Governor Jared Polis on Friday signed the Income Tax Residency Presumption For Military bill sponsored by State Senator Larry Crowder from the San Luis Valley.

Senator Crowder (R) represents District 35, which includes the six counties in the San Luis Valley as well as nine other southern Colorado counties and rural Pueblo County.

The bill, SB 19-029, concerns the Colorado income tax liability of an individual in active duty military service. Under current law, an individual in active duty military service whose home of record is Colorado and whose state of residence is a state other than Colorado is allowed to reacquire residency in Colorado and not pay Colorado state income tax on his or her military income.

The bill creates a presumption that the individual’s state of residence is a state other than Colorado if the individual was stationed in another state and provides certain documentation to demonstrate that the other state was the individual’s residence. If an individual is presumed to have a state of residence other than Colorado, the presumption may only be overcome with a preponderance of specific evidence that clearly establishes that the individual did not intend to change his or her residence to a state other than Colorado.

Crowder explained that this bill expands on 2014 legislation enabling active duty military outside of Colorado to make Colorado their home state and receive the tax breaks from doing so. That bill did not address those already here, however, so Crowder proposed legislation to fix that.

Crowder is a veteran who has supported veterans issues at the state capitol.

Senator Crowder shared his stand on other bills currently before the state legislature:

On SB-181 (oil and gas regulation), which was debated on the floor of the senate last week, Sen. Crowder said the discussion revolved around safety, environmental concerns, jobs and industry. He pointed out that currently well over 100,000 people make their living in this industry in all parts of the state.

“The huge benefit to the state coffers from severance taxes which funds education, water projects and portions of counties funding are at stake,” Crowder stated.

For example, the Town of San Luis was awarded $62,618 earlier this month from Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance funds (state severance tax proceeds) to support a permanent town manager position for three years in San Luis, and the Costilla County Fire Protection District was awarded $179,068 from Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance funds to purchase a super tanker/tender.

“Currently the Colorado oil and gas industry is the heaviest regulated industry in the nation and the continuous improvements on safety and the environment were disregarded,” Crowder stated.

The senator added that energy independence is paramount to this discussion. “A few short years ago there was an outcry of our foreign involvement in wars for oil, which cost American military lives. Now there is a new green movement to scale back energy production. Alternative energy is progressing, but not to the point of reliance. We still need fossil fuel for agriculture, manufacturing production, health care, and home heat.”

Although SB-181 passed the Senate 19-15, pretty much along party lines, Crowder did not support it. Action 22 had also opposed the bill because of its potential negative economic impact on member counties.

Crowder also opposed HB-1177, the “Red Flag Bill,” which passed the house and was introduced in the senate assigned to Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Friday, March 15. Crowder recapped that upon court order, a person could be found to be unstable and the person’s guns could be confiscated. He said the bill finds a person guilty before a crime has been committed. The senator had concerns about constitutional infractions related to this proposed bill. He stated that an individual’s right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Colorado Constitution to keep and bear arms should not be infringed upon unless a person committed a crime using a firearm.

“Currently there are already laws on the books to prevent this, A M-1 hold for up to 72 hours for mental instability and also a law which simply states that it is unlawful to commit bodily harm against another person,” Crowder said. He said he believed this bill would have “very little effect on the problem of shootings, but could place the innocent in jeopardy of gun confiscation with no crime committed.”

The senator pointed to a 2018 research study by the Crime Prevention Research Center, which studied the impact of “Red Flag” bills in four states that had implemented the bill as early as 1999. To quote the summary, “Red flag laws had no significant effect on murder, suicide, the number of people killed in mass public shootings, robbery, aggravated assault, or burglary. These laws apparently do not save lives.”

Numerous Colorado counties have declared themselves sanctuary counties in protest of this impending law including the Valley counties of Alamosa, Conejos and Rio Grande Counties. Crowder said he gave those counties his “total support.”

Crowder also opposes SB-182, which would abolish the death penalty in Colorado. The bill has passed committee in the senate and has been delayed on the floor. Crowder said the bill would not affect the three people in Colorado currently on death row, and past governors have placed a moratorium on carrying out their sentences. The death penalty has not been carried out in Colorado for 22 years.

“To give some insight one of these death row inmates killed four people and severely injured a fifth who worked in a restaurant in which the gunman was fired nine months before the crime,” Crowder explained. “Two of the people killed were 17 years old and a third was 19. This took place by a disgruntled employee who planned for months to carry this out. To have one of the victims plead for her life and this rogue killed her anyway leads me to believe that I cannot support this bill.”

He added, “For some people this seems to be a question of morality. I believe this is a question of justice. I cannot place the safety, comfort, and emotional well being of the perpetrator over that of the victim who had no choice. The statue of the lady holding the balance of justice is blindfolded to indicate that whoever commits a crime so heinous as these crimes is not judged on color or financial standing, rather the crime itself.”