12.05.2016

Main Street Revitalization Act

In 2014 the Colorado Legislature passed HB14-1311, the "Colorado Job Creation and Main Street Revitalization Act," which provided tax credits for Colorado communities to use to boost economic development -- including job creation and tourism -- while preserving the community's unique historic commercial structures.  So how has it been doing so far?  According to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), which administers the Colorado Main Street Program, the Act led to the creation of "266 full-time jobs, 111 part-time jobs and 98 new businesses throughout the 14 Colorado Main Street communities."  In addition, "The Colorado Main Street program helped reinvest in physical improvements from public and private sources during 2015. These improvements included 17 façade updates and the rehabilitation of 98 buildings in all of the 14 Colorado Main Street communities."


Are you interested in getting your town involved in the Main Street initiative?  Check out these resources from DOLA, including the official manual and a downtown planners' guide. When your community has decided to join, go to the Join Main Street page to sign up.

12.01.2016

Conserving Colorado's Rare Plants

Endangered species conservation isn't just about animals -- plant species often become rare and endangered as well.  Colorado is home to a number of rare plants that various state agencies, including the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Colorado State University's Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) have been working to conserve.  In our library you will find a number of resources that detail what Colorado is doing to conserve rare plants.  (Publications without hyperlinks can be checked out in print).
In 2008 the CNHP held a series of Rare Plant Conservation WorkshopsReports on the workshops, and their resulting Conservation Action Plans (2011), are available for our library for
Action plans for other areas include:
CNHP has also conducted many Rare Plant Surveys for locations around Colorado.  Survey reports are available from our library, including:
Reports of specific rare plants have also been prepared by CNHP:
For basic reference on Colorado plant species, see these books from University Press of Colorado:
  • Catalog of Colorado Flora:  A Colorado Biodiversity Baseline, 1992
  • Colorado Flora:  Eastern Slope, 2012
  • Colorado Flora:  Western Slope, 2012
  • Rocky Mountain Flora, 1967
And finally, for a comparison and to see how plant species may have changed over time, see the 1906 Flora of Colorado from the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station.  

11.29.2016

Time Machine Tuesday: Highway Beautification Act of 1965

The Highway Beautification Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 22, 1965, charged states with controlling outdoor advertising -- particularly billboards -- along interstates and federally-funded highways.  In response to the Act, over the next several years, Colorado passed several state laws that would control outdoor advertising adjacent to highways, as well as other beautification measures such as control of of junkyards located alongside highways. 

Colorado had enacted controls on roadside advertising as early as 1937, but following 1965's Highway Beautification Act, the Colorado Legislature passed Senate Bill 6 in 1966, "prohibit[ing] the erection of advertising devices adjacent to the interstate and primary highway systems of this state."  Eventually, legislation allowed for some advertising in urban areas; special permits from the Colorado Department of Transportation; and other exceptions.  Colorado's laws, viewable in digital form via the Colorado Session Laws, include some exceptions added in 1967; the issue of political campaign signs in 1970; 1971 laws regarding permits and exceptions; and further updates to the law in 1979

Today, the Highway Beautification Act is still on the books, and violations of the Act can result of loss of federal funding for the state.  For information on how this half-century-old legislation still applies today, see the Colorado Department of Transportation's Outdoor Advertising Program Reference Guide and Outdoor Advertising Manual, both published in 2015 and available for viewing from our library.

The Highway Beautification Act came in response to scenes like this one in 1950s Missouri.  Photo courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

11.28.2016

Marijuana Taxes

How much money is Colorado receiving from taxation of retail marijuana?  And where does the money go? 

The Colorado Department of Revenue provides answers to the first question.  Their Marijuana Tax Data webpage includes monthly sales tax collection by county, a data archive, and total number of taxes, fees, and licenses in Colorado.  They also have a Quick Answers page that covers marijuana tax information such as retailer and grower/manufacturer requirements, taxes for infused products (edibles), excise tax information, and medical vs. retail marijuana taxation information.  More in-depth information, including copies of marijuana-related statutes, can be found at their Legal Research webpage.


The Colorado Legislative Council has recently published an Issue Brief to answer the second question.  Distribution of Marijuana Tax Revenue is a quick, easy-to-understand overview of where the marijuana tax money goes.  Check our library's web catalog for more info and for new publications as the laws continue to change.

11.23.2016

Ride Sharing, Taxi, and Limo Driver Regulations

A growing number of drivers are making extra money through transportation network companies (TNCs), also commonly known as ride sharing (Uber, Lyft, etc.)  TNCs use smartphone networks to connect drivers and passengers.  Even with the growing popularity of ride sharing, traditional taxicabs and limo services continue to thrive, especially in large cities and at airports.  If you are looking at becoming a TNC, taxi, or limo driver, there are different regulations for each that you should know about.  All three are overseen by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

TNC drivers differ from taxi and limo drivers because they can work however much or little they want; it is not their primary occupation.  However, the state still has regulations for drivers.  Drivers must pass a medical exam, and their vehicles must go through an annual inspection.  Information and forms for drivers are available at the PUC's TNC webpage.  This website also includes some consumer information, including how to file a complaint about a TNC driver.

Taxicabs, shuttles, etc. fall into the category the PUC refers to as "common carriers."  There are a number of medical forms and auto inspection documents that must be filed in order to qualify as a driver.  Furthermore, taxi drivers must submit fingerprints for background checks.  Vehicle, driver, business, fingerprint, tariff, and complaint information can be found at the PUC's common carrier webpage.  This page also links to a database where you can search registered permits.  Common carriers are required to display their permit number on their vehicle.

Limousine drivers are also required to submit fingerprints, medical forms, and driver inspection information.  There are some differences in regulations from taxicab drivers because many limo drivers are self-employed.  Limos fall under the PUC category of "limited regulation carriers." For a carrier information packet, forms, and other information see the PUC's limited regulation carrier webpage.