Jerry Kopel

KOPEL: CASINO TAX DILEMMA WON'T BE OVER EASILY

Legislators scramble to fix bad egg law

For decades, Colorado’s executive branch has treated people who eat eggs pretty negligently.

Now, however, the Department of Regulatory Agencies Sunset research staff and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, are well on the way to protecting egg eaters from former loopholes in Colorado’s egg inspection laws through Senate Bill 127, which has been signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter.

According to DORA, the Agriculture Commission recognizes its duty to stop large sales of bad eggs, but the Legislature has not given the agriculture staff the authority to inspect vehicles that transport large shipments of eggs. Inspection would enable them to find bad eggs before they reach consumers.

DORA had found virtually no regulation concerning transportation of eggs from the wholesalers to the retailers. From now on, both wholesalers and retailers will be defined as “dealers,” and will, therefore, be subject to regulation. This loophole, of course, was known to earlier administrations.

The passage of SB 127 marks DORA’s success in the goal of cutting down on the number of differently defined agents involved in Colorado’s egg industry. DORA also has succeeded in urging the Legislature to expand authority over “the sanitation of temperature required of vehicles used to transport eggs in all of the delivery process.”

DORA recommended that the agriculture commissioner have control over rules on transportation, refrigeration and processing of eggs, as well as over criteria for licensing dealers. There had been no authority allowing inspectors to check vehicles used to transport eggs during business hours to make sure the eggs were kept within a safe temperature range. SB 127 does that.

Exempt from regulatory law, if they want exemption, are persons producing and retailing fewer than 250 dozen eggs per month.

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Did you read the actual language now in the Constitution before you voted to expand hours, games and bets for limited gaming?

“Annual adjustment in connection with distributions to limited gaming fund recipients listed in subsection (5) (b) (II) of this section (Kopel: That is the replacement on 28 percent to State Historical Society (SHS) and 50 percent to general revenue) to reflect the lesser of 6 percent of, or the actual percentage of, annual growth in gaming tax revenue attributable to this section (7). (Kopel: This section divides up the new money.)

House Bill 1272 rewrites the meaning of “annual adjustment” to reflect in the first year (2009-’10) “the payment shall equal 6 percent of the first year’s limited gaming revenues attributable to extended limited gaming.” So, if the true figure is 2 percent, the payment to the SHS would still be 6 percent.

Payments for subsequent years follow the Constitution’s language until we get a new definition of “limited gaming tax revenue attributable to extended limited gaming” meaning:

“all limited gaming tax revenue in excess of the amount collected during fiscal year 2008-’09,” adjusted as follows:

“There is a new 2008-’09 base which is 3 percent greater, not 6 percent greater, than the adjusted base, and each year thereafter there is a lesser of 3 percent added to the lesser sum adjusted percent for the prior fiscal year.”

Joanne Ditmer wrote an excellent column in the Denver Post on the House Committee vote on dividing the extended limited gaming law money. She pointed out that “proponents of the November vote promised the historic fund would continue to get its share of ‘old’ limited gaming proceeds and a small portion of new expanded proceeds.”

The Gaming Commission could license some slot and other games as “$5 or under” games, but I don’t believe that will happen.

I read Ditmer’s column to mean it won’t be possible to determine old and new proceeds, so it is worth reiterating that the money going to SHS would be determined using a base starting with the 2008-’09 funding, bumped up by 3 percent, capped with no more than 3 percent or less for future base adjustments after 2009-’10.

With another possible $200 million deficit on top of what is already expected, the attempts by community colleges to get a big sum on top of what they might have received without the expansion of gaming probably will meet doom in a special session after the regular session ends in May.

If anyone has a better explanation of the dividing of money under HB 1272, please write or e-mail me at jerrykopel@aol.com.

The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

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The state auditor has found it nearly impossible to compare demographic trends among purchasers of lottery tickets, and that attempts over the past few years made by “trackers” using a variety of approaches have failed to yield usable information.

The entire “section” for comparison of players and income began in 1987. It was repealed in 2000 in a secretive manner, then brought back into the statutes in 2002. The 2002 statute avoided comparisons, making it difficult for me or other observers to spot what was happening among lottery players.

For many years, I have written of concerns that the lottery players tended to be poor and minority, young and old.

The auditor’s report for fiscal 2007 showed one out of five players earned less than $40,000. One out of four refused to disclose income, and 43 percent earned $40,000 to $100,000.

In fiscal year 2007, 84 percent of the players were white/non-Latino, and 7 percent were Hispanic/Latino. One out of five was a high school graduate and 47 percent of the total had a college graduate or postgraduate degree.

Only 7 percent were under 25 years of age and one out of three was 55 or older.

Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.