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Bill to Address Pot-Tax Error Signed Into Law

A bill intended to right a drafting error in a 2017 law that inadvertently withheld millions of dollars in cannabis tax revenue from special districts across the state has officially been signed into law. SB 88 zoomed through the General Assembly in barely over a month and was signed by Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne on Thursday, February 22.

Introduced by Republican Senator Bob Gardner, the new law aims to correct a gaffe in SB 267, a measure that raised the state cannabis tax from 10 percent to 15 percent and exempted retail pot sales from a 2.9 percent state sales tax. Unfortunately, that sales-tax exemption accidentally blocked the pot revenue from going to special districts like the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, which have lost $560,000 and $56,00 per month, respectively, since the change took effect in July 2017.

The new law reauthorizes retail pot revenue for the state sales tax and leaves it up to special districts to decide if they want to accept the funding. That way, according to Gardner, it complies with the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. Although some Republican senators were worried the bill still overstepped its TABOR boundaries and an amendment was introduced in the House of Representatives to ensure the millions in lost funds weren't paid back retroactively, SB 88 still flew through the legislature, passing its final reading less than five weeks after its introduction.

Governor John Hickenlooper, who pushed a failed special session in October 2017 to address the issue, wasn't able to sign it; he was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the National Governors Association.

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