Colorado Plans Fee on Ridesharing and Food Delivery Services, But Unsure How Revenue Will Be Spent
State government officials and industry representatives met last week to discuss the rulemaking process for SB 239, a recently-passed law in Colorado that will place a fee on transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, and possibly delivery services like Amazon, DoorDash and Grubhub.
Last week, Western Wire reported on the comments of Will Toor, the director of the Colorado Energy Office, made at a Society of Environmental Journalists event discussing SB 239’s goal of disincentivizing ridesharing vehicles to limit traffic congestion and fight climate change. Toor also said he hopes the law helps move Colorado toward vehicle electrification.
The biggest question to come out of Wednesday’s meeting at the Colorado Department of Transportation offices was how the revenue generated by the fee will be spent, a primary concern of industry representatives who appeared willing to embrace the new law as long as they received clarity on the purpose of the money generated.
One big obstacle to answering that question is TABOR – the Colorado law that mandates surplus revenue collected by the state be returned to taxpayers, as was acknowledged by State Rep. Chris Hansen.
“We will have plenty of TABOR gymnastics to do together, and having enterprise, we cannot increase the amount of TABOR-eligible revenue in this process,” Hansen said.
“We have pretty clear statutory limitations on what we can use these fees for,” Hansen continued. “They just can’t suddenly be transferred to K-12 or some other thing. I was just jotting down transit, transportation, maybe some environmental quality uses depending on how the fee was structured.”
Who makes the decision of how the money will be spent is also unclear. The rulemaking process that is scheduled to conclude at the end of the year may ultimately result in the state legislature controlling appropriations authority. If not, spending control could be handled by officials within the administration of Gov. Jared Polis.
Another key question is how to define “commercial” vehicle. While the conversation at the Department of Transportation meeting focused primarily on companies like Uber and Lyft that transport passengers, companies that deliver food and goods such as Amazon, DoorDash, and Grubhub were also debated.
“Do we care about what’s being delivered? In terms of people or goods,” Jonathan Bartsch, a resolution professional tasked with leading the meeting. The group weighed the question but did not reach a consensus.
The next stakeholder meeting is scheduled to take place in September.