Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crash Tax survives

Charging fees to auto-accident victims for emergency services remains an option for local governments after a measure designed to curb the practice fell short Senate Local Government Committee Tuesday.

House Bill 1059, sponsored by Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, and Sens. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, would have stopped larger communities—with larger local tax bases—from imposing fees on victims of car wrecks. Smaller communities would have been exempted from the ban.

Tochtrop said the measure was pre-emptive to protect accident victims from receiving a bill from responders.

“Without this ban, innocent victims of auto accidents will suffer,” said Tochtrop. “People don’t have control over an accident.”

Spence told the panel the bill was needed to prevent the practice from becoming too easy a temptation for cash-strapped jurisdictions.

“If we don’t stop it, it will spread throughout communities as a way to collect revenues for services already paid for by taxpayers.”

Those who voted against the measure expressed concerns over pre-emptively taking away an option that should be determined at the locality, not be the state.

“I have faith in local governments that they will make the right decisions over these fees,” said Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk.

The bill failed on a 4-1 vote.

Via - Colorado News Agency

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