In 2009, the Colorado General Assembly passed Senate Bill 09-108, commonly known as Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery Act (FASTER), which provides for creation of the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, a government-owned business chartered to repair and to maintain bridges in Colorado. Previously, that work was performed by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), which is overseen by an 11-member board; that same board now also oversees the Colorado Bridge Enterprise. In addition, CDOT's Executive Director is the Director of the Colorado Bridge Enterprise and CDOT's CFO is CFO of the Colorado Bridge Enterprise.
FASTER imposes a "bridge safety surcharge," based on weight, which is collected whenever a vehicle is registered anywhere in Colorado. Almost half of Colorado's 64 counties will receive no direct benefit from the Colorado Bridge Enterprise; nonetheless, the residents of these 29 counties must pay the same bridge tax as residents of the counties allegedly benefitted by the tax.
Government-owned enterprises, which are exempt from the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (TABOR) if 90 percent self-supporting and operating independently from state government, cannot levy taxes; they may only assess fees for their services.
Colorado's Independence Institute previously exposed FASTER's constitutional deficiencies in a pair of studies published in May 2011: "How Colorado Has Raised $300 Million In Debt Without Asking Its Citizens: The Colorado Bridge Enterprise," by Richard Sokol; and "Colorado Bridge Enterprise: A Case Study in Contravening Colorado's Constitution," by Tom Ryan.
On May 21, 2012, the TABOR Foundation filed a complaint in Denver District Court, alleging that the actions of the Colorado Bridge Enterprise violate TABOR. On August 14, 2012, state defendants filed answers denying the substance of the TABOR Foundation’s claims. On September 18, 2012, discovery commenced.
On February 11, 2013, the TABOR Foundation filed a motion for summary judgment. State defendants filed a response on April 1, 2013, and the TABOR Foundation replied on April 8, 2013. On April 15, 2013, the district court denied the motion, but did not identify the facts remaining in dispute that prevented summary judgment. Trial was held on May 13 and 14, 2013. The TABOR Foundation and state defendants filed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law on June 4, 2013.
On July 19, 2013, the district court issued a decision denying the TABOR Foundation’s claims. On September 6, 2013, the TABOR Foundation filed a notice of appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals. On January 21, 2014, the TABOR Foundation filed its opening brief. On March 13, 2014, the state defendants filed a joint answer brief. On April 2, 2014, the TABOR Foundation filed a reply brief. On July 8, 2014, oral arguments were held by the Court of Appeals. On August 14, 2014, the Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of the district court. On September 25, 2014, the TABOR Foundation filed its petition seeking Supreme Court review. On October 21, 2014, state defendants filed their opposition. On October 27, 2014, the TABOR Foundation filed a reply. On June 29, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear the case over the abstention of one judge and the dissent of another.