Case Studies

Our individualized approach allows us to tailor our strategy to the unique complexities of each campaign or initiative. The Capstone Group takes on every challenge, no matter how involved, with the targeted focus and wide-ranging tactics needed to advance issues and drive outcomes. A few examples of The Capstone Group’s successes include:


HB 16-1284: Combating the BDS Movement Against Israel in Colorado

Challenge: A bipartisan group of legislators at the state capitol were interested in pursuing legislation to combat the negative effects of the BDS movement but were unsure how to move forward. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign calls for the international community to impose broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and impose embargoes and sanctions against the state of Israel. While some supporters of BDS may genuinely believe that these efforts will encourage Israel to change policies with which they disagree, the predominant drive of the BDS campaign and its leadership is not criticism of policies but to demonize and delegitimize Israel. The Colorado legislators wanted to ensure that Colorado took a stand against these policies.

Strategy: The Capstone Group in partnership with a key contingent of bipartisan legislators conducted extensive research and decided to develop a bill that would prohibit the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) from investing in national and international companies that engage in the BDS campaign. Prior to introduction of the bill, the Capstone Group engaged PERA to ensure their input was received and included so the bill could be implemented if passed. Our team also initiated conversations with caucus leadership to ensure any outstanding issues were addressed, that the legislation had strong bipartisan support and to take the necessary precautions to avoid the bill becoming political ammunition for either side of the aisle.

Outcome: After nine months of detailed and thorough work, Colorado became the fourth state to pass anti-BDS legislation. HB 1284 soared through the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support and robust debate. The Governor enthusiastically signed the bill into law on March 18, 2016. Since its passage, several other states have followed suit and introduced similar legislation.

HB 16-1457: Sales and Use Tax Exemptions for Residential Energy Use

Challenge: In the waning days of the 2016 legislative session, Colorado’s utility companies realized that without a change to existing law, current practice for residential exemptions from sales tax would cease to exist which would result in an extremely negative impact on consumers. With only two and a half weeks left until sine die, proponents of the change had to not only draft a bill to correct the issue, obtain late bill status, and find sponsors but also pass the bill through the House and Senate.

Strategy: The Capstone Group helped develop a coalition including Intermountain Rural Electric Association, Xcel Energy, Colorado Rural Electric Association, Energy Outreach Colorado, among many others, to quickly reach out to legislative leadership and secure support for a late bill. The coalition sat down with the Department of Revenue to draft language to better define that residential apartments with meters, although owned by a commercial entity, were still exempt from state sales tax collection. Bipartisan sponsorship was quickly assembled and within the week, HB 1457 was introduced in the House.

Outcome: A week after introduction, the bill passed the Senate Floor on Third reading unanimously. HB 1457 as approved by the Colorado General Assembly specified that charges for a single meter for residential use in apartments, condominiums, townhouses, mobile homes, or other multi-unit residential facilities of any kind are exempt from state sales tax. Through team work and quick thinking, Colorado’s utilities were able to prevent potential astronomical rate hikes on Colorado’s most vulnerable households.

Promoting Workforce Development in Colorado

Challenge: During the 2014 interim, various candidates, legislators, and diverse industries expressed an interest in policy changes to promote and incentivize entry into the skilled trades to meet the needs of the construction, technology, and energy industries in Colorado. Although industries in the state had an excess of job openings, there was a lack of individuals with the needed skills to fill those positions.

Strategy: With so many ideas and concepts floating around, The Capstone Group along with a key coalition of partners came together to determine the best path forward. An aggressive outreach plan was implemented to review potential ideas, and refine and gain buy in to specific legislative proposals to effectively spur development of needed workforce for key Colorado industries. Democrat and Republican legislators were strategically identified to shepherd the proposals.

Outcome: The result was a ten bill bipartisan package of legislation to address diversified needs of industry in the state. Legislation in the package included HB 1271 Mobile Learning Labs; HB 1170 which requires the Department of Education to include the percentage of high school student graduates who enroll in a postsecondary education program immediately following graduation, as part of key success measures; HB 1276 which creates a skilled worker outreach, recruitment and training program; career pathways that direct the state workforce development council to coordinate with industry to design more career pathways in growing industries; and the establishment for a matching grants program to award funds to organizations that offer skilled worker training programs to assist in their outreach, recruiting, and training efforts. The workforce development package was lauded as one of the most impressive bipartisan efforts of the 2015 legislative session.

HB 1317: Pay for Success

Challenge:Although the state’s economy is rebounding from the great recession, state revenues are not widely available for important prevention programs due in part to Colorado’s complex constitutional budget demands. Prevention programs need to find an innovative approach for financing.

Strategy: A first attempt at creative financing in the 2014 session failed, and following the 2015 elections it was clear that bipartisan buy-in would be critical to the success of any measure. The Capstone Group led the search for strong sponsors, engaging in strategic talks with each of the four legislative caucus leaders on policy, politics, strategy and execution. At the same time, intense negotiations with interested stakeholders on the left and right of the policy spectrum were ongoing.

Outcome: After months of negotiation, the final version of HB 1317 passed the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support. Governor Hickenlooper signed the bill in to law at an early childhood center, pointing to the importance of quality early childhood services as a sound policy investment and signaling the types of opportunities that could be explored under a Pay for Success model.

Telecommunications Modernization Act

Challenge: For more than five years, Colorado's telecommunication industry has pushed for modernization of Colorado's 30 year-old telecom laws. Competing interests clashed over priorities and strategy, and regulators and other stakeholders pressured the legislature to keep the status quo.

Strategy: Stakeholders from the telecommunications industry, the public safety industry, state regulators, and local governments tediously negotiated and vetted language to be placed in five different pieces of legislation introduced in the 2014 legislative session and known collectively as the "Telecommunications Modernization Act.” The Capstone Group team was at the table throughout the process, ensuring that our client’s perspective was consistently represented.

Outcome: After years of tireless work, five separate bills that made up the telecommunication modernization act passed with strong bipartisan support and few no votes. Two highlights from the package were the deregulation of Voice Over Internet Protocol and establishment of a sales tax exemption for private investment in broadband equipment.

HB 1292 and HB 1298: The Future of School Funding in Colorado

Challenge: After voters handedly rejected a tax increase for education at the November ballot, the efforts to the rework the school finance formula the previous year (SB 213) were essentially tossed out as well. The vastly diverse education community had little time between the election and the start of session to develop a targeted funding measure that could gain enough support to pass.

Strategy: A group of bipartisan legislators introduced HB 1298 and HB 1292, which combined had the goal of providing additional and targeted funding for students across the state. The Capstone Group was instrumental in making sure the needs of their clients were heard and met in a competing group of stakeholders and legislator interest. Upon introduction, there was disagreement and disapproval from differing stakeholders, but the end product passed the House and Senate with strong support from the majority of the education community.

Outcome: The passage of HB 1292 and HB 1298 increased total education funding by 2.6%, $5.91 billion for fiscal year 2014-15. This results is a rise in per pupil funding from $6,839 to $7,020. The Capstone Group tirelessly advocated for $18 million additional dollars to help 3rd grade students struggling to read, $3 million for a statewide financial transparency reporting system, $27 million for English Language Learners, and $17 million additional dollars to expand access to quality learning for at-risk preschoolers or kindergarteners. Other provisions in the two measures included $110 million to restore cuts to the negative factor, $3 million additional dollars for the Counselor Corps Grant program, and $11.5 million more for charter school facilities.

The Innovative Motor Vehicle Tax Credit

Challenge: The Innovative Motor Vehicle Tax Credit program was last updated in Colorado during the 2009 legislative session. The tax credit is a vital incentive to encourage adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, yet vehicles like the cutting-edge Chevy Volt didn’t qualify and the program was nearing its sunset date, leaving no consumer incentive on the horizon.

Strategy: The Capstone Group convened a group of diverse stakeholders including the Governor’s Energy Office, alternative fuel vehicles businesses, automobile dealers and manufacturers, consumers, environmental interests, and the energy industry to draft a tax credit formula. The Capstone team took the lead in updating the tax credit so it reflected current technologies, simplified administration of the credit, and made it easier for Coloradans to understand credit eligibility. The credit was also extended until the year 2021.

Outcome: With a $54.9 million fiscal note through 2021, HB13-1247 passed the House and Senate with significant bi-partisan support. Forging ground between environmental, energy and consumer interests, this legislation delivered a significant and long-lasting incentive to the market.

SB 191: Great Teachers & Great Leaders

Challenge: Longstanding practices in K-12 education, such as direct placement, teacher tenure policies, teacher and principal evaluation systems, and the absence of opportunities for educators to experience meaningful growth and access to career ladders have hindered the academic potential of kids in Colorado.

Strategy: Working with the bill sponsors and key stakeholders, The Capstone Group assembled a strong and influential group of advocates at the Capitol, including education/advocacy organizations, the business community, teachers, parents, and community leaders, to develop successful media, legislative, and community outreach strategies that led to bipartisan support for the passage of SB 191.

Outcome: The Capstone Group worked diligently to negotiate and pass SB 191, which links teacher and principal evaluations to student achievement; changes current tenure practices so that a teacher can earn non-probationary status based on demonstrating three consecutive years of effectiveness while non-probationary teachers earning two consecutive years of ineffective rating will return to probationary status; requires that all educator evaluations be based on growth so there is no disadvantage to a teacher who works with at-risk students; ensures that all assessments of student growth are based on multiple measures; ends the practice of direct placement of teachers, and promotes career ladders for teachers. Our team remains actively engaged in ensuring that the integrity and intent of the legislation is upheld.

SB 108: FASTER

Challenge: In 2008, the Governor-appointed Colorado Blue Ribbon Transportation Finance and Implementation Panel reported a multi-billion dollar shortfall in transportation infrastructure funding. Previous efforts to increase funding for a backlog of unsafe bridges and deteriorating roads had been unsuccessful.

Strategy: The Capstone Group worked with the Governor’s administration, Democrat and Republican legislative leadership, the Colorado Contractors Association, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and other business leaders in negotiating and narrowing the issue. We continuously negotiated with the group, strengthening collaboration and amending the bill language to reflect the coalition’s interests. Our team steered an extensive legislative and public relations strategy to support the legislation’s passage.

Outcome: An intense, coordinated effort resulted in a bill generating an estimated $250 million annually for transportation projects introduced in January of 2009 and signed into law in early March of the same year—a remarkably short time frame for such major legislation. Since passage of the FASTER legislation, the Capstone team has actively worked each session to protect the measure from repeal. In 2014, SB 197 threatened to negatively affect the ability of counties and municipalities to pursue public-private partnerships to fund roadways – a permission first established by SB 09-108. SB 197 passed through the legislature very late in the session, and The Capstone Group led a successful effort to make the case to the Governor that the measure should be vetoed. In 2015, another piece of legislation targeting public-private partnerships was introduced. Our team rallied opposition to the measure, which was subsequently killed in its first committee.

Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act

Challenge: Colorado’s rapid growth and development led to conflicting interests and controversy regarding use of water resources and about how state-wide decisions about complex water issues are made. A need was identified for a solution that would provide a collaborative decision-making approach among stakeholders.

Strategy: The Capstone Group worked with the Department of Natural Resources to develop a statewide legislative strategy to bring stakeholders together. We helped secure bipartisan sponsorship for the bill and advanced the complex legislation through every step of the process.

Outcome: Passage of the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, which provides a permanent forum for broad-based water discussions in the state through two new structures: The Interbasin Compact Committee and nine Basin Roundtables based on Colorado’s eight major river basins and the Denver metro area.

Governor Hickenlooper signs HB 15-1317 in to law, May 2015

Governor Hickenlooper signs HB 15-1317 in to law, May 2015