The Session is in Full Swing
The session kicked off on Jan. 4 and already, just two weeks in, 86 bills have been introduced in the Senate and 124 bills have been introduced in the House. The General Assembly is fully controlled by the Democratic party this year with 19 of the 35 Senators and 41 of the 65 Representatives representing the party. As always, the Chamber is here to keep you up to speed on legislation that can impact your business. Stay in touch with us by checking our website and sharing with us your concerns as the session progresses.
Legislative Leadership Meets with Chamber Board Members
As in previous sessions, leaders of both the House and Senate met with the Chamber board of directors recently to discuss legislative priorities for the 2019 legislative session. House Speaker KC Becker, Assistant Senate Minority Leader John Cooke, Senate President Leroy Garcia and Assistant House Minority Leader Kevin Van Winkle each outlined their priorities for the session and fielded questions from board members.
Chamber President and CEO Kelly Brough took the opportunity to stress the importance of adequate funding of our P-20 education system as well as transportation following the failure of business-backed Proposition 110. She relayed fears that with its failure, transportation infrastructure upgrades will only happen in certain parts of the state, leaving behind rural or less prosperous areas.
Board members appreciated the opportunity to represent member concerns as we kick off this critical session. Before the start of the session, Kelly Brough sent this letter to each legislator, outlining the Chamber’s priorities and how we work.
Governor Polis’ First State of the State Address
Last Thursday Gov. Jared Polis gave his first State of the State address to the Colorado General Assembly, outlining his key priorities for the session – including education, health care, renewable energy and tax reform. The Chamber was encouraged to see that some of the governor’s priorities line up with the Chamber’s pillars. We know our pillars are the keys to our economic future. In order for our community to succeed, we must have:
- Strong infrastructure that includes a transportation system that efficiently moves goods and people; access to affordable energy; connection to broadband, because it touches every aspect of Coloradans’ lives today; and investment in strategies that ensure we are leading in efficient and effective use of our water resources.
- Affordable and accessible health care and wellness strategies that ensure we have the healthiest and most productive workforce in the country.
- And an effective education system to prepare the workforce of tomorrow, meet the changing needs of employers and connect every Coloradan with opportunities to help them succeed.
Gov. Polis mentioned specifically his goal to fund full-day kindergarten. The Chamber has long supported funding early childhood education because research shows a clear return on investment. However, the Chamber also recognizes the number of challenges Colorado’s P-20 educational pipeline faces, including the reality that college is becoming more unattainable for Colorado families (Colorado funds higher education 48th out of 50 states) and that more than half of our school districts in the state have moved to a four-day school week because many of them can’t afford to run their buses on the fifth day.
Further, members of the Chamber recognize the critical needs of Colorado’s transportation system and that the lack of investment in our roads and bridges is affecting our quality of life and passing significant costs onto every driver and fleet in our state. As with all funding proposals, the Chamber will monitor the Joint Budget Committee’s proposed allocation of resources closely in the next few months and continue to advocate for funding for our educational and transportation systems that provide the greatest return on our investment.
Gov. Polis also promised to focus on addressing the rising costs of health care in our state. Chamber members have continuously identified this issue as one of the most pressing businesses face, and the Chamber has spent the last year working with more than 35 health care organizations to identify industry-wide strategies that address Colorado’s rising health care costs. The summary report of the groups findings will be released soon. Read Polis’ remarks.
New Policy Positions. The Chamber weighed in on 10 bills this week.
The Chamber supports:
- HB19-1008 Include Career and Technical Education in Building Excellent Schools Today Program
- HB19-1010 Freestanding Emergency Departments Licensure
- HB19-1058 Income Tax Benefits for Family Leave
- HB19-1075 Tax Credit Employer-assisted Housing Pilot Program
- SB19-006 Electronic Sales and Use Tax Simplification System
- SB19-051 Increase General Fund Funding for Transportation
- SB19-059 Automatic Enrollment in Advanced Course Grant Program
The Chamber opposes:
- HB19-1096 Concerning the creation of the “Colorado Right to Rest Act”
- HB19-1101 Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation
The Chamber is neutral on: