More Work to Do This Session
Although Friday marks the midpoint of the session, we’re still waiting on several bills pertinent to the business community to be introduced, including the state-run family and medical leave insurance program, oil and gas regulations and a potential referred measure to de-Bruce state revenue. As of this week, the Chamber has taken positions on 28 bills and we’re engaged in conversations on many more, including legislation addressing some of the costs of health care.
As always, Chamber staff will continue working on your behalf, analyzing and weighing in on legislation that can impact your business. Stay up-to-date on our latest bill positions by checking our website.
Minimum Wage Bill Introduced
Legislators introduced House Bill 1210 on Monday, which would allow towns, cities and counties to set the minimum wage for their jurisdiction. We have a history of supporting the principle that wages are best established based on a competitive market. We know that the best employers set their pay and benefit strategy in a manner that helps them compete for the incredible talent we have in Colorado. In the second quarter of 2018, hourly earnings growth among small business workers in Denver rose to $29.43, a 3.27 percent increase compared to the previous year. We see that wages are responding to the market by growing; and employees and employers are benefiting. Given this, we’re opposed to HB 1210.
Further, in Colorado, many businesses operate across multiple cities and counties. Allowing wages to vary by municipality could create unnecessary complication and increased administrative burden for businesses. And, although an urban city might be able to sustain a higher minimum wage, it’s likely that a rural city would not. This would incentivize workers to migrate from a rural area, further fueling labor shortages.
At the Chamber we also focus our efforts on strategies that elevate wages naturally. We provide workforce training, resources to help small businesses grow and research to ensure more Coloradans benefit from our region’s economic success. We think it is important that we work and identify how we might proceed together with a more comprehensive and broadly shared community strategy driven by data and stakeholder engagement.
Testifying for Amendments on Equal Pay
Last week the Chamber, along with other business groups in the community, testified against Senate Bill 85 as introduced. Equal pay for equal work is good business and something the Chamber supports. Our members are already striving to ensure that they’re paying employees of the same qualifications equally to ensure that they stay competitive in a market that has very low unemployment. That said, we believe Colorado’s current process, addressing disputes via the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, is a better and less costly resource for resolving complaints. The private right of action outlined in this legislation will result in an increase in unnecessary litigation, increasing costs.
Dorothy Jones, the Chamber’s director of public affairs, testified on the bill, thanking the sponsors, Sen. Jessie Danielson (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), as well Senator Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) for their willingness to work with stakeholders. The committee adopted eight amendments to the legislation, addressing many concerns from the business community, although not entirely removing the private right of action. The Chamber will continue to work with these legislators on amendments on behalf of members.