Your Influence: Members Share Their Voice in Policy Committee

Advocacy on policy issues is a critical component of our work on behalf of our members at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the greater business community. Our members who have a seat on our committees get a behind-the-scenes look at what’s impacting the metro area’s business community through the lens of our three pillars: education and workforce, health and wellness and infrastructure.

In June, they learned about critical issues, from our state budget to a ballot question on a community’s growth – and met the people at the forefront of these issues.

A Bipartisan Approach to the State Budget

During the legislative session, the business community witnessed and weighed in on several budget priorities, ranging from full-day kindergarten to census funding.

Joint Budget Committee (JBC) member, Sen. Bob  Rankin (R-Carbondale), and House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Shannon Bird (D-Westminster) walked the 100-person audience through the budget process and how the legislature crafts Colorado’s $30.5 billion budget.

The budget process in Colorado requires bipartisanship – every line item introduced must be approved unanimously by the committee, currently made up of four Democrats and two Republicans. By March, the JBC presents their recommendations to the General Assembly in the Long Bill. From there, amendments begin but again, all changes will go back to the JBC for final approval. Once the Long Bill makes it out of the House and Senate, it is sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

Although the JBC determines the size of the pot of money and which priorities will ultimately be funded, the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate assign exactly where it will be spent. The most important question, says Rep. Bird: “Is this aligned with how voters want us to spend their tax dollars?”

Sen. Rankin expressed his gratitude for being in a state that truly represents its people’s best interest through this unique bipartisan budget process where compromise is critical to ensure unanimous approval of JBC members.

“In Colorado we are given the authority to let the legislature write the budget instead of the executive. What goes on in other states is pretty chaotic, but I think our system works,” Sen. Rankin said.

Lakewood United Urges No Vote on Question 200

Today, Lakewood residents will go to the polls to vote on Question 200, a proposal that will limit the city’s residential growth by putting a 1 percent cap on the building of all residential units. Josh Penry of Lakewood United and Katie Kruger of the Denver Metro Commercial Association of Realtors shared expectations and impacts of this ballot question.

Penry noted that policies like this increase property taxes, which can make it challenging for senior citizens, working families and teachers to continue to call Lakewood their home.

“We should all be worried about this issue,” Penry said. “If it does pass we will probably see it in other communities.”

If such a cap were in place, only 700 new units would be allowed to be built at a time when it’s anticipated Lakewood will add 6,000 new jobs – making it challenging for those who work in the city to make their home there as well. In addition to making it more challenging for people who want to call Lakewood home, it could contribute to further congestion as more people have to live outside Lakewood and commute in.

“They are already behind in housing [in Lakewood]. Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson add one housing unit for every one job, and in Lakewood they are flipped,” Kruger said. “This is the most important: during that same 10-year period, Lakewood moved from employing 5,200 to 12,900 who commute into the city for work.”

Interested in getting the latest updates on policy that can impact your business? Join or upgrade your membership to a committee.

Katie Doyen is the public affairs coordinator for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.