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This Week in Policy: College Credit for Work

A person completing an internship or apprenticeship or running their own business may be closer to attaining a college degree under House Bill 1002. The Chamber is proud to support the “College Credit for Work Experience” bill, which develops a program to award college credit for work-related experience. That experience could come from paid or unpaid employment, including self-employment, internships and apprenticeships. The legislation falls in line with our long-time efforts to strengthen Colorado’s workforce by increasing the number of qualified workers while removing the barriers that prevent some people from earning degrees.

People with less education than an associate’s degree are much more likely to be out of work in Colorado, according to research from The Brookings Institution compiled for Prosper CO, a Chamber family-led initiative that is seeking to identify the disparities that are preventing all Coloradans from benefiting from our strong economy. Of people who are out of work, 69% haven’t earned a credential or degree.

“This bill gives those working adults and non-traditional learners opportunities to advance toward a degree or credential, which increases the likelihood they will take that plunge – resulting in a more skilled workforce and more students enrolling in our colleges and universities,” Lauren Masias, Colorado Competitive Council (C3) director, testified on behalf of C3 and the Chamber before the House Education Committee on Tuesday. “We are very supportive of work-based learning and competency-based programs for students, and this bill increases the value of their work experience and helps build a more qualified worker pipeline.”

The bill passed through the Education Committee unanimously and is headed to the Appropriations Committee for consideration.

READ THE BILL

Jump-Starting Our Rural Communities
House Bill 1003 extends a promising program for rural communities that the Chamber supported when it was originally developed. The bill, “Rural Jump-Start Zone Act Modifications,” will extend the Rural Jump-Start program for an additional five years, enabling approved businesses that choose to locate in a rural jump-start zone to access tax-friendly benefits including income, sales and use and property tax credits. It also restricts the approval of a new business that directly competes with a similar business in the zone and adds economic development organizations to the list of entities to which businesses can apply.

The extension of the program and the changes proposed in the bill “better enable economic development organizations and communities to attract, expand and retain primary employment opportunities to rural locations across Colorado,” Sam Bailey, vice president of economic development for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Metro Denver EDC and the Chamber this week. Masias also testified on behalf of C3.

The bill unanimously passed through the House Finance Committee on Monday.

READ OUR TESTIMONY

Fighting Two Bills that Set the Housing Market Back
Senate Bills 93 and 138 threaten to impede progress we made in recent years to increase workforce housing and protect developers from costly construction defects lawsuits, which raise the cost of housing and deter developers from building condominiums.

Senate Bill 93, “Consumer and Employee Dispute Resolution Fairness,” prohibits a number of provisions in standard consumer and employment contracts, making binding arbitration clauses in these contracts difficult to enforce. In 2017, we worked to pass House Bill 1279 and defended the Vallagio decision, which has resulted in the quintupling of condo construction since that time. Vallagio affirmed the right of a developer to require that construction litigation disputes go to arbitration. This brought a sense of predictability in the insurance market regarding the timing and process for dispute resolution.

Senate Bill 93 makes binding arbitration clauses in consumer and employment contracts very difficult to enforce, which could drive up unnecessary litigation, increase costs for businesses and consumers and undermine the progress the Chamber helped make on construction defects reform. It also leads to a slew of other unintended consequences for consumers, including forcing them to pursue disputes through costly lawsuits and creating a backlog in the courts. The bill passed through committee with a 3-2 vote and is headed to the Senate floor.

Likewise, Senate Bill 138, “Consumer Protection Construction Defect Time Period,” increases the statute of limitations for actions based on construction defects from six years to 10 years. This move could drive up building costs by increasing litigation, making for-sale housing, a critical component in our housing market, more expensive. The bill is headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

The Chamber opposes both bills and will continue to track them to advocate on behalf of the business community.

Read more coverage in the Denver Business Journal:

Considering a Bill’s Business Impact
Senate Bill 133, “Business Fiscal Impact Statements,” is refreshing legislation for the business community in what is already a challenging session. The bill would increase legislators’ understanding of the impacts of legislation on Colorado’s businesses, helping them to make more informed decisions when voting on and sponsoring legislation.

Under the bill, legislative council staff are required to prepare business fiscal impact notes for future legislation that include costs related to compliance, impacts on hiring or job losses, savings or cost reductions and other fiscal impacts. It also designates a five-day period during which Colorado businesses can submit comments on the impacts of a legislative bill, which would be summarized and included in the note.

We support efforts to increase awareness of how public policy affects the business community and are grateful to bill sponsors Sen. Rob Woodward (R-Loveland), Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada) and Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs) for shining a light on this.

As always, Chamber staff will continue working on your behalf, analyzing and weighing in on legislation that can impact your business. We list all our bill positions online. Stay in touch with us by checking our website and sharing with us your concerns as the session progresses.

FOLLOW THE SESSION WITH US

Jennifer Kostka Beck is the communications and marketing director for the Chamber.