This Week in Policy

Bills on Discrimination and Employee Immunizations Postponed Indefinitely

Two bills that we opposed were postponed indefinitely following our testimony this week. A version of House Bill 1033 resurfaces nearly every legislative session. Largely targeting the LGBTQ community, the bill would allow an employee to refuse to serve a customer based on the employee’s religious beliefs.

Bills like this are bad for local economies and bad for business. In 2015, when Indiana passed similar legislation, the state lost $60 million in tourism revenue and business leaders left the state en masse.

The Chamber opposes any laws that discriminate or create an intolerant, anti-business environment.

“What we’re saying when we introduce this kind of legislation is we don’t want you, and we don’t need you. That’s absolutely not true. And it’s absolutely not right,” Dorothy Jones, Chamber director of public affairs, submitted via written testimony this week. “That’s not who we are. It’s not how we do business and it’s not the message we want to send to the nation and the world about Colorado.”

Read our testimony. 

The bill was heard in the House Committee on State, Veterans & Military Affairs where it was postponed indefinitely.

Senate Bill 84, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to get immunizations, was assigned to the same committee and also postponed indefinitely.

“This bill would hinder a business’ ability to create a safe and healthy work environment and potentially cause non-compliance when certain standards direct them to require vaccinations for their employees,” Jones testified this week.

The bill is especially dangerous for health care providers who require employees to receive immunizations to protect other employees, patients, families and the general public.

Mayors Come Out Against Arbitration Bill 

A couple weeks ago, we shared with you our opposition to Senate Bill 93, which would prohibit a number of provisions in standard consumer and employment contracts, making binding arbitration clauses in these contracts difficult to enforce. The bill would drive up unnecessary litigation, increase costs for businesses and consumers and undermine the progress the Chamber helped make on construction defects reform.

This week, metro area mayors, including Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet, Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul, Arvada Mayor Marc Williams and Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison, urged the Senate to vote no on the bill, citing the progress made in recent years on construction defects reform. From 2018 to 2019, metro area annual condo starts rose 34%. Additionally, nearly 2,800 condo units are currently under construction and 109 future projects are planned. That totals almost 17,000 units in the pipeline, making home ownership more attainable for thousands more residents.

A group of housing advocates, community leaders and business organizations, including the Chamber, that are part of the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance have joined together to oppose Senate Bill 93.

The bill passed through committee and is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Chamber Supports Bill that Increases Opportunity for Vets

The Chamber is throwing its support behind a bill that allows an employer to give preference to a veteran or veteran’s spouse if they are as qualified as other applicants for employment.

Employers are increasingly recognizing the benefits of hiring veterans. The veteran unemployment rate peaked in 2011 and has been declining steadily ever since, in part thanks to private sector initiatives, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). House Bill 1222 encourages private sector employers to continue those initiatives by clarifying that those programs are not discriminatory or unfair.

At the Chamber, we are committed to supporting Colorado’s 400,000-plus veterans as they move to the workforce, knowing they have the transferable knowledge, leadership skills and work ethic that make them valuable employees. We partner with the University of Colorado Denver on the Boots to Suits program to pair veteran and active military students with business and public service professionals to provide transition and support services so that they may become leaders in our community.

The “Veterans Hiring Preference” bill, sponsored by Rep. Terri Carver (R-Colorado Springs), Sen. Dennis Hisey (R-Fountain) and Sen. Nancy Todd (D-Aurora), was assigned to the House Committee on State, Veterans and Military Affairs.

As always, the Chamber team 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.