Lawmakers, Focus on Getting Coloradans Back to Work

Last week, J. J. Ament, CEO of our Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, and I wrote an op-ed that appeared in Colorado Politics. As legislators reconvene for the 2021 session today, we want to share our message with you. You can read the op-ed below or on the Colorado Politics website

We’ll make this brief. We know the challenges facing us today aren’t simple, but our message to lawmakers is.

This legislative session, focus on getting Coloradans back to work. That’s it.

Colorado is still in a state of emergency, being governed through executive orders in many cases. Frankly, the upcoming session should reflect that with a singular focus on how to get all of us out of this emergency. To put it simply, if legislation doesn’t get vaccines into arms, kids into schools or Coloradans back to work and back on their feet, legislators should hold it until next session.

For almost a year now, lawmakers, like many of us, have been reflecting on what role they play in recovery. It’s obviously a big one that hinges as much on what doesn’t pass as what does. Before bills are introduced or votes are cast, legislators should ask themselves this: is this legislation making it easier or harder for my neighbor to get a job (and the pay and benefits that come with it)? Is this making it more or less expensive for us to go back to work? Is this helping businesses safely reopen and connecting Coloradans with those much-needed jobs? Is this bringing us closer to the end of the pandemic?

No government program can supplant the value of a job. That’s it. We understand and support efforts to assist Coloradans during these devastating times. But, 100% of a job is most certainly better than piecing together government assistance to make ends meet. We all know this, but we can’t make it happen until the current crisis is over and we can safely reopen our economy.

So, let’s focus on that together. While many worthy policy conversations are happening, we’d argue this is the time to table those conversations and focus on the emergency in which we still find ourselves. Legislators can lay the foundation for future policy, while still viewing this session through the reality we’re in: a state of emergency. If it doesn’t get a shot in an arm, return kids to learning, get Coloradans back to work or provide short-term emergency assistance, then now simply isn’t the time.

Employers and Employees Looking for Answers to Unemployment Fraud

Like many of you, we’ve kept a close eye on the unemployment numbers over the last year, knowing that there are men, women and families behind those numbers who want nothing more than to get back to work. But we’ve learned over the last few months that as hard as the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) worked, the department was constantly forced to play defense against thieves filing fraudulent claims. Those thieves made it even harder for Coloradans who truly lost their jobs to access the benefits they needed.

Employers and employees have suffered, too. On Wednesday, we’re pulling together the experts from CDLE and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office for a webinar to share what you can do to protect yourselves and your employees from fraud and what to do if you are a victim. They’ll also answer a question we’ve had and heard at the Chamber: What will happen to your unemployment insurance premiums? Register today.

Stay well.

Kelly Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber.