Wrapping Up the 2021 Legislative Session

This year’s unprecedented legislative session is coming to a close. We anticipate legislators will wrap things up sometime next week, and we will continue to update you on priority bills as they advance through the legislative process. There are bills that concern us, as well as legislation we’re proud to see advance for our state.

Among the bills that are troubling are the health care bills we touched on last week, House Bill 1232 “Standardized Health Benefit Plan Colorado Option” and Senate Bill 175 “Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board.” Our main issues remain on both pieces of legislation:

  • House Bill 1232: We continue to be concerned with the key issues of cost-shifting and rate-setting, which have not been addressed by amendments.
  • Senate Bill 175: This bill aims to solve a problem by artificial price-setting, which we do not support for any industry.

We’ve also been working in opposition to two tax bills, House Bill 1311 “Income Tax” and House Bill 1312 “Insurance Premium Property Sales Severance Tax,” both of which would raise taxes for certain businesses and individuals and stand to negatively impact nonprofits and families saving for higher education. It does not make sense for the state to significantly increase state business taxes at the same time they are extending substantial federal aid to those very same businesses. Although amendments were made to each bill, we continue to oppose both:

  • House Bill 1311: While we understand the desire to expand the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, both programs are seeing significant increases through federal stimulus dollars and legislative proposals. This legislation will negatively impact nonprofits, restaurants and college savings and decouple Colorado from federal tax cuts intended to help small businesses.
  • House Bill 1312: We’re concerned with the impact of this bill. Although it provides important tax exemptions for small businesses, it makes Colorado less attractive for economic growth and development, particularly of e-commerce businesses in Colorado.

There have been bright spots during the session, including strides made on transportation. Senate Bill 260 “Sustainability of the Transportation System,” creates new sources of funding for Colorado’s infrastructure. Our members have supported investments in transportation for years and, although this bill is not perfect, it secures more of the funding we so desperately need.

  • Senate Bill 260: This bill has seen many amendments since it was initially introduced that ultimately increased the projected funding to $5.4 billion. This piece of legislation does not solve all of our problems, but we will continue to advocate for more general fund investment in infrastructure.

The transportation bill is anticipated to be signed by the Governor later this month.

Even though the session might be coming to an end, there are still over 200 bills moving through the legislative process, and we continue to monitor these bills and serve as the voice for business at the Capitol.

Workers’ Comp Physician Bill Dies in Committee 

Senate Bill 197 “Workers’ Compensation Physician,” was postponed indefinitely at the request of the bill sponsor last Thursday in the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee. We last updated you on this legislation a couple of weeks ago, following our serious concerns that it would delay care for injured workers and increase costs for small businesses. The bill would have drastically changed the existing workers’ compensation statute, expanding physician choice for employees by allowing individuals to change their physicians at any point. The procedural change would also require injured workers to designate their physician choice via a form before receiving any care. While the bill was guided by good intentions, it introduced needless complexity to the workers’ compensation system with countless negative effects on workers and businesses.

Stimulus Bills Advance

Last Friday, the General Assembly came several steps closer to allocating $800 million of Colorado Recovery Plan stimulus funds. Twelve pieces of legislation advanced, including multiple bills the Chamber has been working to support.

Passing out of the House on second reading were Senate Bills 203 “Funding For Colorado Proud,” 204 “Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant Program Funding,” 229 “Rural Jump-start Zone Grant Program” and 236 “Increase Capacity Early Childhood Care & Education.” Passing out of the House Appropriations Committee and moving onto the House floor was Senate Bill 252 “Community Revitalization Grant Program.” Combined, these bills will transfer $177 million in state stimulus funds to Colorado’s rural areas, child care initiatives and community revitalization programs.

Additional bills that provide targeted support to agriculture and events and promote entrepreneurship and workforce development passed out of their respective committees and into Senate Appropriations. House Bills 1262 “Money Support Agricultural Events Organization,” 1263 “Meeting And Events Incentive Program,” 1264 “Funds Workforce Development Increase Worker Skills,” and 1271 “Department Of Local Affairs Innovative Affordable Housing Strategies,” are all waiting to be reviewed for their fiscal impact and soundness before coming to a vote on the Senate floor.

Legislators have until June 12 to finish distributing Colorado’s excess state income and sales tax revenue. We will continue to monitor these pieces of legislation as they make their way through the legislative process.

Kelly Brough’s Departure

It was announced this week that Kelly Brough, the first female CEO and president of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce in its 153-year history, will step down this fall after nearly 12 years with the organization.

Brough began at the Chamber in 2009 leading the Chamber’s work in putting Coloradans to work in good jobs, knowing that nothing is more powerful at advancing opportunities for families than a really good job. That belief aligned perfectly with the work of the Chamber and its affiliates.

During her tenure, she oversaw major policy advocacy, membership growth and economic equity efforts. Read a note from Kelly on her departure.

Register for State of the State Presented by Xcel Energy on June 15

The 2021 legislative session is one that we won’t forget for a long time. From stimulus funding to public option to transportation, the business community is in the thick of policy discussions. Hear Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ thoughts about what crossed his desk – or didn’t cross his desk – in 2021 and what he sees for the future of our state. We’ll also convene a panel of business leaders to talk about the deep connections between our workforce, economic development and policy changes, and Brough will share the business perspective on this unprecedented session and what it means to Colorado’s economy. Register today.