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The End of the 2021 Legislative Session

Workers’ Rights Act Legislation Meets Its End

A bill we opposed and have been updating you on most of this session, Senate Bill 176, “Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights Act,” was postponed indefinitely in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday.

While we agree that no employee should endure discrimination or harassment, we had concerns about a number of provisions in the bill. This legislation would have completely overhauled how workplace harassment claims are handled in our state, making numerous changes including:

  • Getting rid of the “severe and pervasive” standard to prove workplace harassment
  • Extending the timeline for when harassment or discrimination claims could be filed
  • Allowing claims to be filed directly in civil court
  • Requiring employers to provide training
  • Adding protections for people who are caregivers

We worked closely with bill sponsors Sen. Faith Winter (D-Thornton), Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), Rep. Susan Lontine (D-Denver) and Rep. Matt Gray (D-Broomfield) on amendments to ensure the legislation would not have unintentionally created a backdoor for increased litigation. Any changes to the severe and pervasive standard would establish a new legal precedent in court. Paired with a wider definition of employee, this bill would have created an unpredictable legal environment.

Ultimately, the bill was killed in committee in a 9-2 vote, with multiple Democratic members joining all four Republicans on the committee to vote against it due to concerns about the legal policies and the number of issues the bill was trying to address at one time.

State Legislation Leads to Federal Tax Break for Small Businesses

House Bill 1327, a bill championed by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, passed through the legislative process in what felt like record time. This legislation allows pass-through business entities to pay state income taxes at the entity level rather than the individual level so that they may recognize savings on their federal returns. The bill was introduced in the House on June 1 and passed Senate Third Reading on June 8.

The 2017 federal “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” placed a cap of $10,000 on the amount of state and local taxes that individuals could deduct on their federal taxes. This limitation did not apply to C corporations. Consequently, businesses organized as pass-through entities, like S corporations and partnerships, pay increased taxes on business profits compared to C corporations. This is because pass-through entities pay taxes on business profits at the individual (partner or shareholder) level.

This bill restores the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction for pass-through businesses, something many states across the country have already done. We’re happy to see this bill pass and offer potential relief to many of our small and mid-sized companies.

The 2021 Session Has Ended!

The 2021 legislative session is officially sine die. A legislative body adjourns sine die when it adjourns without appointing a day on which to assemble again and it marks the end of this year’s legislative session.

It has been a tumultuous year for the business community. In the 116-day session this year, we took positions on 73 pieces of legislation and discussed many more. We submitted or delivered nearly 40 pieces of testimony. Although we faced many setbacks, we had some considerable wins, too.

Join us for the 2021 State of the State presented by Xcel Energy to hear how Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Chamber President and CEO Kelly Brough think the session went. We’ll also convene a panel of business leaders to talk about the deep connections between our workforce, economic development and policy changes.