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Chamber Opposes Legislative Overreach on Workplace Standards

Three bills are working their way through the Colorado legislature that impact how employers can run their workplace’s COVID-19 immunization standards.

House Bill 1100 prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee or an applicant based on their COVID-19 immunization status. It also allows an aggrieved employee or applicant to file a civil action lawsuit if the employer acted with malice or has repeatedly violated the law. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Kim Ransom (R-Douglas) and Rep. Shane Sandridge (R-El Paso).

House Bill 1144 requires an employer or a state agency that imposes a COVID-19 vaccine or testing requirement to allow a person subject to the requirement to instead provide documentation demonstrating that the person has naturally acquired immunity to the disease. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Mark Baisley (R-Douglas, Teller).

House Bill 1201 allows individuals who are required to receive an immunization to claim an exemption from the requirement if the immunization has not been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has only received emergency use authorization, the manufacturer is not liable for injury or death caused by the immunization, or pivotal clinical trial the FDA relied on for approval did not evaluate the immunization’s safety for at least one year after administration. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Tonya Van Beber (R-Weld) and Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta, Mesa)

The Chamber opposes all three of these bills on the grounds that they infringe upon a business’ right to implement and enforce health and safety standards for their own workplace.

We believe that businesses know the best way to protect their employees, property and business model. These bills create new mandates on business, increase the risk of litigation and undermine our ability to restore Colorado’s economy.

We trust that each individual business takes seriously their responsibility to keep their employees and patrons safe as we find a new normal amid an evolving pandemic.

The Chamber’s new vice president of government affairs, Adam Burg, delivered testimony in opposition of these three bills this week. Read the testimony and more on our current legislation page.

Bill Mandating Workplace Commute Restrictions Dies in Committee

This session, the Chamber took a stance in opposition to House Bill 1138, which would have created an income tax credit for employers that develop clean commuting plans, required the Department of Transportation to create an annual commuter survey for employers to determine how their employees commute to and from work and enforced clean commute mandates for employees with 100 or more employees.

After significant opposition from the business community, bill sponsor Rep. Matt Gray (D-Broomfield) brought forward amendments that removed both the tax credit and the mandate, removing all the incentives and deterrents fundamental to the legislation’s goal. Despite the watering-down, the House Finance Committee voted 9-1 to postpone the bill indefinitely.

We believe that the clean commute mandates proposed in House Bill 1138 would have been a burden on employers at a time when many are struggling with increased costs due to inflation, supply chain problems and workforce shortages. Though the Chamber opposed House Bill 1138, we support an incentives-based approach to encourage employers and employees to take other modes of transportation, such as the strategies outlined in House Bill 1026.

The Chamber delivered testimony both in support of House Bill 1026 and in opposition to House Bill 1138.

Here are the bills we took a stance on this week.

Support 

  • Senate Bill 99 streamlines the automatic record sealing process, making it an unfair employment practice to discharge or refuse to promote a person based solely on the contents of a sealed criminal record and makes it an unfair housing practice to refuse to show, sell, transfer, rent or lease housing based on the contents of a sealed criminal record. This bill will help address the labor shortage by removing a barrier to employment, education and housing for residents with qualifying criminal records.

Oppose 

  • House Bill 1244 creates a new program to regulate a subset of air pollutants, referred to as “toxic air contaminants”, which are defined as hazardous air pollutants, covered air toxics and all other air pollutants that the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) designates by rule as a toxic air contaminant based on its adverse health effects. We have concerns that this bill continues to expand the authority of an unelected group by giving the AQCC the ability to regulate air pollutants that have not been identified as problematic by the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Senate Bill 131 implements protective measures for both pollinators and individuals by restricting the use of pesticides on school grounds, child care facilities and children’s camps. While we agree with the goal to protect pollinators and individuals, there are certain sectors that must have access to pesticides to safely conduct business. This bill creates a mechanism that would transfer the regulation of pesticides to the municipal level, which would impede businesses that operate across the state.
  • Senate Bill 135 exempts the state of Colorado from observing daylight savings time and adopts the use of United States Mountain Standard Time (MST) year-round. This bill would make Colorado a national outlier and have negative consequences for airline and tourism industries as well as businesses that work across state lines.
  • Senate Bill 136 extends the powers of citizens’ initiatives and referendums down to the electors of special districts. It also creates new disclosure requirements for special district board meetings and requires boards to terminate developer-affiliated positions should a resident submit a self-nomination form. We are concerned that this bill would give residents preferential treatment to sit on the board of special districts at the expense of businesses and developers, who are the primary advocates for new housing in the region.
Testimony

Read our justifications for these positions and more on our current legislation page.

Have questions or concerns about policy? Contact our Government Affairs team.