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Clock Ticking for 300+ Bills Remaining in Legislature

This week in policy:

With less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, a lot of work remains to be done before legislators leave the Capitol, with some saying this is the most backed-up they’ve ever seen the system. Some major legislation has been introduced in the past week, and there’s still a lot to accomplish in the coming days.

As the first “normal” legislative session since the pandemic, it seems that legislators have been eager to pump out legislation. They’ve introduced 645 bills this session, but, as always, it’s still a slow process. 232 of the bills introduced are still awaiting committee action as of Thursday, and the number of bills that are still going through the legislative process and require action is at 328.

On Sunday, May 1, the General Assembly enters its last ten days of the 2022 session, and, traditionally, only the Appropriations, Finance and State Affairs Committees meet and handle all remaining bills. We are expecting that these committees will be working weekends to try to get through the massive amount of bills remaining.

If a bill is introduced but never completes the journey through its assigned committees and successfully moves through each chambers’ floor, it will die at the session’s expiration date on May 11. With all the remaining bills converging in just three committees, there are significant concerns about legislators’ ability to complete their workload. This means that lawmakers have to decide what bills they’re willing to let die, and which ones they have the time to push through.

While this is a process that can help speed bills along, it can also be problematic to rush a bill through the legislature without taking the proper amount of time to receive stakeholder input and talk through possible outcomes.

With so much to do and so little time, the Chamber is also monitoring what legislation is significantly amended, or if legislators defer authority to rulemaking agencies to sort out the details. These mechanisms, both amending and deferring to rulemaking, can completely change the impact and outcome of a bill, and it’s important to keep an eye on any adjustments that work their way in through the process.

Collective Bargaining and UITF Bills Finally Introduced

There are a variety of issues that the Chamber has been closely monitoring throughout the session, and we have finally seen the introduction of two priority items: collective bargaining and the unemployment insurance trust fund.

This Wednesday, the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (UITF) bill was introduced as Senate Bill 234, and major business organizations rallied in support. Our president and CEO, J. J. Ament, joined other business and community leaders to address the importance of Senate Bill 234 for Colorado’s business community and economy. This bill will pump $600 million of federal funds into the UITF to help pay off the debt incurred during the pandemic. It will use the infusion of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to combine with employer fees and pay off the $1 billion Colorado owes to the U.S. Treasury before November.

Federal ARPA dollars will play a major role in paying back the $1 billion federal loan the state had to take out to cover unemployment insurance checks during the pandemic. Senate Bill 234, if signed into law, will take $600 million in pandemic relief funds to allow the state to pay back part of the federal loan it began tapping in 2020. The bill, however, does not fully pay back the federal loan. The gap between the $600 million and what the state owes is expected to be paid back through a “solvency surcharge” approved in 2020 that goes into effect next year.

In addition to the UITF update, the collective bargaining bill we’ve been hearing so much about was introduced on Monday as Senate Bill 230 Collective Bargaining for Counties. While this was poised to be one of the biggest policy proposals of the 2022 session, with a predicted impact on nearly 250,000 employees, the bill has emerged much smaller than originally planned. The bill grants collective bargaining rights to about 38,000 public-sector employees in Colorado, and it allows people who work for the state’s 64 counties to form unions and enter into collective bargaining agreements with their employers.

Earlier versions of the bill also included cities, schools and colleges, but public opposition has narrowed down the bill significantly. Though narrowed, the Chamber still stands in opposition to the bill. The Chamber has been an enduring advocate for maintaining Colorado’s Labor Peace Act, a longstanding compromise between right to work and union advocates. This bill would drive up costs and administration for local governments, perhaps leading to cuts in services or other staff positions.

Chamber’s State of the State Event Still Accepting Registrants!

The Chamber’s annual State of the State event has just expanded its location to accommodate a flood of registrations.

With this event just weeks away, members of the community have eagerly been registering to hear from keynote speaker Gov. Jared Polis and an array of panelists that will analyze the outcomes of this legislative session and address the state of Colorado’s workforce.

In addition to Gov. Jared Polis’ keynote address, we will also be hearing from Jake Hirsch-Allen, North America workforce development and higher ed system lead for LinkedIn, Meaghan Sullivan, executive director of CareerWise, Dr. Ian Kristic, regional head and industrial/organizational psychologist at the Myers-Briggs Company, and Naeem Isaq, EVP and CFO for Checkr.

Make sure you register for State of the State on May 12 while you can!

 

Join the Chamber’s Advocacy Network!

We work to keep our members informed about impactful policy and create opportunities for them to take a stance. However, in today’s political and policy climate, it is important to show lawmakers the people behind the businesses they are affecting.

In addition to policy email updates, the Chamber has a new action platform that allows the unique voices of the business community to be heard across the state.

Sign-up to join our advocacy network to help us promote investment, job creation and a competitive business climate in the Colorado and Metro Denver region.

 

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

Support

  • House Bill 1377 connects Coloradans experiencing homelessness with services, treatment and the housing support grant program. The grant program provides grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to enable them to invest and improve in efforts to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness. While the Chamber’s interventions in our housing crisis are focused on developing workforce housing, we recognize that Colorado’s housing crisis is a multifaceted issue. We need to develop solutions across the housing continuum and help folks into housing stability benefits our economy.
  • Senate Bill 214 transfers $198.5 million from the General Fund to the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Payment Cash Fund for fiscal year 2022-23 only. PERA obligations constitute one of our largest unfunded liabilities, and it is an essential aspect of good governance that Colorado honors its financial responsibilities. If we continue to allow PERA’s deficit to increase, Colorado’s credit rating and ability to attract companies and jobs will be damaged.
  • Senate Bill 215 creates the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Cash Fund to be used by state and local governments for non-federal matching funds required to receive federal infrastructure dollars through the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act (IIJA). It is essential that Colorado can compete for federal funding opportunities. This bill gives our state and local governments the ability to meet the federal matching fund requirements and be eligible to receive IIJA money.

Oppose

  • House Bill 1325 requires the Division of Insurance in the Department of Regulatory Agencies to create, implement and evaluate standards around the use of valued-based payments in the health insurance system. intervening in the private sector and pushing for unnecessary bureaucratic oversight. We have serious concerns toward ongoing government overreach in telling private companies how to navigate the health care sector.

Testimony

Below is some of the testimony that we delivered this week, but not listed is the testimony that our senior director of government affairs and director of the Colorado Competitive Council, Rachel Beck, is delivering today. She is delivering testimony on Senate Bill 234, which we will include in next week’s policy alert.

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

 

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