fbpx

2019 Legislative Session

Each session we take positions on current bills that stand to impact the business community and our economy, focusing on education and workforce, health and wellness and infrastructure. Guided by those focus areas, data and member feedback, our policy decisions are guided by a committee of members and our board of directors.

Have a question about a position we’ve taken? Call us at 303-620-8088 or email us at publicpolicy@denverchamber.org.

  • Position Key
  • Support
  • Oppose
  • Neutral
  • STATUS Key
  • Passed
  • Failed
  • Vetoed
  • Active
Bill # Title Summary Position Justification Materials Pillars Status
HB19-1001 Hospital Transparency Measures To Analyze Efficacy

This bill requires the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and the Colorado Health Care Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise Board to develop and prepare an annual report detailing uncompensated hospital costs and expenses, using publicly available data whenever possible. Psychiatric hospitals, long-term care facilities and certain critical access hospitals are exempted.

Over the past year the Chamber has worked with more than 30 health care organizations to identify industry-wide strategies to address Colorado’s rising health care costs. The group developed robust transparency and disclosure recommendations, understanding that they are key to analysis and consumer education. This bill will provide more transparency in health care, which can help consumers better navigate their care as well as other components of the industry better understand the factors contributing to health care costs.

HB19-1008 Include Career and Technical Education in Building Excellent Schools Today Program

This bill amends the Building Excellent School Today (BEST) program, established in 2008, and allows the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board to provide grants to support career and technical education-based construction.

It is important that we invest in our career and technical education system statewide and equip our students with the skills that will prepare them for the workplace of the future. Colorado employers in every industry face challenges finding skilled, talented workers, and that impacts their own productivity and our economy. This bill will enhance opportunities across Colorado for students following a technical career path and assist in alleviating an across-the-board labor market shortage.

HB19-1010 Freestanding Emergency Departments Licensure

This bill creates a new license, referred to as a “freestanding emergency department license,” for a health facility that offers emergency care and is located more than 250 yards from a hospital, whether or not it’s affiliated with the hospital. Community clinics are exempted.

This bill ensures that free-standing emergency departments align with other specialties in that they have their own specific license. It allows better tracking of data related to free standing emergency departments, which is helpful for consumers and other components of the healthcare industry.

HB19-1025 Limits On Job Applicant Criminal History Inquiries

This bill prohibits an employer from advertising that a position is not open to a person with a criminal history and prohibits them from asking applicants about their criminal history on an initial application. This bill does not apply to positions where the law prohibits employees with a certain criminal history and does not create a protected class for people with criminal histories.

We strongly oppose mandates that dictate how our members do business, because we believe that businesses should be allowed to determine a hiring policy that works best for them. However, we recognize the work the bill sponsors have done to address serious concerns in prior versions of the bill, the significant stakeholder effort and willingness to help with the additional minor technical concerns that remain in this version.

HB19-1058 Income Tax Benefits For Family Leave

This bill creates various income tax credits for employers and employees in an effort to incent businesses to offer family and medical leave benefits to their workers. An employer and employee receive a state income tax deduction for any amount up to $5,000 they contribute to an employee’s leave savings account. An employer also receives an income tax credit if they pay an employee for leave that is between six and 12 weeks for a family or medical leave. For employers with fewer than 50 employees the credit is equal to 50 percent of the amount paid, and for employers with 50 or more employees the credit is equal to 25 percent of the amount paid.

This bill encourages businesses to create and invest in a family and medical leave insurance program for their employees and incentivizes employees to contribute to their own accounts. It also rewards companies that are already providing such programs to their employees. The Chamber supports the flexibility this legislation gives to businesses while also encouraging them to provide a program of this kind to their employees.

HB19-1075 Tax Credit Employer-assisted Housing Pilot Program

This bill creates an income tax credit pilot program to promote employer-assisted housing projects in rural areas.

This bill encourages local workforce housing in rural Colorado, which supports the growth of our state’s economy by providing diverse housing options for our workers throughout Colorado communities.

HB19-1096 Colorado Right To Rest

The bill creates a protected class in Colorado called persons experiencing homelessness and explicitly outlines their right to use and move freely in public spaces without discrimination, to rest in public spaces without discrimination, to eat or accept food in any public space where food is not prohibited, to occupy a legally parked vehicle and to have a reasonable expectation of privacy of one's property.

While the needs of those experiencing homelessness must be addressed, this proposal does not impact the underlying issues causing homelessness and comes significantly short in providing the resources necessary to help communities struggling with homelessness. By creating a right to legal action, the bill will subject the state and local governments to frivolous and costly lawsuits. As a community, we can and should do better when addressing the needs of our homeless population.

HB19-1098 Deeds To Convey Real Property

This bill authorizes a title company to prepare a deed using one of the forms of statutory deed.

This bill makes necessary technical changes to statutory law regarding deed preparation, which will reduce confusion, streamline the property sale process and clarify what entity is responsible for tracking critical information about this business process.

HB19-1101 Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation

This bill prohibits employers from requiring that an employee become, remain or pay dues, fees or other assessments to a labor organization and creates civil and criminal penalties for violations. It would repeal the Labor Peace Act in favor of “Right to Work.”

The Chamber has consistently opposed any efforts to weaken the existing Labor Peace Act because its statutory framework has provided a balance to ensure a healthy relationship between business and labor in this state. Colorado’s Labor Peace Act is a unique legal middle ground between right-to-work and union states that has contributed to Colorado’s economic well-being.

HB19-1140 Live And Let Live Act

This bill would allow businesses to decline service to people based on their religious beliefs.

The Chamber is committed to helping Colorado companies grow and thrive, attract new businesses and build a strong and healthy workforce. We advocate for policy that makes Colorado the best place to do business and oppose legislation that hinders our ability to do so. If passed, this bill would set Colorado back over several decades and allow for rampant discrimination, sending a message that conflicts with the inclusive and collaborative culture the business community has worked hard to build and maintain here in Colorado and putting our ability to attract top companies and workers at risk.

HB19-1154 Patient Choice Of Pharmacy

This bill prohibits a health plan from controlling costs by choosing which pharmacies to include in its networks.

Chamber members have consistently identified rising cost as the biggest concern regarding health care. This bill undermines the ability of health plans to negotiate with pharmacies to provide patients with lower-cost options thereby making it more costly for businesses to afford these benefits. Although access is a critical component in any health care conversation, the benefits of increasing access in this case do not outweigh the significant impact to cost and quality this legislation stands to generate.

HB19-1163 Reduce Regulatory Burden Rules On Businesses

The bill redefines a "small business" as a business that employs 100 or fewer employees for the purpose of analyzing the impact of a proposed rule and helping to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses. This bill also requires agencies to expand their outreach to small businesses so that they may participate in rule-making hearings.

This bill helps alleviate the burden that new rules and regulations can impose on small businesses by providing a more precise analysis on the impact to small businesses before rules are put in place. The Chamber supports this increased outreach and consideration because small businesses typically don’t have the capacity to employ full-time regulatory staff members and therefore addressing rule changes can be especially challenging for them.

HB19-1187 Increase Student Aid Application Completion Rates

This bill appropriates $250,000 from the general fund to the State Board of Education to distribute to recipients of the school counselor grant program to be used to help educate and assist families with the completion and submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or applications for state student aid.

Colorado ranks 47th in the nation for FAFSA completion, with only 50 percent of high school seniors completing it. A major barrier to attaining post-secondary education for individuals is financial. Investing resources in helping students complete the FAFSA could increase access to higher education opportunities.

HB19-1190 Repeal Of Mill Levy Equalization Fund

This bill repeals the portion of HB17-1375 that created the mill levy equalization fund. The fund consists of money the general assembly may appropriate for charter schools.

The Chamber was supportive of HB17-1375 because the bill remedied key funding disparities that charter public schools face. Tax revenue collected from all taxpayers in a school district should benefit all public-school students in that district and be distributed equally. It is important that all students have the opportunity for a quality education and are prepared to fill current and future jobs. Equitable funding is imperative to providing a quality education.

HB19-1199 Colorado Clean Pass Act

This bill will allow certain owners of eligible plug-in electronic motor vehicles to pay a onetime per year access fee at the time of registering their vehicle that will allow them to access tolled express lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes for free or at a reduced cost and without the required number of passengers.

We have underfunded transportation for decades, and it’s costing us $7.1 billion each year because of traffic congestion delays, damage to vehicles, accidents and lost gas efficiency – and those costs will only continue to increase if we don’t fund transportation appropriately. This bill will further reduce funding for transportation and encourage single occupant driving by exempting certain vehicles from paying toll lane fees regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle. This will only exacerbate the underfunding and congestion problems we face rather than helping to fix them.

HB19-1207 Winter Conditions And Traction Control Requirements

Currently a person is required to use certain traction control equipment, such as chains or snow-rated tires, when the Colorado Department of Transportation restricts road use due to a winter storm. The bill broadens this law to require the traction equipment to be carried on I-70 between Dotsero and Morrison during icy or snow-packed conditions, before CDOT issues winter storm restrictions. It also updates the law to allow for current technology and traction options.

This proposal addresses one of the primary causes of accidents and congestion on the I-70 mountain corridor, especially during peak periods in winter conditions. Traffic congestion delays, damage to vehicles, accidents and the related lost gas efficiency add to the $7.1 billion Colorado citizens pay each year in transportation related costs – and those costs will only continue to increase. This proposal can reduce accidents and congestion on the I-70 mountain corridor and assist in mitigating the increase in transportation cost along the I-70 corridor.

HB19-1210 Local Government Minimum Wage

This bill would repeal a prohibition that prevents towns, cities and counties from setting a minimum wage for their jurisdiction, higher than the state and federal minimum wage.

In 2016, Colorado voters adopted an amendment to our state constitution that sets one minimum wage for the entire state. This legislative proposal aims to overturn the will of most Colorado voters and create an unpredictable business environment harmful to our economy. In Colorado, many businesses operate across multiple cities and counties. Allowing wages to vary by municipality would create unnecessary complication and increased administrative burden for businesses.

HB19-1228 Increase Tax Credit Allocation Affordable Housing

This bill increases the allocation for the affordable housing tax credit from $5 million annually to $10 million annually for the years 2020 to 2024.

Since the original bill was signed into law in January 2015, the state has seen the impact of the low-income housing tax credit. This program has leveraged over $465 million in private sector investment into Colorado and has helped support the development and preservation of over 4,000 affordable apartments. The Chamber will continue to support solutions that incentivize the building of attainable housing for our workforce so that Colorado remains an attractive place to do business and live.

HB19-1240 Sales And Use Tax Administration

This bill codifies the Department of Revenue’s Destination Sourcing Rule for state sales tax collection but specifies that a small retailer may source its sales to the business location until a geographic information system, like the one outlined in SB19-006, is online and available for the retailer. It also requires marketplace facilitators, like Amazon and Etsy, to collect and remit sales tax on behalf of their sellers.

Colorado is among the states with the most complicated sales-and-use tax systems in the country, with over 550 jurisdictions that levy sales taxes. We are supportive of and encourage the continuation of efforts to simplify and develop a sales tax system that serves the interests of Colorado businesses, our local governments and special districts while moving our economy forward.

SB19-006 Electronic Sales And Use Tax Simplification System

This bill would require the Department of Revenue to create a centralized remittance system to collect sales and use taxes electronically from remote sellers. Home rule cities and municipalities, those that choose to impose and administer local taxes, could elect to voluntarily participate in the centralized system.

Colorado has one of the more complicated sales and use tax systems in the country. This bill would allow the state to create the framework for a system to ease tax collection for cities and municipalities at point of sale and begin the conversation about how to simplify and create a sales tax system that serves the interests of Colorado businesses and our local governments while moving our economy forward.

SB19-042 National Popular Vote

This bill joins Colorado with another 11 States into an interstate compact which would go into effect when the number of participating states reaches 274 Electoral Votes. Once that criteria is met, then the states in the compact pledge the balance of their Electoral College votes to Presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.

This bill diminishes the vote of Coloradans when our election results differ from the national popular vote. The business community has long advocated voter engagement and this is contrary to that effort. Further, Colorado voters defeated the last attempt to alter how we award electoral college votes in 2004 by a sizeable margin. Finally, for those who want a change to the electoral college, that change should be made to our Constitution.

SB19-051 Increase General Fund Funding For Transportation

Current law enacted by SB18-001 dedicated a total of $150 million from the general fund to fund transportation as the following: $105 million to the state highway fund, $22.5 million to the highway users tax fund and $22.5 million to the multimodal transportation options fund. This bill increases the total amount to $340 million for the transfer, increasing the amount to the state highway fund to $226.5 million, the amount to the highway users tax fund to $51 million and keeping the amount to the multimodal transportation options fund the same.

We have underfunded transportation for decades, and it’s costing us $7.1 billion each year because of traffic congestion delays, damage to vehicles, accidents and lost gas efficiency – and those costs will only continue to increase if this issue goes unaddressed. The Chamber is supportive of proposals that will provide ongoing investments in our transportation system. Without significant investment in our state’s infrastructure, our economy and ability to attract workers will suffer.

SB19-059 Automatic Enrollment In Advanced Course Grant Program

This bill would create a grant program to provide funding for school districts that automatically enroll students who are in the ninth grade or higher in an advanced course in a subject related to one in which the student demonstrated proficient on the prior year’s statewide assessment.

The Chamber is supportive of advanced courses, as research shows that access to college-level classes while in high school prepares students for post-secondary success – a critical component of future workforce development. This bill helps ensure that more students access advanced courses.

SB19-073 Statewide System Of Advance Medical Directives

This bill requires the Department of Public Health and Environment to create and administer a statewide electronic system that allows qualified individuals to upload and access advance medical directives.

End-of-life care is one of most costly parts of the health care system. This bill streamlines this process by creating a single electronic repository, allowing health care providers to more easily locate advance medical directives for treatment. This will honor and respect a patient’s wishes and, in some cases, may help contain costs by allowing physicians to more quickly access this important information. Best practices should be considered when implementing this legislation to ensure ease of use and ability to update, should a patient change their mind on their directive.

SB19-078 Open Internet Customer Protections In Colorado

This bill would disqualify internet service providers from receiving high-cost support mechanism funds or other money to finance broadband development if the provider engages in practices that interfere with the open internet.

While the Chamber does not oppose the notion of net neutrality, we believe it is a matter of federal jurisdiction. This bill, in its current form, is an overly burdensome regulation that expands the current Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regulatory powers and allows the state to issue preferential contracts, thereby creating an unfair playing field for Colorado internet service providers.

SB19-085 Equal Pay For Equal Work Act

This bill allows for litigation to be brought against an employer if their employee believes they experienced wage discrimination and removes the dispute process from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The burden is placed solely on the employer to disprove their allegation. The employer is also prohibited from simply promoting an employee but must announce the advancement opportunity to all employees. [oppose unless amended]

Equal pay for equal work is good business and something the Chamber is supportive of. That said, we believe Colorado’s current process, addressing disputes via the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, is a successful and less costly resource for complaint resolution. Additionally, requiring that the employer post promotion opportunities could lead to less advancement within an organization, harming economic opportunity for employees.

SB19-101 Prerequisites For Construction Of Managed Lanes

This bill would prohibit the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) from constructing or designating a managed (toll/high occupancy vehicle) lane on a state highway unless they take several steps to prove that a managed lane is the best option for the project. CDOT must publish findings that show the alternatives to the managed lanes are unfeasible or unsafe and must publish a report of the results of its public outreach efforts relating to the managed lane.

This bill jeopardizes CDOT’s ability to utilize public-private partnerships (P3s) by increasing costs of using such innovative funding options at a time when transportation is greatly underfunded in Colorado. We support P3s as a funding strategy to complete much-needed infrastructure projects across our state and therefore oppose legislation aimed at curbing their use.

SB19-130 Sales Tax Administration

Because of South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., et al., the U.S. Supreme Court decided that states can require retailers without physical presence in the state to collect sales tax on purchases made by in-state customers so long as the sales tax system in the state is not too burdensome for the out-of-state retailer. This bill aims to simplify the state sales tax system for those retailers without a physical Colorado presence by requiring that out-of-state retailers be responsible for paying only the state sales-tax rate on products shipped into Colorado. It also requires the Department of Revenue to be responsible for all state and local sales tax administration and return processing, and to provide businesses with a database of local-government taxing rates and local taxing jurisdiction boundaries.

Colorado is among the states with the most complicated sales-and-use tax systems in the country, with over 550 jurisdictions that levy sales taxes. We are supportive of and encourage the continuation of efforts to simplify and develop a sales tax system that serves the interests of Colorado businesses, our local governments and special districts while moving our economy forward.

SB19-131 Exempt Certain Businesses From Destination Sourcing Rule

In December 2018, the Department of Revenue adopted various rules related to sales tax collection, including a destination sourcing rule that requires retailers without a physical presence in a particular taxing jurisdiction to collect sales tax based on the goods and services that are delivered to that jurisdiction. This bill exempts those retailers that generate less than $100,000 in gross revenue outside of its local taxing jurisdiction.

Colorado is among the states with the most complicated sales and use tax systems in the country, with over 550 jurisdictions that levy sales taxes. We are supportive of and encourage the continuation of efforts to simplify and develop a sales tax system that serves the interests of Colorado businesses, our local governments and special districts while moving our economy forward.

SB19-134 Out-of-network Health Care Disclosures And Charges

This bill sets the reimbursement amounts out-of-network provides can charge in-network facilities for emergency services. In these cases, carriers must reimburse the out-of-network facility the greater of the following:
• The carrier’s average in-network rate
• 125 percent of Medicare
• The average in-network rate as determined by payments reported to the All Claims Payer Database.
It also sets the reimbursement amounts out-of-network providers can charge in-network facilities for non-emergency services. In these cases, carriers must reimburse the out-of-network facility the greater of:
• The average allowed amount for in- and out-of-network rates multiplied by 150 percent for urban providers and
• The average allowed amount for in- and out-of-network rates multiplied by 200 percent for rural providers.
The bill also authorizes arbitration for payment of claims that are in dispute if certain criteria are met.

This bill will result in increased health insurance premiums, which is the opposite of what we need in Colorado. Chamber members have consistently identified rising cost as the biggest concern regarding health care. The benchmark payments in this proposal are set at such a high rate that they will result in higher costs well beyond current rates.

SB19-135 State Procurement Disparity Study

This bill directs the Department of Personnel to commission a study to determine whether disparities exist in the state procurement system between the participation of historically underutilized businesses and other businesses. "Historically underutilized business" is defined as businesses owned by racial or ethnic minorities, women, persons with disabilities or members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The final report and recommendations must be provided the general assembly and the executive director of the department of personnel no later than December 1, 2020.

The analysis outlined in this bill will help determine if the state procurement system provides an equitable bidding process. It is important for the state to know whether its procurement processes are reflective of the diversity of available contractors in our state.

SB19-169 Project Management Competencies For Certain Contracts

For any state government contract over $1 million, the bill requires contractors to purchase specific software that takes screenshots of all contractor employee computers every three minutes and tracks keystrokes and mouse movements. This data must be stored for seven years and the contractor may not pass the software or storage costs on to the governmental entity.

This legislation requires contractors to purchase specific software created by the proponents of this bill, giving undue competitive advantage to one company. Said software captures an inordinate amount of data beyond the state project, which raises serious privacy concerns. Additionally, because each contractor would have to purchase this software, it would create unnecessary burden for small companies and make them less competitive in bidding for these contracts if they couldn’t afford the software.

SB19-181 Protect Public Welfare Oil And Gas Operations

Current law states that local governments have authority over oil and gas mineral extractions only if the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has identified the specific area for designation. This bill expands local government control by repealing the need for the designation. This bill also:
• Directs the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt rules to minimize emissions of methane and other hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from the oil and gas fuel cycle and to require operators to install continuous emission monitoring equipment at a facility,
• Reforms the mission and composition of the COGCC by directing the COGCC to focus on minimizing impacts to public health, safety, the environment and wildlife resources, and by reducing the number of members with experience in the oil and gas industry and increasing the number of members with experience in wildlife and environmental protection and
• Alters forced pooling laws by requiring that the owners of more than 50 percent of the mineral interest join the application for a pooling order.

Colorado is recognized as a national and international model of responsible oil and gas development. The Chamber has long supported developing oil and gas regulations in a collaborative manner that includes multiple stakeholders. This legislation was drafted without a robust stakeholder process and does not take into account differing sides on this issue or modern research and technology. The Chamber affirms its commitment to work on energy regulations and urges our legislative leaders to consider additional stakeholder input that would take this from one-sided legislation to sound public policy for Colorado.

SB19-184 Authority Colorado Water Institute Study Blockchain Technology

This bill directs the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University to study the uses of blockchain technology to manage a database of water rights, facilitate water markets or water banks and for any other purpose within the Institute’s powers. Results will be reported to the General Assembly.

This study will allow the state to analyze the use of this new technology to help solve long-existing challenges, streamline processes and potentially reduce legal costs.

SB19-188 FAMLI Family Medical Leave Insurance Program

This bill creates a mandatory Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program, providing partial wage replacement to eligible individuals who take leave from work to care for a new child or a family member with a serious medical condition, because of a serious medical condition of their own or due to certain needs arising from a family member’s active duty service. It requires employees and employers to each pay 50 percent of the cost of the premium. Premiums are based on a percentage of the employee’s yearly wages.

While we agree that family leave is a valued benefit, this costly proposal goes further than any current state program in the U.S. Many Colorado employers offer a better benefit today than the program that this bill would create. Those employers will be forced to forgo their richer employee benefits if they’re mandated to participate in this state program. Additionally, this one-size-fits-all, costly solution does not conform with the federal FMLA program and will increase the burden for small companies and large companies alike, impacting our economy and businesses’ ability to succeed.

SB19-196 Colorado Quality Apprenticeship Training Act Of 2019

This bill requires that all construction contracts for public projects that are expected to cost over $1 million be awarded by a competitive, sealed best-value bidding process, rather than invitation for lowest bid. A best-value bidding process requires the contractor to disclose the estimated use of registered apprentices, minority-owned businesses and craft labor, as well as the contractor’s and subcontractor’s job standards, which includes disclosing their health care, wage and retirement benefits, whether they pay industry standard wages and their long-term career opportunities for workers. This bill also requires the contractor to disclose all subcontractors when submitting a bid.

The Chamber is appreciative of the approach to incorporate apprentices into existing projects – an opportunity to continue education and training while fulfilling talent needs of our businesses. However, this bill goes beyond adding opportunities for apprentices. The additional provisions in this bill would increase costs for infrastructure projects upwards of 10 percent, will make it harder for small and minority-owned businesses to compete and could jeopardize safety by prolonging construction and repairs as contractors go through this process.