2017 Education and Workforce Bills

We focus on education as one of our pillars for a strong economy because preparing our students—our workforce of the future—is essential to our success as a region. In fact, it’s a critical issue that we’re focusing on as a Chamber.

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

  • Position Key
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  • Oppose
  • Neutral
  • STATUS Key
  • Passed
  • Failed
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  • Active
Bill # Title Summary Position Justification Materials Pillars Status
HB18-1001 FAMLI Family Medical Leave Insurance Program

This bill creates the family and medical leave insurance (FAMLI) program in the newly created Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance in the Department of Labor and Employment. The division would provide partial wage replacement benefits to eligible individuals who take leave from work to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition or who are unable to work due to their own serious health condition. The bill expands employer coverage to employers with one or more employee as compared to the 50-employee threshold under the FMLA.

This bill would be costly and burdensome for employers, particularly to small businesses, as they would be required to implement an additional employee payroll deduction. It would also impose significant administrative and operational costs for the state which would be required to administer an insurance program with little certitude of solvency in an economic downturn.

HB18-1005 Notice to Students of Postsecondary Courses

Current law requires a public high school student's education provider to notify the student and his or her parent or legal guardian of their opportunities for concurrent enrollment. This bill requires the notification to include information regarding the benefits of completing concurrent enrollment courses, all concurrent enrollment courses offered at the education provider’s facility, all concurrent courses offered at a postsecondary institution’s facility and all associated costs.

This bill encourages increased understanding and awareness of concurrent enrollment offerings and costs, discourages unnecessary duplication of classes and is mindful of students’ limited resources. The Chamber is supportive of concurrent enrollment as research shows that access to college-level classes while in high school helps prepare students for postsecondary success – this is a critical component of future workforce development.

HB18-1014 Social Studies Assessment in High Schools

This bill removes the requirement that the social studies state assessment be administered in high school.

The Chamber has long supported the development of the Colorado Academic Standards and the use of smart assessments in our schools. Colorado is now in the process of implementing the standards and assessments that the Chamber believes will equip our students with the skills needed to succeed in a 21st century workplace. Repealing any of these standards and assessments will add significant unnecessary cost and delay implementation of the high standards we need for our students.

HB18-1030 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. 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 been providing 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. The Chamber believes that more should be done to educate the nation on our state’s hybrid approach and how it has contributed to Colorado’s economic well-being.

HB18-1033 Employee Leave to Participate in Elections

Current law allows an employee to take leave to vote in an election on the day of the election. This bill expands that leave to include registering to vote, obtaining a ballot or replacement ballot or obtaining documents or identification necessary to vote or register on any day during the eight days prior to the election. It exempts employees who have three consecutive hours in which they’re not scheduled to work in those eight days.

Colorado has a unique statewide vote-by-mail program that allows for increased access and participation in the election process. While we are very supportive of voter engagement and participation, this bill doesn’t acknowledge current law and the innovations and advancements in technology available to voters allowing online registration and the option to mail in their ballot. It also doesn’t recognize the administrative burden on employers associated with oversight and enforcement to mitigate potential abuse.

HB18-1053 Reclaimed Water Use for Marijuana Cultivation

This bill allows reclaimed domestic wastewater to be used for marijuana cultivation.

Expanding uses for reclaimed water is a critical part of the state water plan approved in 2015. We know that using reclaimed water safely in this manner will free up other sources of fresh water for more appropriate uses. We are committed to maximizing the water we receive on the Front Range instead of asking for more.

HB18-1067 Right to Rest Act

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.

This legislation is unnecessary because the bill duplicates rights already afforded to all people, regardless of housing status, in the U.S. Constitution.

HB18-1069 Reclaimed Water Use for Toilet Flushing

This bill allows reclaimed domestic wastewater to be used for toilet flushing.

Expanding uses for reclaimed water is a critical part of the state water plan approved in 2015. We know that using reclaimed water safely in this manner, will free up other sources of fresh water for more appropriate uses. We are committed to maximizing the water we receive on the Front Range instead of asking for more.

HB18-1071 Regulate Oil Gas Operations Protect Public Safety

This bill requires that the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulate oil and gas operations to prevent and mitigate significant adverse environmental impacts on the environment or wildlife.

Colorado already has the most stringent oil and gas regulations in the country, which are regarded as best practices nationally and internationally, reinforcing the effectiveness of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in its current form.

SB18-006 Recording Fee to Fund Attainable Housing

This bill increases the recording or filing fee paid to the county clerk and recorder for each document received for recording or filing. The new money will be allocated to a statewide affordable housing investment fund.

While the Chamber is actively engaged in finding solutions to incent the building of attainable housing for our workforce, there is no nexus between the fee and its planned allocation. The current fee is collected strictly to cover the costs of recording documents by the county clerk. Collecting funds beyond the cost of the recording and spending the funds collected on the allocation outlined in this bill creates a TABOR issue. When examining public funding to support building attainable housing, the Chamber believes everyone must contribute toward the solution and no individual or group should bear the burden alone.

SB18-007 Affordable Housing Tax Credit

This bill changes the name of the existing low-income housing tax credit to the affordable housing tax credit and extends the credit for five years. Modeled after the federal program, the state program allows the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority to allocate tax credits for the development of low-income rental housing.

Since the original bill was signed into law in January 2015, the state has seen tremendous success with the low-income housing tax credit. This bill would extend the program’s life and further provide families and individuals with opportunities for affordable housing in the state of Colorado. This is a great example of a successful public private partnership in Colorado

SB18-038 Reclaimed Water Use on Industrial Hemp

This bill allows reclaimed domestic wastewater to be used for industrial hemp cultivation.

Expanding uses for reclaimed water is a critical part of the state water plan approved in 2015. We know that using reclaimed water safely in this manner will free up other sources of fresh water for more appropriate uses. We are committed to maximizing the water we receive on the Front Range instead of asking for more.

SB18-048 Protect Act Local Government Authority Oil & Gas Facilities

This bill expands the land use authority of local governments in relation to oil and gas mineral extraction areas.

Colorado has a distinct way of doing business that involves working together, respecting proven processes, compromising and finding common ground. As a state that is recognized as a national and international model of responsible oil and gas development, with strong regulations on all oil and gas production activities, including enforcement of environmental safeguards and protection again waste, a patchwork of local regulations doesn’t make sense. Allowing regulation to vary from each municipality would create unnecessary complication and add an increased administrative burden that would negatively impact the industry and our economy.

SB18-063 Oil Gas Higher Financial Assurance Reclamation Requirements

This bill requires that an oil and gas operator be able to demonstrate that they have the finances to cover all foreseeable expenses should an event occur where they have failed to meet compliance obligations. Only at that time would the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission be allowed to issue financial assurance to approve operations.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has already set forth stringent regulations on oil and gas that benefit the environment and enhance public safety. SB18-063 increases the financial assurance required by the commission to prohibitively high levels. This would lead to the failure of many small operators and even cause the largest of operators to deter investment into Colorado which, in the end, has negative impacts to our state’s overall economy and jobs.

SB18-064 Require 100% Renewable Energy By 2035

This bill updates the renewable energy standard to require that all electric utilities, including cooperative electric associations and municipally owned utilities, derive their energy from 100 percent renewable sources by 2035.

Colorado is already very aggressive in the transition toward an “all of the above” approach when it comes to the usage of renewable energy sources. The marketplace on its own, is moving in the direction toward complete use of renewable energy without the need for a mandate.