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.

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Bill # Title Summary Position Justification Materials Pillars Status
HB21- 1002 Reductions Certain Taxpayers' Income Tax

This bill restores, over time, certain federal tax deductions that were disallowed in Colorado by House Bill 20-1420. Specific dedications are related to net operating losses, the application of the federal excess business loss rules, interest expenses and qualified improvement property.

This legislation restores some of the much needed tax relief for Colorado employers that was passed in the CARES Act.

HB21-1007 State Apprenticeship Agency

This bill creates a State Apprenticeship Agency (SAA) in the Department of Labor and Unemployment as a type one agency. The SAA will serve as the primary contact for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship and oversee apprenticeship programs including registration, required standards for registration, quality assurance, the promotion of apprenticeships and the provision of technical assistance. The bill requires the SAA to accept applications for registration of apprenticeship programs beginning July 1, 2023.

While we applaud efforts to provide more opportunities for career-based, dual-track learning, including internships and apprenticeships, we are concerned this legislation would narrow the ability for educators and employers to create apprenticeships across a variety of industries. Without amendments, this bill may add an additional layer of bureaucracy that impedes the progress our state has made in increasing career pathways for Colorado students.

HB21-1028 Annual Public Report Affordable Housing

This bill requires the Colorado Division of Housing to prepare a public report that gives detail on the total money that the division or the Colorado State Housing Board received from any federal, state, public or private sources during the prior fiscal year. It would also report what the division or board granted or loaned from state funding to promote providing affordable housing.

With the high cost of housing in Colorado, we understand and appreciate the need for affordable housing. This bill would give legislators and constituents information on an annual basis to ensure taxpayer dollars address affordable housing in a meaningful way and anticipate future needs and priorities.

HB21-1049 Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation

This bill would prohibit an employer from requiring union membership or payment of union dues as a condition for employment, stating that all-union agreements are unfair labor practices. The bill creates both civil and criminal penalties for employer violations and authorizes the attorney general and district attorneys to investigate alleged violations in their judicial districts.

The Chamber has consistently opposed any efforts to weaken Colorado’s existing Labor Peace Act, because its statutory framework has provided a balance to ensure a healthy relationship between business and labor in this state. The 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.

HB21-1065 Veterans' Hiring Preference

This bill creates a statutory basis that allows private employers to give preference when hiring a new employee to a veteran of the armed forces or National Guard and to a spouse of a disabled veteran or service member killed in the line of duty, so long as the veteran or spouse is as qualified as other applicants for the position. This bill also establishes that private employers who adopt a program that gives preference to veterans or their spouses are not committing discriminatory or unfair labor practices.

We’re committed to supporting our veterans as they transition to the civilian workforce. We know many veterans have the kind of transferable knowledge, leadership skills and work ethic that make them valuable employees. The Chamber has historically supported legislation to engage this talented workforce of over 400,000 vets and will continue to support such efforts.

HB21-1074 Immunity for Entities During COVID-19

The bill would grant entities immunity from civil liability for any act or omission that results in exposure, loss, damage, injury or death related to COVID-19, as long as the entity attempts in good faith to comply with applicable public health guidelines. The bill would be repealed two years after the governor terminates the current state of disaster emergency declaration.

This legislation recognizes the extensive work businesses have put into keeping customers safe by adjusting operations and taking measures to align with COVID-19 public health orders.

HB21-1093 Remedies in Class Actions Consumer Protection Act

This bill permits class action lawsuits under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.

This legislation will result in increased settlements and legal delays, driving costs up for businesses.

HB21-1124 Expand Ability Conduct Business Electronically

This bill establishes definitions for electronic communication to better facilitate business in a digital environment and establishes requirements for remote participation in shareholder and director meetings.

This bill is a positive step toward modernizing statutes to better facilitate business in the digital age, which is particularly important considering the shift to remote work for many organizations.

HB21-1134 Report Tenant Rent Payment Information To Credit Agencies

This bill creates a voluntary pilot program to establish credit through rental payment. The pilot program would report out to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority on the results of the program in 2024.

Many Coloradans struggle to build credit, which presents a barrier to homeownership and entrepreneurship, as we have seen through our work on Prosper CO. This bill creates a pilot program that may be effective in providing another avenue for building good credit, a concept of which we are supportive.

HB21-1161 Suspend Statewide Assessments for Select Grades

This bill suspends the mandatory administration of certain state assessments, prohibits school districts from using student academic growth as a performance measure for staff for the 2020-2021 school year and excludes the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years from consideration by Department of Education when placing a school on performance watch.

We strongly support the use of student assessments as an effective tool to measure the performance of teachers, administrators and programs designed to advance our education system. We also understand that the pandemic may have resulted in significant learning loss for students. This bill acknowledges the unprecedented challenges that educators and students have faced over the last year and gives schools the ability to make up for lost time in the classroom.

HB21-1163 Allow Retailers To Absorb Sales Or Use Tax

This bill allows retailers to advertise that they will either absorb or pay any sales or use tax on purchases.

This bipartisan bill creates essential flexibility for businesses, especially small businesses, to be competitive in the era of online shopping by offering an optional way for retailers to relieve customers of some costs associated with their purchases. We encourage collaborative efforts to support a healthy business climate.

HB21-1167 Private Construction Contract Payments

This bill caps the amount a property owner can withhold from a contractor and a contractor can withhold from a subcontractor or supplier for unsatisfactory work at 5%. This cap applies only to contracts of at least $150,000 in the private sector.

Contractors withhold money for contracts to ensure customers receive the quality of work that was promised and 10% is a long-standing industry standard that we don’t believe should be changed through statute.

HB21-1198 Health-care Billing Requirements For Indigent Patients

This bill requires health care facilities to screen uninsured patients for eligibility for public health insurance programs, the Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP) and other discounted care. If a facility determines that a patient is ineligible for discounted care, the facility must notify the patient and provide an opportunity for the patient to appeal. Facilities and licensed professionals who provide eligible patients with emergency and other non-CICP services must limit their charges to no more than 80% of the Medicare rate, collect payments in monthly installments that equal no more than 5% of a patient’s household income, and consider the patient’s bill paid in full after 36 months of payments. Providers also must meet certain requirements before assigning or selling patient debt to a medical creditor or pursuing collections. HCPF will be required to collect reports on compliance and patient demographic data from facilities and fine facilities that the department determines to be knowingly or willfully not complying with the law.

While we support efforts to make health care more affordable for all Coloradans and educating consumers on how they can access programs designed to help with costs, this bill would limit what health care providers can charge to patients when they must access non-discounted services, such as emergency care, to only 80% of Medicare rates, which would force providers who treat all patients regardless of ability to pay, to shift costs to the private sector. It would also limit the means that debt collectors have to recoup debt that could have implications beyond the health care industry.

HB21-1199 Consumer Digital Repair Bill of Rights

This bill requires original digital electronic equipment manufacturers to provide resources to independent repair providers for repair services.

This bill is unnecessary and raises security concerns. Manufacturers already work with small local businesses to certify them as authorized repair providers, giving consumers more options and manufacturers the assurance that providers have received proper training. The expansion of sharing proprietary information with any independent repair provider would put manufacturers in a challenging position to guarantee the work of a third party that is out of their control. Additionally, this bill would mandate the sharing of proprietary information including how electronic products operate, specific schematic diagrams and service code descriptions that could compromise cybersecurity.

HB21-1200 Revise Student Financial Literacy Standards

This bill tasks the State Board of Education with reviewing the knowledge and skills that students should acquire in high school in order to be financially literate including budgeting and accessing student loans, federal student aid (FAFSA) and the Colorado application for state financial aid (CASFA). It also directs schools to relay the importance of completing FAFSA and CASFA to students and their families.

Expanding existing requirements to ensure student curriculum includes information about higher education, debt and homeownership helps better equip students to build wealth.

HB21-1207 Overpayment of Workers' Compensation Benefits

This bill limits the definition of overpayments in workers’ compensation benefits to include only benefits paid as the result of fraud or duplicate benefits resulting from offsets that reduce disability or death benefits.

By limiting the definition of overpayment in workers’ compensation, this bill would disrupt the longstanding collaborative process in place to determine changes to workers’ compensation benefits and could result in workers receiving benefits they are not entitled to without penalty or repayment.

HB21-1208 Natural Disaster Mitigation Enterprise

This bill creates a new state enterprise that would collect a fee from insurance companies. Fees would be used to create a grant program for disaster mitigation and to assist with matching funds to qualify for federal grants.

Given that the state already has grant programs dedicated to disaster mitigation, this bill is duplicative and would unnecessarily drive premium costs up for Coloradans across our state who may or may not directly benefit from the mitigation efforts.

HB21-1223 Create Outdoor Recreation Industry Office

This bill would create the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office within the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, which would serve as the central coordinator for outdoor recreation industry matters. The office will consider and prioritize continued economic growth and promote workforce training in the outdoor recreation industry.

This bill would formalize the Outdoor Recreation Office in statute, promoting coordination between Colorado’s outdoor recreation and related activities throughout the state.

HB21-1229 Home Owners' Associations Governance Funding Record Keeping

This bill makes a multitude of changes to transparency, disclosure, regulation and executive governance practices for unit/homeowners associations (HOAs). Changes range from new digital posting requirements for community fees and standards to new agenda and voting rules at HOA meetings.

This bill requires homeowners associations to transition control to residents sooner than current statute allows. In order for developers to optimize their ability to implement their vision for communities and adjust to the market over time, developers need the ability during the development period to have control of the HOA. Without that ability, developers face too much uncertainty to invest significant capital, and developments will no longer happen on a scale needed to address our supply issues.

HB21-1230 Create User Friendly State Internet Rules

This bill would create a centralized, statewide, “user-friendly” internet portal for all agency rulemaking by June 30, 2022.

This bill increases transparency and access to the rulemaking process, which often impacts the business community. It will enhance understanding and awareness of the process by providing a centralized and user-friendly online resource.

HB21-1232 Standardized Health Benefit Plan Colorado Option

The bill authorizes the Commissioner of Insurance to design a standardized health benefit plan to be offered by health insurance carriers. It also sets target individual market premium reductions for insurance carriers of 20% over a two-year period and establishes that if they fail to meet those premium reductions, a public health insurance option would be authorized in Colorado. The public option would be designed by an elected board.

With health care premiums in the individual market falling in Colorado and our economy still in recovery, now is not the time to introduce sweeping and risky legislation that would increase costs for most Coloradans, reduce competition and consumer choice, and transfer power to an appointed member of the executive branch without appropriate legislative oversight. The timelines and arbitrary thresholds in the bill almost guarantee that the private sector won’t have the time or opportunity to meet the goals of lowering premiums, turning a public option into a foregone conclusion. The Chamber is also opposed to any form of price-setting, and this legislation directs carriers to provide a specific government product and dictates the cost of that product, ensuring that we lose all the value associated with a competitive marketplace. We believe in a market-based, stepwise approach that reduces health care costs for all Coloradans.

HB21-1237 Competitive Pharmacy Benefits Manager Marketplace

This bill requires the department of personnel to contract with a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) and acquire the technology to support PBM reverse auction for group benefit plans. The newly acquired technology would be required to audit PBM prescription drug claims to monitor the effectiveness of the PBM and to perform market checks of prescription drug pricing competitiveness.

Rather than the impacted department eliminating a contract per the agreement, the legislature is attempting to impact an existing state contract less than one year after the state entered it. While we applaud the goal of this bill to reduce health care expenses, we are concerned that this bill sets a bad precedent far beyond this industry and makes it less attractive for the private sector to do business with the state.

HB21-1241 Employee-Owned Business Loan Program Modifications

The bill modifies requirements for an existing loan program created to assist transitions of businesses to employee-owned businesses by repealing current eligibility requirements and requiring the Office of Economic Development and International Trade to establish new eligibility criteria for the program. The bill also amends the requirements for the loans by allowing a loan to be used toward the purchase of the business by the employees and extends the program from 2022 to 2025.

This bill helps expand an effective program by better aligning the program with the needs of businesses considering the conversion to employee ownership, expanding eligibility and allowing for a more adaptive program to ensure more available funds are deployed.

HB21-1246 PERA Public Employees' Retirement Association Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies

This bill would require the Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA) board to create an exclusion list of all fossil fuel companies in whose stocks, securities, equities, assets or other obligations PERA has any money or assets directly invested. Within six months from the completion of the exclusion list, the board is required to issue a determination as to whether divestment from the companies on the exclusion list complies with the board's fiduciary obligations. If the board determines that divestment from any company on the exclusion list does not comply with its fiduciary obligations, the board will remove the company from the exclusion list.

This bill challenges PERA further by taking investment choices out of the hands of PERA investment experts and putting them into the hands of the legislature. Regardless of the issue, we believe PERA should retain its ability to respond to the market and make investment decisions that best ensure its sustainability. PERA is actively engaged in soliciting feedback from investors about where investments are made and, in an effort to keep stakeholders informed of PERA’s environmental, social and governance investing initiatives, its Investment Stewardship group within the chief investment officer’s office publishes an annual report outlining such investments.

HB21-1260 General Fund Transfer Implement State Water Plan

This bill allocates $20 million from the general fund to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to implement the state water plan. The state will transfer $15 million to the water plan implementation cash fund for expenditures and grants, while the remaining $5 million will be transferred to the water supply reserve fund to disperse to basin roundtables.

The Chamber has supported Colorado’s Water Plan since its initial development and sees this as a critical infusion of funding to help implement key projects across the state.

HB21-1262 Money Support Agricultural Events Organization

This bill will create a new program in the Department of Agriculture to provide $2 million in COVID-19 relief payments to agricultural events organizations. In addition to these payments, the bill allocates $3.5 million for both the Colorado State Fair and the National Western Stock Show.

The Chamber has long recognized and supported Colorado’s agriculture industry, which generates $40 billion in economic activity annually and provides jobs to more than 170,000 Coloradans. Likewise, our history with the National Western Stock Show goes back to its inception when the Chamber partnered with business leaders and the agriculture community to create the event 115 years ago. This bill will provide funding that will support future generations of leaders in agriculture through the Colorado State Fair, enhance the Stock Show’s reputation as the industry’s premier national event and preserve Colorado’s position as a global player in agriculture.

HB21-1263 Meeting And Events Incentive Program

This bill creates the Colorado Meeting and Events Incentive Program within the Colorado Tourism Office to provide rebates and direct support to eligible events. There are two classes of events, personal and other events (e.g., a meeting, conference or festival). Personal events eligible for funding are those that will take place in Colorado between July 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2021. Other eligible events are those that will take place in Colorado between July 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2022. Events must generate at least 25 overnight stays in lodging establishments, demonstrate a significant economic benefit as determined by the office and meet any additional criteria established by the office.

The Chamber recognizes that the events industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and that this bill can play a role in attracting events and visitors to the region.

HB21-1264 Funds Workforce Development Increase Worker Skills

This bill creates the Stimulus Investments in Reskilling, Upskilling and Next-Skilling Workers Program as an initiative of the State Workforce Development Council and appropriates $25 million for the program, which will facilitate training for unemployed and underemployed workers during times when the statewide unemployment rate exceeds 4%.

This bill provides funding that will help Coloradans gain employment and recover from both this pandemic as well as future economic downturns. We are exploring if funding can be triggered when specific regions or demographic groups experience unemployment above 4%, even if the statewide average is lower, as we see this funding as a great tool for getting Coloradans back to work during challenging times.

SB21-061 Claims for Economic Damages Incurred by Minors

Current law allows a parent or guardian the right to sue for damages of a minor. This bill would permit minors to also bring a claim to recover damages and it expands the statute of limitations for civil claims.

The current law sets the statute of limitations for claims at two years, which is the national norm and encourages people to bring claims in a timely manner. This law would greatly extend that statute of limitations and also jeopardize our state’s policy that parents are responsible for taking care of a minor’s medical needs and recovering damages on their behalf.

SB21-080 Protections For Entities During COVID-19 

This bill would protect entities from liability related to COVID-19 if they comply with public health guidelines. An entity would not be liable for any damages that result from exposure, loss, damage, injury or death due to COVID-19 unless a claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the issue was caused by the entity’s failure to comply with public health guidelines, gross negligence, a reckless indifference to the consequences or omission. The bill would be repealed two years after the governor terminates the current state of disaster emergency declaration.

This legislation recognizes the extensive work businesses have put into keeping customers safe by adjusting operations and taking measures to align with COVID-19 public health orders.

SB21-085 Actuarial Review Health Insurance Mandate Legislation

The bill requires the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) to retain a contractor on or before Nov. 1, 2021, to perform actuarial reviews of proposed legislation that may impose a new health benefit mandate on health benefit plans. Fiscal notes for any legislative proposal that may impose a new health benefit mandate on health benefit plans shall either note premium impact information that is produced by the contractor during their review or indicate that no information was produced by the contractor during their review.

This bill helps legislators and constituents understand upfront the costs that Coloradans may incur as the result of health benefit mandates. This is particularly important given the changes to health care policy that are under consideration in the current session that would require premium reductions. Health benefit mandates increase costs for many insured Coloradans and it’s critical that we increase awareness of their impacts, so that an accurate cost benefit analysis can occur.

SB21-087 Agricultural Workers' Rights

This bill requires agricultural employers and employees to comply with the Colorado Labor Peace Act. Agricultural employees would also be allowed to organize and join labor unions, engage in protected, concerted activities and engage in collective bargaining. Agricultural workers would no longer be exempt from state and local minimum wage laws and would be granted meal breaks and rest periods. The Division of Labor Standards and Statistics would be ordered to establish overtime pay rules for employees who work more than 40 hours a week or 12 hours a day. The bill also stipulates certain requirements regarding agricultural employees’ living accommodations, including access and transportation to key service providers and the ability to have visitors at employer-provided housing without interference from other people. In addition, the legislation would create an agricultural work advisory committee to study and analyze agricultural wages and working conditions, and creates rights, remedies and enforcement for agricultural employees, whistleblowers, key service providers and others.

This bill changes the definition of employee, which would weaken Colorado’s carefully crafted Labor Peace Act, which has long provided a balanced statutory framework to ensure the 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.

SB21-091 Credit Transaction Charge Limitations

This law would allow a company to charge a customer or lessee a fee of no more than 2% per transaction when the customer or lessee chooses to pay using a credit or charge card. These fees are currently prohibited under state law.

This legislation reaches a compromise that alleviates a portion of credit card fee burdens on small businesses and aligns Colorado with national standards of recouping credit card transaction costs.

SB21-106 Concerning Successful High School Transitions

The bill requires the Department of Education and the State Board of Education to consider whether an innovative learning plan includes opportunities for students to participate in registered or unregistered apprenticeships, internships and technical training or skills programs through an industry provider, teacher training opportunities, concurrent enrollment and industry certificates. The bill also creates a fourth-year innovation pilot program to disburse state funding to postsecondary education and training programs on behalf of low-income students who graduate early from a high school and are participating in the pilot program prior to enrolling in the first or second semester of their fourth year of high school. The bill creates funding for the pilot program and requires the Department of Higher Education to report annually to various committees on the program.

This legislation aligns with the Chamber’s long-held desire to provide tailored, career-based training to kids earlier in their education journeys. Policies that connect more students to career-related education, provide equitable access for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, and accelerate and expand high-quality career pathways are good for Colorado students, families and our state’s economic future.

SB21-119 Increasing Access to High Quality Credentials

This bill amends the Career Development Success Program by removing residency programs and expanding apprenticeship programs to include any industry program, not just construction programs. Additionally, the bill expands the definition of a qualified industry-credential program to include a career and technical education program that, upon completion, results in an industry-recognized credential with labor market value aligned with a high-skill, high-wage, in-demand job. It also requires industry workforce needs and perspectives be regularly considered and changes some reporting requirements.

The Chamber is supportive of efforts to increase career education earlier in our educational system. This bill expands apprenticeship programs and increases the role of business in developing such programs, which we believe will increase effectiveness and ensure we better prepare students to join the workforce of the future.

SB21-125 Alternate Proposals Air Quality Control Rulemaking

This bill clarifies that the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) may give notice of rulemaking prior to 60 days before a hearing and requires the notice to include a description of the classes of people and entities that will be affected by the proposed rule. It also adds requirements for the AQCC related to timing and deadlines, governance, economic impacts and stakeholder outreach and impacts for any alternate proposals submitted in a rulemaking process.

This bill ensures that the rulemaking process includes ample stakeholder outreach and maintains focus on the intended subject of rulemaking rather than unrelated, and often distracting, alternative proposals. We see this effort as a positive step toward streamlining rulemaking while continuing to engage impacted parties.

SB21-163 Cost-benefit Analysis For Rules Additional Requirements

The bill extends the time period in which any person can ask for a cost-benefit analysis of a draft rule or draft amendment to a rule for which the agency has filed a notice of proposed rulemaking. If the cost benefit analysis demonstrates materially different effects in different regions of the state, the agency must specify and include the different costs, benefits and effects on different regions. If a proposed rule has a negative impact, the agency must inform the public. The results of the cost-benefit analysis must be presented at the rulemaking hearing, including public testimony on the results of the analysis.

This bill promotes fiscal transparency and allows stakeholders and the public a more reasonable timeframe to comment on the statewide impacts of legislation, both of which are necessary aspects of rulemaking and a healthy government. We support this bill but will also ask for an amendment to ensure the process for the Public Utilities Commission mirrors that of other rulemaking.

SB21-169 Restrict Insurers' Use of External Consumer Data

This bill legislates how carriers use external data sources to determine premiums, requires disclosures of various data sources to the Division of Insurance and allows the Commissioner of Insurance to promulgate rules restricting or prohibiting the use of external data sources by insurance carriers.

Companies need to be able to analyze risk and price products accordingly, and this bill would limit their ability to use data to make those decisions. Additionally, the Colorado Division of Insurance already has the authority to ensure rates are not discriminatory, making this bill unnecessary.

SB21-173 Rights in Residential Lease Agreements

This bill dramatically adjusts landlord and tenant rights in residential rental agreements. Changes include prosecuting wrongful eviction claims under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, modifying the timeline for default writ of restitution, eliminating the bond requirement for warranty of habitability and implementing an array of new landlord prohibitions.

This bill would drastically alter the relationship between landlords and tenants and greatly expand landlord liability, jeopardizing the state’s already limited options for Coloradans in need of affordable workforce housing. It would also implement requirements that would make it more difficult for landlords to pay their mortgages on time when a tenant is behind in rent.

SB21-175 Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board

The bill creates the Colorado prescription drug affordability review board and requires the board to perform affordability reviews of prescription drugs and establish price caps for prescription drugs that the board determines are unaffordable for Colorado consumers.

While the Chamber applauds efforts to reduce the cost of health care and increase transparency, we do not support artificial price-setting for any industry. We continue to actively lead efforts to decrease the high cost of health care and encourage all stakeholders to collaborate toward solutions that work for consumers and employers.

SB21-176 Protecting Opportunities and Workers' Rights Act

This bill allows employment discrimination claims to be brought in any court, creates and expands definitions under the law and expands the time limit in which charges can be brought against employers to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The Chamber has historically supported the Colorado Civil Rights Division and Commission to enforce the state's anti-discrimination laws in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodation. This legislation allows claims to be filed in any court, which would undermine the Colorado Civil Rights Division and Commission and perpetuate litigation over resolution.

SB21-184 Ski Area Safety Plans And Accident Reporting

This bill requires ski areas to make public a safety plan with the goal of reducing accidents and the frequency and severity of injuries. Certain ski areas would also need to collect and make public data on ski and snowboard accidents.

While we support efforts to increase the safety of skiers and snowboarders on Colorado’s slopes, this bill does not consider the full picture of what leads to accidents, such as skier ability or slope conditions. Colorado would be the only state out of 37 with ski mountains to enact this restrictive legislation, making us an outlier for investments from ski companies and tourists themselves. Few industries have been hit harder during the pandemic than tourism, and this bill could lead to catastrophic ramifications for a crucial part of our economy that means so much to our workforce and state identity.

SB21-197 Workers' Compensation Physician

This bill would change the existing workers’ compensation statute by expanding physician choice for employees beyond the current agreed-to level.

This bill will disrupt an existing effective workers’ compensation process for selecting physicians and is likely to raise costs as individuals would be able to change their physicians at any point. The network of physicians currently available provides high-quality care to workers as providers are thoroughly vetted and screened for quality and cost.

SB21-200 Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice

This bill directs the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to enhance its role in rulemaking aimed at reducing statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It directs wholesale generation and transmission electric cooperatives to file with the public utilities commission plans to achieve an 80% GHG reduction by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, eventually working to 100% reduction by 2040. It also gives AQCC authority to collect annual emission fees from GHG pollution. Further, this bill creates an environmental justice advisory board and an ombudsperson position within the Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Chamber has serious concerns about creating hard targets in legislation. Hard targets inhibit an industry’s or sector’s flexibility when working to implement legislative goals. In this case, hard targets for specific industries ultimately do not reduce carbon emissions wholesale, but rather shift those emissions from one industry to another. Furthermore, this legislation did not go through a robust stakeholder outreach process—a process that could have addressed carbon-shifting concerns and would have raised the need for consumer and reliability protections. Finally, this bill attempts to expedite carbon reduction efforts that are already underway by circumnavigating the governor’s office and stakeholders who are currently and collaboratively engaged in this conversation.

SB21-203 Funding For Colorado Proud

This bill gives $2.5 million to the Department of Agriculture for use in the Colorado Proud program, which provides new opportunities for Colorado's food and agricultural producers to increase sales globally and helps support the growth and resiliency of Colorado food systems.

This bipartisan bill allocates additional funding to Colorado Proud, an existing program that boasts over 2,700 members in Colorado’s agriculture industry. The funding in this bill will benefit the agriculture industry, a major economic engine in the state.

SB21-204 Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant Program Funding

This bill transfers $5 million to the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Grant Program to be used for projects that create diversity and resiliency in the local economies of rural communities.

The Chamber has historically been supportive of the REDI Grant Program and we encourage bipartisan efforts to diversify our economy with the belief that a varied marketplace is more resilient in crisis. Further, bolstering our rural economies will lead to statewide economic growth and recovery.

SB21-228 PERA Public Employees Retirement Association Payment Cash Fund

This bill moves $380 million from the general fund to create a PERA payment cash fund for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. These dollars will be used to pay for the $225 million direct distribution payment to PERA on July 1, 2020 and for future direct distributions.

We understand that PERA’s unfunded liability costs taxpayers, negatively impacts the state’s credit rating and can hurt Colorado’s ability to attract companies and jobs. In 2018, we advocated for legislation to fund this liability; however, this funding was suspended due to COVID-19-related budget reductions. With an influx of state and federal dollars, we believe it is critical to restore payments to begin to help close this gap.

SB21-229 Rural Jump Start Zone Grant Program

This bill directs $3 million to the Rural Jump Start Grant Program, which helps economically distressed communities – particularly communities that will be affected by the energy market’s transition away from coal to more renewable energy sources – attract new businesses and jobs. New businesses can receive up to $20,000 for establishing operations in rural jump-start zones and up to $2,500 for each new job they create. Businesses establishing operations in previously identified coal transition communities can receive up to $40,000, as well as up to $5,000 for each new job they create.

This bill provides targeted support in rural, distressed communities for job creation and business development. The Chamber supported the development of this program in 2020 and will continue to advocate for funding for rural organizations and a competitive marketplace. This bipartisan stimulus legislation promotes economic growth and recovery across the state.

SB21-232 Displaced Workers Grant

This bill appropriates $15 million for the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative's Displaced Workers Grant, which is estimated to serve at least 3,000 displaced Colorado workers across the state, as well as help institutions of higher education scale high-demand programs.

This bill provides additional funding to an already successful program that will allow more students to access higher education. This funding will provide wraparound services for students, especially for Colorado’s displaced workers who are seeking further education.

SB21-236 Increase Capacity Early Childhood Care & Education

This bill creates four new grant programs to increase capacity for early childhood care and education, encourage employer-based child care facilities, and improve recruitment and retention rates and salaries for early childhood educators. It also eliminates the repeal dates for the child care sustainability grant program, which has provided financial support to licensed providers that are in danger of closing because of COVID-19, and the emerging and expanding child care grant program. Money from the general fund and federal funds will support these grant programs.

Through its research, Prosper CO, a Chamber affiliate, identified the high cost of child care as a major barrier that’s preventing Coloradans, particularly people of color and women, from building wealth for themselves and their families. In addition, many parents were forced to drop out of the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the lack of accessible, affordable child care. Even before the pandemic, employers expressed the desire to provide nearby or on-site affordable child care to their employees as an additional benefit. This bill would aid employers in these efforts, as well as support early childhood educators who are crucial to building an educated workforce for Colorado’s future.