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
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.

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.