Strategic | Where We Engage

Each year the Colorado General Assembly considers 500 or more pieces of legislation. Are you interested in which bills Colorado Concern is tracking during the 2015 legislative session and where each bill is in the process? Click here for an "At a Glance" status sheet, or for a real-time status sheet with additional details, click here.

Colorado Concern Advocacy

Click here to find out what issues Colorado Concern is working on and how you can help, find and contact your elected federal, state and local officials, and learn more about important issues facing businesses in Colorado.

United | Weekly Legislative Update

Colorado Concern produces a weekly newsletter for its members during the Colorado State Legislative Session, January through May. Click here to view archives of these newsletters.

From the President and CEO

The Week in Review: March 30, 2015

Each week we provide you with an update on issues under consideration at the State Capitol that are priority items for Colorado Concern. Many other issues of importance and interest to the business community are being debated, too, and this week we are providing you a synopsis of a number of these proposals and where they stand as we enter the last six weeks of the 2015 legislative session.

Thank you to our team at Nexus Policy Group for the highlights below:

Much work remains to be done before final adjournment on May 6, including the passing of the Long Appropriations Bill and the School Finance Act, always the two biggest bills of the year. In addition, decisions must be made on which bills requiring appropriations of new money or cuts in taxes can be funded. Among the most significant decisions to be reached is whether to continue the hospital provider fee as an enterprise, which would free up substantial spending authority for the General Assembly. Enterprises, defined as state-owned businesses that derive less than 10 percent of their money from state or local government revenues, are exempted from the spending limit calculations of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

MINIMUM WAGE DEBATED
Last week two pieces of legislation addressing the subject of the minimum wage were introduced in the House of Representatives and assigned to the State Affairs Committee. Monday afternoon a hearing was held in the Old Supreme Court Chambers on HB 1300 and House Concurrent Resolution 1001. HB 1300 by Representatives Melton and Moreno would permit cities and towns to set their own minimum wages for people employed within their boundaries. HCR 1001 would raise the state minimum wage in steps from the current $8.23 per hour to $12.50 per hour in 2020. The bills revived an old debate between business and labor about the wisdom of minimum wages. Business says that minimum wage laws eliminate employment opportunities for low skill, or inexperienced workers; labor says that minimum wage increases have no effect on employment or job creation. Little was resolved after an extended debate Monday. Both measures passed the committee on party line votes and were sent to the floor for debate by the full House. Although they have almost no chance of passing, the measures give Democrats an opportunity to force recorded votes against the minimum wage by Republicans.

BUDGET BILL COMPLETED
The Long Appropriations bill was introduced Friday, March 27, four days later than scheduled. The final printed bill is striking in what it does not include. The bill proposes an increase of $184 million for Medicaid, $126 million to pay for the senior homestead exemption, $117 million for TABOR refunds to taxpayers and $100 million to higher education, among other things. What is remarkable is the absence of substantial money for public education to buy down the negative factor. From 2009, the public schools have experienced substantial reductions in basic per pupil revenue for instruction. The Governor proposed a substantial increase, at least $100 million, last fall. Yet, the failure of the General Assembly to come up with a plan to increase spending authority by reducing TABOR paybacks or making an enterprise of the hospital fee have limited the ability of the Joint Budget Committee to increase spending. The Long Bill will trigger a larger debate about the resources that the state has and how to increase them.

EDUCATION TAX CREDITS
Tuesday saw an extended debate on SB 45 by Senator Lundberg on the floor of the Senate, the third day on which the controversial proposal to provide tax credits to people who home school children or send children to private school was debated. Private school choice is widely supported by Republicans but generally opposed by Democrats. The debate ranged across a variety of education-related subjects, including discrimination, the fiscal impact of credits and separation of church and state. The bill passed the Senate Wednesday but faces much higher hurdles in the House.

If you have questions about any of the measures above, please do not hesitate to contact me at tamra@coloradoconcern.com

Warmly,

Tamra J. Ward
President and CEO
Colorado Concern

Archived legislative updates can be viewed here.

Committed | Member Survey Highlights

Member engagement is critical in setting our agenda. Each fall our CEOs, business and community leaders provide their feedback to a public policy survey.

Jobs and the Economy

  • Fifty-two percent believe Colorado’s economic situation will be better a year from now. Almost 43 percent feel the economy will be “about the same”.
  • Forty-eight percent feel operating their business in Colorado is about the same as operating in most states. Twenty-four percent feel it is harder to operate in Colorado..

Colorado Concern's Top Five Issues for Elected Officials

  • Recruit and retain companies/job growth strategies.
  • Strengthen the process to put measures on the Colorado ballot.
  • Ensure attempts to ban energy development are stopped.
  • Address issues in multifamily construction defect laws.
  • Further K-12 education reform.

Policy Issues Facing the State of interest to Colorado Concern members

  • Protecting Colorado's business climate by stopping bad legislation and supporting measures that enhance job growth.
  • Recruiting, vetting and electing statewide candidates who have an understanding of business issues.
  • Stopping any attempt to ban energy development in Colorado, legislatively or at the ballot box.

Health Care

  • Nearly all of Colorado Concern members provide health insurance benefits to their employees.
  • A full 76 percent of them have experienced health insurance premium increases in the past year.
  • The majority of members seeing increases experienced premium bumps of 10 percent or more. This has caused half of those members to make changes to how they provide health insurance coverage to their employees.

Elections

Frustration with partisanship is at an all-time high, both in Washington and here at home.

  • Sixty-seven percent of Colorado Concern’s members are interested in learning about modifying our current political primary candidate election process by allowing unaffiliated voters to directly participate in primary elections.
  • Seventy-six percent support or removing the use of the party caucus system.

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