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Senate Committee Kills House Democrats’ Paid Family Medical-Leave Insurance Bill
Yesterday, the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed the House Democrats’ flagship bill of the session, HB-1001, which would have established a state-administered but worker-paid, partial-wage-replacement, family medical-leave program.
The measure, called the FAMLI bill, would have applied not only to all private-sector workers in Colorado, but also to employees of State Government and local governments: “(III) The State or a political subdivision of the state.”
It would have taxed Colorado workers between an estimated $568 million to $1.705 billion in just its first year of full operation. A worker could have taken up to 12 weeks off to care for a family member while receiving partial wage replacement. In an opinion article, an editorial writer for The Denver Post called it a “short-term disability insurance” policy.
The CACI Labor and Employment Council opposed HB-1001 just as it had opposed three similar proposals in prior sessions.
HB-1001, the first bill to be introduced by the House Democrats this session, was their lead-off proposal this year that was part of a package of bills targeting the so-called “income gap” by boosting benefits and earnings for low-income workers. The Democrats’ strategy to try to close the income gap is to increase mandates and fees on businesses. The bills, known at the State Capitol as “messaging bills,” are aimed at the party’s base during this election year even though they most likely will die in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Nonetheless, the bills are vigorously opposed by CACI and most business organizations because, in one way or another, the bills would increase the cost of doing business in Colorado.
This bill creates a paid family leave program as an enterprise and a Type 2 Transfer under the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Colorado employees will pay a monthly premium on their wages collected by employers through a payroll deduction. This premium funds a family medical leave benefit that may be taken concurrently with federal family leave. Eligible employees may collect a benefit for up to 12 weeks to care for a family member or designated person. The bill will increase state enterprise revenue and expenditures beginning in FY 2018-19, as well as state revenue from fines and state General Fund expenditures related to the tax benefit. The bill will also increase workload for local governments, school districts, and statutory public entities.
For information on HB-1001, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.
For additional information and news media coverage of this bill, read:
“Colorado legislative committee kills 4th attempt to pass family-leave bill,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, May 1st.
“House Committee Gives Initial OK to Family Medical Leave Bill,” The CACI Capitol Report, February 9th.
“The hard economics of paid family medical leave in Colorado,” opinion by Megan Schrader, The Denver Post, February 6th.
“Bill requiring paid leave for workers gets 1st OK in Colorado House,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, February 6th.
Here’s the April 27th Fiscal Note’s summary of the bill:
House Democrats’ Local Minimum-Wage Increase Bill Set for Senate Committee Hearing
A CACI-opposed bill, HB-1368, passed by the House that would allow local governments to raise the minimum wage higher than that of the state minimum wage is slated for a hearing Thursday before the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee after the Senate adjourns its morning Floor Session.
Summary of Legislation
Current state law prevents local governments from enacting minimum wage laws separate from those of the state. This bill repeals that provision and allows units of local government to establish minimum wages for individuals performing work while physically present within their jurisdictions through their governing body, an initiative, or referendum.
Colorado’s minimum wage. Prior to 2007, Colorado’s minimum wage law was set by federal law. In 2006, Colorado voters adopted an amendment to the state constitution that raised the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.85 per hour beginning in 2007, and from $2.13 to $3.02 less than the state minimum wage for tipped workers. In 2016, Colorado voters again amended the state constitution to increase the state minimum wage from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour beginning on January 1, 2017, after which it increases annually by $0.90 per hour until it reaches $12.00 per hour on January 1, 2020. Beginning January 1, 2021, it will be adjusted each year thereafter by the increase in the Consumer Price Index. The federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 per hour, and $2.13 for tipped workers.
The bill’s Fiscal Note provides an analysis of the introduced bill, which was not amended in the House:
The bill is part of a package of bills this session—as in past sessions–targeting the income gap advocated by the House Democrats that statehouse analysts call “messaging bills” aimed at the party’s base during an election year. As such, the bills are opposed by most business organizations, including CACI. In one way or another, these bills would increase the cost of doing business in Colorado.
The Colorado Restaurant Association, a CACI member, testified against the HB-1368 before the House Local Government Committee on April 18th. Another opponent of the bill is the South Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, also a CACI member.
A major concern of CACI’s with HB-1368 is that businesses that operate in multiple local jurisdictions would be hampered by a maze of different minimum wages. Other concerns of many businesses include:
- Businesses will try to automate tasks to reduce the cost of higher labor;
- Businesses may be persuaded to relocate to communities where the minimum wage is lower;
- Businesses would have to pay different wages to workers for the same job if they have operations in multiple, nearby jurisdictions that have different minimum wages.
- Low-income workers may lose jobs or have their hours reduced by employers because of higher labor costs; and
- Employers may choose to not add workers to expand.
The Committee passed the bill on a partisan vote of 7-to-6, which sent the bill to the House Floor for Second Reading debate.
For information on HB-1368, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.
For news media coverage of this bill, read:
“Colorado House passes bill to let local governments raise their minimum wage,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 26th.
“Legislature advances bill to let Colorado cities raise minimum wage,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 19th.
“Colorado House Democrats introduce bills to try to narrow wage gap,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 10th.
CACI-Backed Bill to Increase Air-Quality Permit Fees Moving Quickly
Last November, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) made a presentation to the CACI Energy and Environment Council indicating that it needed an approximate 40 percent increase in air-quality permit fees to meet the needs of the program.
Given that there has not been an increase in these fees in the past ten years, CACI members recognized that some increase in fees might be warranted
CACI members, however, wanted more justification for (a) the size of the increase and (b) a stakeholder process to implement improvements and efficiencies in the Department’s operations
As a result, CACI has been working with other stakeholders and the Department to:
- Reduce the size of the fee increase, and
- Develop a stakeholder process to implement improvements and efficiencies.
HB-1400, which was introduced April 18th, is the result of that work HB-1400 increases the fees by 25 percent and includes a Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment each year for the next ten years as well as outlining a stakeholder process to implement improvements and efficiencies.
The House co-sponsors are Majority Leader KC Becker (D-Boulder) and Representative Hugh McKean (R-Loveland). The Senate co-sponsors are Senator Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) and Senator Cheri Jahn (Unaffiliated—Wheat Ridge).
With bipartisan support, the bill has moved quickly. It passed the House Finance Committee (amended) on April 23rd, the House Appropriations Committee on April 25th, House Second Reading (amended) on April 26th and House final, Third Reading on April 27th.
In the Senate, the bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee, where it is scheduled to be heard tomorrow morning when the Senate adjourns its Floor Session.
Here’s the legislature’s summary of the introduced bill:
Current law sets the fees paid by stationary sources of air pollutants by statute and allows the air quality control commission to set the fees below the cap by rule as needed to comply with TABOR. The bill increases the statutory caps as follows:
Type of Fee Current Cap New Cap
Air pollutant emission notices$152.90$191.13
Per-ton fee for regulated pollutants$ 22.90$ 28.63
Per-ton fee for hazardous pollutants$152.90$191.13
Per-hour permit processing fee$ 76.45$ 95.56
The maximum statutory fees automatically increase by the rate of inflation on each January 1 from 2019 to 2028, but the actual fees collected will be set at or below the statutory cap by the commission by rule. The division of administration in the department of public health and environment shall prioritize its use of the revenues generated by the fee increases to reduce permit processing times.
The division will:
- Engage affected industries to identify and assess measures to improve billing practices, increase accounting transparency, and assess potential efficiency improvements with respect to division activities financed by the fees; and
- Report to the general assembly through 2022 to provide status updates on the stakeholder process.
The bill appropriates $1,555,293 to the department to implement the act.
The bill’s Fiscal Note contains further analysis and details about HB-1400.
For more information about HB-1400, contact Bill Skewes, CACI Contract Lobbyist.