In the News

Williams, DelGrosso make changes that help advance bills

Source: Denver Business Journal

About the only thing that House Bill 1046 and House Bill 1206 had in common was the likelihood they’d be controversial.

HB 1046, sponsored by Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, would ban employers from forcing workers or job applicants to give them access to their private social-media sites. HB 1206, sponsored by Rep.Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, was another in the long line of bills seeking to chip away at the hated business personal property tax.

But on Tuesday, the two bills found something else in common: Despite expectations, both passed the Colorado House unanimously and are on their way to the Senate. And both sponsors can take credit for making changes to the bills that helped to deflect potential detractors.

For HB 1046, Williams warded off potential business community opposition with two amendments to the measure. One exempted law-enforcement and corrections-department agencies from the ban, so that they can monitor employees’ potential interaction with criminals.

And the other, really key change removed an employee’s ability to file a lawsuit against an employer if they do attempt to force them to give up private social-media access. Instead, employees can only report such actions to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, which could fine employers $1,000 for a first offense and $5,000 for each subsequent violation.

“I think we got penalties in places where they’re fair and reasonable,” said Loren Furman, senior vice president of state and federal relations for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry.

DelGrosso had to woo a different crowd with HB 1206, which allows local governments to eliminate business personal property taxes as an incentive to keep companies that have an offer to move out of state. A number of legislators argue that those taxes on business equipment are key to the operations of counties, schools and special districts, and four other bills looking to reduce the business personal property tax burden have died so far this session.

But DelGrosso inserted an amendment to the bill that requires the businesses to produce evidence that they have a legitimate offer to move out of state. And he emphasized, in steering the bill through two House committees, that when cities or counties offer the tax break, it cannot cost school districts and other entities any revenue; it can cost only the local government making the offer.

“My thought is, it’s not state money. So, let the local governments put the guardrails on,” DelGrosso said. “It’s their dollars. They’re on the hook. Let them see the proof they want.”

Both success stories must face the Senate gauntlet now before heading to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk. But both are halfway through their journey.

Ed Sealover covers government, health care, tourism, airlines and hospitality for the Denver Business Journal and writes for the “Capitol Business” blog. Phone: 303-803-9229.