Colorado Capitol Report

CACI Supports Amicus Brief on Marijuana Case before the Colorado Supreme Court

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State Policy News

CACI Supports Amicus Brief on Marijuana Case before the Colorado Supreme Court

An amicus curiae brief supported by CACI and other business organizations has been filed with the Colorado Supreme Court that supports the firing of a medical-marijuana patient employed by Dish Network, LLC, because the worker tested positive for marijuana.

The brief asks the Court to “recognize the importance of employers retaining the discretion to employ a safe, productive and accountable workforce.”

“Colorado employers must have the flexibility to enforce drug policies that ensure workplace safety,” said Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, “We support the Colorado Court of Appeals’ ruling and an employer’s right to terminate if a worker violates a no-tolerance drug policy.”  Last year, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld Dish Network’s firing of Brandon Coats.

Here’s how the Court announced on January 27th that it had accepted the case:

No. 13SC394

Court of Appeals Case Nos. 12CA595 & 12CA1704


Brandon Coats,



Dish Network, LLC.

Petition for Writ of Certiorari GRANTED. EN BANC.

Summary of Issues:

Whether the Lawful Activities Statute, section 24-34-402.5, protects employees from discretionary discharge for lawful use of medical marijuana outside the job where the use does not affect job performance.

Whether the Medical Marijuana Amendment makes the use of medical marijuana “lawful” and confers a right to use medical marijuana to persons lawfully registered with the state.

JUSTICE MÁRQUEZ does not participate.

The case, Coats vs. Dish Network, has drawn widespread interest because it involves Amendment 20 that concerned medical marijuana.

The Colorado Civil Justice League (CCJL) organized a business coalition to support the drafting and filing of the brief by Chris Ottelle, a Partner with CACI member Husch Blackwell LLP.  Chris is a member of the CACI Labor and Employment Council.

CACI and CCJL are mutually affiliated.  Other supporters of the brief include the following CACI members:  Associated General Contractors of Colorado, Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors, Colorado Contractors Association and Mountain States Employers Council.

An amicus curiae brief is a court filing by an individual or an organization who, although not a party to the case before a court, believes that the court’s decision may affect him or her or the organization.  “Amicus curiae” means, in Latin, “friend of the court.”

Meanwhile, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has filed a brief that argues that workers do not have the right to use marijuana off the job.  The Attorney General argues that allowing workers to use marijuana when off the job “would have a “profound and detrimental impact” on Colorado employers.

The Court has not announced when it will hear oral arguments on the case.  For an update on the case and the issues that surround it, read:

Colorado attorney general backs firing of medical marijuana patient,” by John Ingold, The Denver Post, June 4th.

Colorado Supreme Court to review firing over after-hours marijuana use,” by John Ingold, The Denver Post, January 27th.

For more information on the case, contact Loren at 303.866.9642.  Loren is President of the CCJL Board of Directors.

News Media Coverage

Below is recent news-media coverage of business, political, policy and governmental issues of interest to CACI:

Hickenlooper vetoes bill intended to create transparency in road deals,” by Kurtis Lee and Mote Whaley, The Denver Post, June 4th.

Federal funds will help Colorado promote tourism in flood-ravaged areas,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, June 3rd.

Senator asks Pinnacol Assurance not to raise premiums next year,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, June 2nd.

Seattle to enact $15 minimum wage,” by Reid Wilson, The Washington Post, June 2nd.

Opening date set for Denver satellite patent office,” by Mark Harden, The Denver Business Journal, May 30th.

Manufacturing Initiative News

U.S. Manufacturing Sector Grows in May

On Monday, the Institute for Supply Management issued its monthly Report on Business showing general growth among American manufacturing. Most of the measures used by the ISM showed continued steady growth, many for the last 11 months or more

The report did highlight two areas of concern related to raw materials pricing and supply tightness and shortages.  Seventeen of the 18 manufacturing industries included in the analysis reported growth last month with Furniture and Related Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and Primary Metals leading the way.

The report shows growth in the overall economy for 60 straight months and growth in manufacturing for the last 12 months.  According to the report, the annualized growth rate from January through May 2014 shows a 3.5 percent increase in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This report came at the same time as other good news for manufacturers.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the labor productivity numbers for the manufacturing sector up to 3.8 percent growth for the Second Quarter. The BLS also revised the output numbers up to 2.2 percent growth.  Unit labor costs decreased 0.4 percent.

Finally, Automatic Data Processing (ADP) recorded 10,000 new manufacturing jobs in May, which was up from a monthly average of just 2,000 new employees for the four months of 2014. And new factory orders increased for the third straight month with a gain of 0.7 percent in April.

Federal Policy News

BIPAC Endorses U.S. Congressman Mike Coffman for Re-Election


From left to right: Leah Curtsinger, CACI; Jenn Penn, BIPAC; Loren Furman, CACI; Congressman Mike Coffman; and Chuck Berry, CACI.


On Wednesday at the CACI Office, the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) announced its endorsement of Republican Congressman Mike Coffman.

In a news media release, BIPAC said that it was endorsing Congressman Coffman because he “will be the strongest advocate for growing America’s economy.”

Greg Casey, BIPAC CEO, was quoted as saying, “Rep. Coffman has fought for issues important to his district and the economy, including aerospace and defense funding, immigration reform and reducing the debt.  Rep. Coffman, a veteran and small business owner, will be the strongest advocate for growing America’s economy, creating jobs, and increasing economic growth.”

Congressman Coffman is engaged in a close race for the Sixth Congressional House District seat with former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a Democrat.

BIPAC was represented at the announcement by Jenn Penn, BIPAC Mountain Regional Vice President.  BIPAC’s Action Fund will make a contribution to Representative Coffman’s campaign.


The Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) was founded in 1963 as “an independent, bipartisan group,” to serve as a political action arm for American business and industry.  BIPAC provides its members with the tools and strategies they need to keep their employees abreast of the key policy decisions impacting their livelihood and opportunities to get involved in the public policy process.

BIPAC helps state business organizations like CACI impact political outcomes beyond the Washington, D.C., “Beltway” through the nation’s largest, employee-focused grassroots network in the states.  BIPAC provides meaningful political analysis to keep members informed, crafts forward-thinking election strategies and deploys cutting-edge, political-action committee and grassroots tools-and-technology to power the business community’s engines of advocacy.

Colorado Prosperity Project

BIPAC partnered with CACIs some years ago to deploy the Colorado Prosperity Project (CO P2).

Obama Administration, EPA Release Carbon Emission Reduction Proposal

On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its new carbon reduction plan, requiring carbon emissions to be reduced 30 percent by the year 3030, with most states would be starting towards that goal from 2005 emission levels.

The “cost” of the plan will be $8 billion, but that amount has already been reduced by the amount of savings predicted to be seen by efficiencies implemented over the next 16 years.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report showing the economic impact of the proposed rule, citing an economic contraction of $50 billion per year in the U.S., lost jobs near 440,000 each year and $17 billion in additional electricity costs for consumers next year (a 7 percent increase in addition to a 14 percent increase predicted for 2014-2020 electricity rates).

Under the Administration’s plan, emission reductions are not negotiable, but flexibility would be given to states in how emissions goals are reached (i.e. through tailored efficiency plans, statewide or regional “cap-and-trade” programs, higher renewable mandates, etc.).  The proposal uses a four-prong approach to:

  • Increase efficiency of all energy producers,
  • Increase efficiency of existing power plants,
  • Transition power plants from coal to natural gas and
  • Increase renewables.

States would be required to submit a carbon reduction plan by the start of 2015, implementing by the end of 2015.  States in a region could partner to get a one-year extension, but it is worth noting some states will be required to meet much higher standards (i.e. Texas will likely be required to start from 2011 or 2012 emissions standards), and states will be divided into regions where existing renewables standards may be applied to surrounding states.

In response to the proposal, critics are calling for less impact on the U.S. economy and greater global buy-in for reducing carbon emissions.

Carbon emissions worldwide are expected to go up 30 percent next year alone.  Reducing U.S. carbon emission 30 percent by 2030 will only reduce the U.S. carbon footprint by 1.4 percent, and the U.S. currently represents 4 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Colorado Anticipates Impact of EPA Proposal

The EPA’s carbon-emission reduction proposal will have a unique impact in each state, and businesses and political leaders in Colorado are currently assessing what it will mean here.

The general consensus is that Colorado is well-positioned to meet the new requirements, having adopted increasingly high renewable energy standards over the past decade, now at 30 percent for investor-owned utilities and 20 percent for rural electric providers by 2020 and passing the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act in 2010.

Indeed, Colorado reforms likely guided development of the proposal, with the state specifically mentioned in the plan.

Uncertainty remains, however, as to the costs and impacts.  As many Colorado companies work to determine what the proposal means for business operations, others look to assess the impact to the state’s economy as a whole.  Increases to the cost of electricity threaten to negatively affect such Colorado industries as manufacturing, and additional job-and-production losses in coal-producing areas of the state raise concerns in rural communities.

As Colorado companies determine their next steps, all eyes will be on the legal experts and the courts as the EPA’s legal authority in the matter is questioned.  A legal challenge would likely assert that EPA has no authority to regulate CO2 emissions from existing, coal-fueled electric generators, and that, even if they did have that authority, the EPA would lack the authority to dictate to states the level of emission reductions that each state must make.  Many questions remain for Colorado and the rest of the country as the proposal moves forward.