Colorado Capitol Report

Only Three More Working Days until Legislature Adjourns!

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Only Three More Working Days until Legislature Adjourns!

Today is the 115st day of the 120-day long, first regular session of the 70th General Assembly.

The legislature must adjourn by midnight, Wednesday, May 6th.  There are only three working days left in the session after today.

As of this morning, legislators have introduced 676 bills: 392 in the House and 289 in the Senate.

As of Tuesday, CACI’s legislative agenda stood at 55 bills plus one House Concurrent Resolution.

For information on CACI’s lobbying agenda, contact Loren Furman, Senior Vice President, State and Federal Governmental Relations, at 303.866.9642.

In addition to the bills on the CACI legislative agenda, the CACI lobbying team monitors many more bills for their potential impact on the business community.

House Kills Democrats Bill to Greatly Expand Overtime Pay

Sponsored by progressive House Democrats, a controversial late bill that would have greatly extended overtime pay to many salaried, professional workers died in the House Monday.  The bill was called the “Colorado Overtime Fairness for Employees Act.”

Technically, the House “laid over” the bill until June 21st at the request of the sponsor.  Since the legislature adjourns May 6th, the bill is dead–at least for this session.

HB-1331 was sponsored by Representative Max Tyler (D-Lakewood), and one of the 13 other co-sponsors was Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder).

It’s clear that the bill was yet-another tactic in the progressive House Democrats’ strategy to target businesses as one more highly visible way to reduce income inequality in Colorado by increasing the income of workers at the expense of companies.

HB-1331 would have changed the minimum-wage standard for when hourly employees must receive overtime, for “exempt” (salaried) employees and “non-exempt” (hourly) employees, making the new standard three times the current annual state minimum wage of $8.23 per hour.

CACI’s Labor and Employment Council voted to oppose HB-1331 because it would have changed decades of labor-law, harmed workers and added more burdens to doing business in Colorado.

The political reality facing Representative Tyler was that some members of the House Democratic caucus would very likely have voted against the bill on final, recorded Third Reading, thus killing the bill.

Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, and Larry Hudson, CACI contract lobbyist, worked hard, along with CACI’s business allies, to make sure that the moderate House Democrats, who had concerns about the bill, understood the drastic nature of the bill and its potentially harmful impact on Colorado firms.

On April 20th, the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee amended and approved the bill on a party-line, 6-5 voteLeah Curtsinger, Federal Policy Representative, testified against the bill before the Committee.

For more information on this bill, read:

House Democrats Introduce Bill to Require Overtime for Professionals, Supervisors, Executives and Administrative Personnel Earning Less than $51,355.20 Annually,” The CACI Colorado Capitol Report, April 3rd.


News Media Coverage

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

Most tort reform efforts fizzle at Colorado Capitol,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, May 1st.

Colorado Senate secretary stepping down after 35 years at the Capitol,” by Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post, April 30th.

Affordable housing heats up House: ‘You don’t get it,’” by Joey Bunch, The Denver Post, April 30th.

Competing Colorado road-funding bills on collision course at legislature,’ By Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 30th.

Hickenlooper-backed high funding measure introduced in Legislature,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 30th.

Effort to create retirement-savings task force blocked in Colorado Legislature,” by Ed Sealover, the Denver Business Journal, April 29th.

Chances of passing $3.5 billion Colorado road funding plan turn bleak,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 29th.

Rep. John Buckner to miss rest of session due to illness,” by Joey Bunch, The Denver Post, April 28th.

Denver could be the next city to push for local construction-defects reform,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 28th.

Construction-defects reform bill dies in Colorado Legislature,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 28th.

Strong Sisters: An upcoming film on women and Colorado politics,” by Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post, April 27th.

Homeless ‘right to rest’ measure blocked despite camping-ban fairness complaints,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 28th.

Campaign cash flows to Colorado lawmakers who will decide construction-defects bills’ fate,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 27th.

Legislators reach out to ‘rural Colorado’ after landslide to the right,” by Joey Bunch, The Denver Post, April 26th.

As session wraps up, major work remains for Colorado lawmakers,” by John Frank, The Denver Post, April 25th.

GMO labeling bill is a mixed bag,” editorial, The Denver Post, April 25th.

Colorado oil and gas task force recommendations are part of state budget,” by Cathy Proctor, The Denver Business Journal, April 24th.

Hickenlooper signs budget, urges action on his transportation-funding plan,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, April 24th.

Manufacturing Initiative

“Made in Colorado Forum” Highlights Colorado Businesses

Yesterday, Colorado Biz Magazine hosted the third annual “Made in Colorado Forum, which drew more than 250 business leaders, including many of the state’s premier manufacturers.

The afternoon session included networking, opening remarks from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, expo booths and programming specifically for microbrewers.

Jonathan Vaughters, CEO, Slipstream Sports and Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling, delivered the keynote speech.  He offered advice for working together as a team, building a culture of ethics and integrity, incentivizing performance, the importance of logistics, and managing people with large egos.  Vaughters founded the professional cycling team in 2003 in Boulder, growing it into a $30 million business with operations in Colorado and Spain.  The team was founded on a strong belief that success is possible without “doping”.

Governor Hickenlooper

Governor Hickenlooper

In his opening remarks, Governor Hickenlooper referred to manufacturing as the backbone of the American economy.  He proudly said that Colorado is leading the way as an innovation hub for American manufacturers.  The Governor cited several success stories, including the state’s Advanced Industry Accelerator program and the SMART grant, a $6.6 million-grant awarded to Colorado last year by the U.S. Department of Defense to improve the state’s manufacturing infrastructure.  The Governor also mentioned areas where there is still work to be done, including making the state easier for entrepreneurs to build businesses and ensuring an adequate workforce.

Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion About Workforce Development

The event also included a panel discussion about workforce development: Dr. Stephen Jordan, president of Metropolitan State University of Denver; Noel Ginsberg, CEO of Intertech Plastics; Chelsea Grant, Regional Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Wolf Robotics; and Joe Saboe, Director of Career Pathways for Denver Public Schools.  The panel discussed the value of real-world experience through internships and the need for meaningful, consistent collaboration between industry and education.

Bill Supporting Businesses Against Patent Trolls Close To Finish Line

HB15-1063, Prohibiting Communications Concerning Patents, brought by Rep. Pabon and Sen. Balmer has passed unanimously out of the House, was unopposed by the Senate Finance and the Senate Appropriations Committees and was referred this morning to the Senate’s consent calendar.  With just three days left of session, the prospects look good for 1063.

1063 reaches a common-sense and balanced approach to protecting both businesses and legitimate patent holders.  Previously, “patent trolls” would typically send demand letters telling businesses they must either pay a licensing fee for the product being used or risk being taken to court for infringement.  In the past, these bad actors have demanded thousands of dollars per alleged violation and too often, businesses found it was easier to pay the extorted “licensing fee” than to hire legal counsel to determine if the allegation was founded, legal or ignorable.

By using the Colorado Attorney General as a resource to determine if a demand letter is legal, 1063 ensures businesses will be able to use the state’s expertise without having to expend precious time, energy and capital against patent trolls, while helping with compliance if a demand is shown to be legitimate.  The best economic estimates show patent trolls are costing our U.S. economy $30 billion/year and that the number of frivolous demand letters sent increased 410% from 2005 to 2011.  Passing 1063 ensures Colorado citizens and businesses have a voice against these harmful patent trolls.

Specifically, 1063 ensures that if a demand letter is sent, it must:

  • Include the patent number (trolls previously didn’t included this because it forced businesses or a company to contact the troll),
  • Include which patent is allegedly infringed  upon (adds clarity to the demand),
  • Be re: a current, non-expired patent (trolls were notorious for collecting licensing fees on “licenses” for expired patents or patents not legally held)
  • Be the legal holder of the patent, and;
  • If threatening a lawsuit, court papers must have been filed.

Assuming the bill is signed into law before Sine Die (May 6), 1063 will be effective August 5th, 2015.