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Colorado Capitol Report

Contribute Now: Campaign Launched to Defeat Amendment 69, the $25 billion, Single-Payer, Health-Care Plan


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State Policy News

Contribute Now: Campaign Launched to Defeat Amendment 69, the $25 billion, Single-Payer, Health-Care Plan

Yesterday, a public-private coalition launched the campaign to defeat Amendment 69, the November ballot initiative that would create a quasi-public, single-payer health-care plan that would impose a $25 billion tax on employers, workers, and taxpayers.

Called “Coloradans for Coloradans,” the campaign organization’s co-chairs include Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter.  The organization is backed by a coalition of business organizations, public officials, and community and civic leaders.

In November, the CACI Board of Directors voted to oppose Amendment 69 just days after Secretary of State Wayne Williams qualified the ballot initiative for the November ballot.

CACI urges its members to contribute to Coloradans for Coloradans. Contributions can be mailed to:

Coloradans for Coloradans
1660 Lincoln Street
Suite 1800
Denver CO 80624

Contribution can also be wired electronically to Coloradans for Coloradans.

CACI members who have questions about contributing to Coloradans for Coloradans may email Katie Behnke or call her at 303.807.4583.

Coloradans for Coloradans is an issue committee, #20165030100, registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.  An issue committee may receive unlimited contributions.


Labor & Employment Council Confronts Growing List of Employment Legislation

Senator Chris Holbert (R)

Senator Chris Holbert (R)

On Wednesday of this week, CACI’s Labor & Employment Council, chaired by Stacey Campbell, Campbell Litigation, P.C., had the opportunity to hear from the new Chairman of the Senate Business & Labor Committee – Senator Chris Holbert.  Senator Holbert discussed his thoughts on the types of bills that he anticipates his committee will hear during the legislative session, his general approach for chairing the committee, and the positions he will likely take on the legislation that the CACI Labor & Employment Council has discussed.

Colorado’s Legislative Session started on January 13th, and since that time there has been a growing number of labor and employment bills introduced.  During this week’s Council meeting, the Council took positions on several of those bills which included:

SB 76 by Senator Ulibarri & Rep. DelGrosso

HB 1114 by Rep. DelGrosso & Sen. Ulibarri

  • Both bills do exactly the same thing and would eliminate the requirement for employers to complete and maintain affidavits affirming they have not hired any undocumented immigrants.
  • Labor & Employment Council Position – SUPPORT,

HB 1001 by Representatives Danielson & Buckner

  • Bill requires that any prime and subcontractors that bid for state contracts be in compliance with state and federal equal pay standards.  It also requires that the business maintain information about their employees such as race, ethnicity, age and national origin.
  • Labor & Employment Council Position – OPPOSE

HB 1002 by Representative Buckner & Senator Kerr

  • In 2009, CACI reached a compromise with proponents on legislation creating the Parental Leave Act.  The legislation required employers with 50+ employees to provide 18 hours of leave per academic year to workers to attend parent-teacher conferences, or meetings regarding special education, dropout prevention, attendance, truancy and disciplinary issues.  The law expired in 2015.  This Session, the legislation was re-introduced and was amended to align with the 2009 Parental Leave Act that CACI compromised on during that time.
  • Labor & Employment Council Position – Neutral

HB 1154 by Representative DelGrosso

  • Bill is in response to recent NLRB decision and clarifies that the definition of “employer” only includes a person that possesses authority to control an employee’s terms and conditions of employment and exercises that authority directly.  The bill also states that a franchisor is not considered an employer unless the Court finds that the franchisor some control over the franchisee or its employees.
  • Labor & Employment Council Position – Support

Key Legislative Committee Chairs Share 2016 Outlook with CACI Policy Councils

Energy & Environment Council:

Daniel O'Connell, CACI, John Jacus, Davis Graham and Stubbs, LLP, Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R)

Daniel O’Connell, CACI, John Jacus, Davis Graham and Stubbs, LLP, Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R)

 

This week, the CACI Energy & Environment Council hosted Senator Jerry Sonnenberg, Chair of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee at the first council meeting of 2016.  Senator Sonnenberg (R-SD-1-Sterling) is a rancher from Sterling, who brings deep leadership experience and longtime expertise on agriculture, land, water, and energy law and policy issues to the Colorado legislature.  Sen. Sonnenberg  updated the Council membership regarding his priorities for the 2016 session, that included engaging on pressing water issues stemming from the recently finalized State Water Plan, preventing the creation of any new regulatory burdens for Colorado industries, and ensuring that the Colorado legislature has the opportunity to weigh in on the State Plan for implementing the federal Clean Power Plan in Colorado.  Sen. Sonnenberg indicated that particularly in a time when commodities and oil and gas prices are so low, it is important to support key economic drivers, rather than create new regulatory burdens.

Energy & Environment Council Positions:

HB-1004 by Reps. Winter & Arndt
Measurable Goals in State Climate Action Plan Oppose
This legislation seeks to amend the State Climate Action Plan to include specific measurable goals for emissions reductions and deadlines compliance.

HB-1004 by Reps. Winter & Arndt
Extending Petroleum Storage Tank Fund Support
This legislation extends the authorization for this program to 2023, which would otherwise sunset in 2018.

HB-1071 by Rep. Windholz 
County Initiative Powers Oppose
This legislation would authorize individual counties to conduct a ballot initiative process on local government laws and policies.

HB-1088 by Rep. Dore 
Fire District Impact Fee New Development Oppose
This legislation would authorize local fire districts to impose an impact fee on new development within their jurisdiction.

HB-1091 by Rep. Thurlow/Sen. Sonnenberg
Biennial Filing for Rate-Regulated Utilities Support
This legislation seeks to amend specific filing requirements, processes, and deadlines for utilities regulated by the public utilizes commission.

SB-046 by Sen. Cooke  
Retain State Flexibility in Clean Power Plan Support
This legislation would require the Air Quality Control Commission to retain the maximum amount of state control in responding to the Clean Power Plan; legislative oversight of the state plan for CPP implementation; and repeal of state regulations should the federal CPP be repealed or struck down in the courts.

Health Care Council:

The CACI Health Care Council also held its first meeting of 2016, hosting key health committee chairs from both the House and the Senate.  Representative Beth McCann (D-HD-8-Denver) who chairs the House Committee on Health, Insurance, and Environment updated the committee on a range of issues she expects to see in her committee this year.  She noted that the Colorado Legislature must continue to address pressing issues related to state level health reforms, the price of health care, and the impact that public health programs have on the Colorado State Budget.  Senator Kevin Lundberg (R-SD-15-Berthod) also attended the luncheon panel discussion.  Sen. Lundberg highlighted his priorities that included addressing scope of practice issues faced by all levels of health services providers that could aid efforts to increase access and control the costs of health care, as well as ensuring that the Colorado legislature is working to create choices within the health care market place and competition within the health sector.

CACI Health Care Council Positions:

HB-1047 by Rep. Buck & Sen.
Newell Multi-State Physician Licensure Support
This legislation would authorize Colorado to enter into the multistate compact regarding physician licensure.

HB-1107 by Rep. Joshi 
Timeframes for DORA Disciplinary Proceedings Support
This legislation would create a 7 year statute of limitation on administrative complaints filed against persons regulated by the Department of Regulatory Agencies.


House Committee Passes Amended Parental-Leave Bill & CACI Goes “Neutral”

The House Education Committee Wednesday passed on a party-line, six-to-five vote an amended bill, HB-1002, that would generally reinstate the 2009 mandated parental-leave law that “sunsetted” last year, expiring on September 1st.

Because of the amendment, CACI has moved from a position of opposing the introduced bill to a “neutral position.”  A neutral position means CACI will neither lobby to support the bill nor lobby to oppose it.

CACI members have said that they have adapted to the 2009 law in terms of changes to human resource and personnel policies.  Consequently, CACI sees no pressing need to oppose HB-1002 if it remains in the amended version similar to the 2009 bill.

The bill is now scheduled for Second Reading debate on the House Floor on Monday.

This year, the House sponsor is Representative Janet Buckner (D-Aurora).  Representative Buckner was appointed by a House District 40 vacancy committee last June following the death last May of her husband, Representative John Buckner.

HB-1002 was the second bill introduced by the House Democratic majority and thus indicates the importance that the Democratic Caucus places on the bill.

The 2016 introduced bill expanded the 2009 bill, however, by allowing a parent to take leave to attend academic activities for preschoolers and expanded the types of academic activities for which leave is allowable to include meetings with school counselors or to attend academic achievement ceremonies.  The introduced bill also instructed schools and school districts to communicate the details of the law to parents to make them aware of it.

This expansion of HB-1002 beyond the scope of the 2009 bill concerned CACI.  After the Education Committee’s Monday hearing on HB-1002, CACI’s Loren Furman talked about the bill with a reporter from The Aurora Sentinel:

We would oppose the bill if (Rep. Buckner’s) amendment doesn’t get on the bill, because we feel strongly that the language that we negotiated in 2009 is appropriate between employers and employees and that it works,” said Loren Furman, senior vice president of state and federal relations with the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, a group that opposed last year’s parental involvement bill. “We want to be really careful with how broadly these laws are drafted.”

Furman said that CACI would remain neutral on this year’s version of the bill as long as Buckner’s amendment remains intact and the measure continues to closely align with its 2009 counterpart.

The amendment, L003, resulted from discussion between Representative Buckner, on the one hand, and CACI and its business allies, on the other.

The bill was first heard by the Committee on Monday.  Although no one from the business community testified in opposition to the bill, a large number of advocates testified in support of the bill.  The Committee approved the amendment, L003, to which CACI had agreed, on a six-to-three vote.  Representatives Kevin Priola (R-Henderson) and Paul Lundeen (R-Monument) were excused.

Representative JoAnn Windholz (R-Commerce City) offered an unforeseen amendment, however, to remove from the bill a provision that required schools and school districts to inform parents about the law.  The amendment died for lack of a “second” after it was “moved.”

At that point, because of procedural questions, the Committee Chair, Representative Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), laid over the bill until Wednesday without the Committee taking final action on the proposal.

On Wednesday, an amendment by Representative Windholz and a motion to refer the bill to the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee by Representative Jim Wilson (R-Salida) both failed.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the CACI Labor and Employment Council voted to formally take a neutral position provided the bill remains in the amended form as CACI had negotiated with Representative Buckner.

The 2009 Bill

In 2009, both chambers of the legislature were controlled by Democrats, who passed the “Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act.”

The 2009 legislation, HB-1057, was the result of a compromise between CACI and its business allies and the bill’s advocates.  The compromises reach by the bill’s sponsors and CACI resulted in the final version of HB-1057 that reduced the administrative burden on employers by limiting the range of activities for which the employee could take time off to attend.

The 2009 Bill and the 2016 Introduced Bill

Here’s the description first of the 2009’s HB-1057 and then of this session’s HB-1002 as contained in HB-1002’s fiscal note:

Summary of Legislation

This bill reenacts and modifies the Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act (Act) that was originally established by House Bill 09-1057 and repealed on September 1, 2015. Prior to its repeal, the 2009 Act required employers with at least 50 employees to permit non-supervisory employees to take unpaid leave to attend certain academic activities for children enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Leave was to be taken in increments of three hours or less, not to exceed six hours per month and 18 hours per year. Employees were required to provide at least one week’s notice of the leave except in emergency situations. It also allowed employers and employees to reach agreements wherein employees could make up the lost work time during the same work week.

Employers were to provide proportional leave for part-time employees and allowed to limit the leave in certain circumstances, such as to avoid endangering the safety of others or halting service or production. Employers were authorized to require written verification from a school or school district, and employees were required to attempt to schedule academic activities outside of work hours.

House Bill 16-1002 incorporates the provisions of the 2009 Act, expands the types of activities for which leave may be taken to include meetings with school counselors, and makes the school activities of preschoolers eligible for parental leave. The bill also requires that all school districts and each institute charter school make parents and the community at large aware of the availability of parental leave through website postings and other communication channels. To the extent possible, the Colorado Advisory Council for Parent Involvement in Education is also directed to provide information about the new law.

2015: The “Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act” Sunsets

Last year, majority the majority House Democrats, to prevent the “Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act” from “sunsetting,” sought to expand the 2009 bill by passing a measure that, among other things, removed the sunset provision and expanded coverage to include pre-kindergarten children.

CACI opposed HB-1221 to expand and continue the “Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act.”  Although the House passed HB-1221, it died in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.  The sunset provision of the 2009 law then terminated the law on September 1st.

For more information about HB-1002, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice president, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.

For news media coverage and more information about this bill, read:

Buckner pushes for parental rights despite early partisan quarreling,” by Quincy Snowdon, The Aurora Sentinel, January 26th.

House Sends CACI-Opposed Parental-Leave Bill to Senate,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, March 13, 2015.

House Approves CACI-Opposed Parental-Leave Bill on Second Reading,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, March 6, 2015.


Earn CLE Credits at CACI Council Meetings

Are you looking for a simple way to earn CLE credits? CACI has your answer.  Earning CLE credits is just one of the many benefits of being a CACI member.

Attorneys attending a Labor & Employment or an Energy & Environment council may be eligible to receive one CLE credit for a fee of $20.  Each Council will meet at Noon at the CACI offices throughout the session and lunch is served at each meeting.  In addition to the opportunity for CACI members to add their expertise and judgment to our policy-making and influence legislation and regulations that impact business, you can also earn CLE credits at the same time. Please contact Laura Moss at LMoss@CoChamber.com or (303)866-9652 for assistance with CLE credits.


News Media Coverage

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

House Democrats join national campaign for equal pay,” by Joey Bunch, The Denver Post, January 28th.

Colorado U.S. Senate contest reflects GOP presidential campaign,” by John Franks, The Denver Post, January 26th.

Colorado Tourism Day at Capitol highlights budget needs,” by Monica Mendoza, The Denver Business Journal, January 26th.

Oil under $30 a barrel caries dangers for Colorado economy,” by Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, January 26th.

Rep. Clarice Navarro: Prioritize roads with existing taxes,” by Joey Bunch, The Denver Post, January 25th.

Tim Leonard picked to fill Rep. Jon Keyser’s seat,” by Joey Bunch, The Denver Post, January 25th.

Xcel lays out sweeping plan for Colorado’s energy future,” by Cathy Proctor, The Denver Business Journal, January 25th.

Colorado mountain residents struggle to pay for health insurance,” by David Olinger, The Denver Post, January 24th.

Federal court hears arguments in ongoing TABOR lawsuit,” by John Frank, The Denver Post, January 21st.


Federal Policy News

What You & Your Business Should Know About Congress’ Tax Extenders Package

In mid-December, parallel negotiations came together to complete an “extenders” package.  Previous months’ debates focused on how to make popular tax extensions permanent vs. more long-term, plus the reality of how to pay for those provisions — permanent or not.  This fight took a step in the right direction and brings more predictability to the business community.  Spending hawks maintain that the measures were fiscally irresponsible.

Over the last decade, Congress has become increasingly unapologetic about allowing tax provisions to expire.  Often renewing credits when facing other “must-pass” legislation, then retroactively applying credits to the previous year.  While provisions were technically getting across the finish line in the past, this uncertainty hurt businesses by leaving them without guarantees a tax provision or credit would be available.  Tax preparers had little time to learn new forms and manage filings, and these retroactive efforts left the federal government scrambling to educate consumers or manage compliance.

The good news is that after months of work this summer and fall, Congress was able to identify the most important tax credits for both parties and come to an agreement.  The bad news: the below tax extensions increase spending by $160 billion over 10 years, without offsets and Congress will need to address expiring tax provisions once again at the end of 2016.  CACI will be working hard in 2016 to ensure our Congressional delegation understands the importance of reliable tax credits as a tool for businesses to plan and grow for the future, in addition to the need for responsible government spending.

Continue reading below for a summary of tax provisions included in the 2015 package:

Permanent approval:

  • Research and development tax credit (a.k.a. R&D credit)
  • 179 “pass-through” expensing for businesses

Two-year extension:  (One year retroactively, and for the 2016 year)

  • Exempts subpart F income for active financing
  • Earned IncomeTax Credit (EITC)
  • ChildTax Credit
  • American OpportunityTax Credit

Five year extensions:

  • Bonus depreciation (a.k.a. 50% expensing)
  • New MarketTax Credit, Work Opportunity Tax Credit
  • Wind Production Tax Credit
    • 2015 (retroactive) & 2016: 2.3 cents/kilowatt hour of energy produced
    • 2017: 80% credit
    • 2018: 60% credit
    • 2019: 40% credit
  • Solar Investment Tax Credit (granted when projects “commence construction”)
    • Five-year extension from end of 2016; credit given as long as start before Jan. 1, 2022, and completed by Jan. 1, 2024
      • 2017-2019: 30% of investment (full credit),
      • 2020: 26% credit
      • 2021: 22% credit

Obama Administration Announces Rule Forcing Employers to Track Wages By Gender, Race, Ethnicity

Today, the Obama Administration announced a proposed rule to track wages across all industries and sectors, affecting at least 63 million employees, according to the White House “fact sheet.”  The rule, set to be published and implemented jointly by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (DOL), would be require employers of 100 or more workers, including contractors, to submit wage data according to gender, race and ethnicity, using existing EEO-1 forms.

Notably, only federal contractors are currently required to submit this data, however the Obama administration has frequently used federal contracts as leverage to test new labor and employment agendas before applying them to all employers (i.e. the Executive Order (EO) on discussing compensation, on mandatory seven-day paid sick leave, re: mandatory overtime vs. salaried employees, and the federal contractor minimum wage requirement of at least $10.10, etc.).

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule for 60 days from the day it’s “noticed” in the Federal Register.

Background:

President Obama took office in January of 2009, and his first bill signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  Notably, today marks the seven-year anniversary of that bill signing and the President’s promise to reduce the gender wage gap.  Essentially, the Fair Pay Act law amended the 1964 Civil Rights Act to say that unfair pay complaints could be filed as late as 180 days from when unfair pay is discovered, and that that clock resets with each paycheck – reversing a previous Supreme Court Decision (against Lilly Ledbetter) which had limited unfair pay complaints to 180 days from when an employer makes a decision to pay a worker less.  While the President has circumvented Congress with the creation of this rule, he is asking Congress to also take up and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

President Obama directed the Council of Economic Advisors to release a report on the gender pay gap, which the proposed rule is based upon.  According to that report, women are only making 79% of a man’s wages in the same job, despite the gap narrowing in the last two years.  Further, the President points to gap reductions in other industrialized countries as a basis for today’s proposed rule.

  • Since 2000, the United Kingdom reduce gap by 9%;
  • Japan, Belgium, Ireland and Denmark by 7%.

The Atlantic takes a closer look at the President’s executive actions, rules and likely future labor actions here.

For questions regarding these or other federal related issues, please contact CACI’s Federal Affairs Director, Leah Curtsinger by email or at 303-866-9641.