Colorado Capitol Report

The Colorado Chamber Board Opposes Minimum Wage, Oil-and-Gas Ballot Initiatives

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State Policy News

CACI Board Opposes Oil-and-Gas Ballot Initiatives, Minimum Wage Hike Measure

This week, the CACI Board of Directors voted to oppose two proposed ballot measures that would greatly restrict oil-and-gas production and to oppose a ballot initiative that would increase the state minimum wage.

The three proposals are in the signature-gathering stage.  Petitions are due at the Secretary of State’s Office August 8th.

CACI will inform its members about the issue committees organized to fight the three ballot measures and how to contribute to these efforts.

Election Year Political Context

In a presidential election year, Democratic voter turnout tends to increase.  The presence of these three measures, if they qualify for the ballot, can be viewed through a political lens as tactics to further increase the turnout by Democrats.

In particular, increasing the minimum wage at the local, state and national governmental levels has become an integral part of the Democratic Party’s strategy to address the perceived income gap.

Finally, Amendment 69, which would create a $25 billion, single-payer, health-care system, also can be viewed to some degree as another tactic to increase Democrat votes.  At this time, Amendment 69 is the only measure that has qualified for the ballot.  The CACI Board of Directors last November voted to oppose the initiative.

Oil-and-Gas Initiatives

Initiative 75 would transfer the authority to regulate oil-and-natural gas development from the State to local governments.  This would result in a Balkanized system of regulations across the Colorado and also would also allow local governments to take private property without compensating property owners.  This could lead to years of expensive litigation and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Initiative 78 would establish a 2,500-foot setback from occupied structures and areas of “special concern.”  Homeowners would not be able waive the required setback distance for their own home, and this initiative would interfere with a homeowner’s ability to do what he or she wished with their own land.  Such an extreme setback would make it impossible for companies to reach a great deal of available natural resources.

Minimum Wage Increase

Initiative 101 would increase the state minimum wage from the current $6.85 per hour to $9.30, with annual increases of $0.90 until the wage reached $12 in January 2020.  After that, the wage would be increased by the annual cost of living increase.

The issue committee advocating Initiative 101 is Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, which is backed by a coalition of liberal/progressive organizations, including:

  • American Federation of Teachers — Colorado
  • 9to5 Colorado
  • Colorado Center on Law and Policy
  • Colorado Education Association
  • Colorado Fiscal Institute
  • Colorado AFL-CIO
  • Denver Area Labor Federation
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Colorado
  • The Bell Policy Center

The June 27th filing with the Secretary of State’s Office by Colorado Families for a Fair Wage show that Colorado Families for a Fair Wage shows that it has raised $1.1 million, with these notable contributions:

  • $183,278.57, the Fairness Project, Palo Alto, Calif.
  • $110,778.32, the New Venture Fund, Washington, D.C
  • $350,000, the Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • $20,000, Pat Stryker, the well-known Fort Collins philanthropist who contributes to liberal causes.
  • $82,408, Together Colorado Action, Denver.
  • $200,000, Civic Participation Action Fund, Denver.
  • $50,000, SEIU C.O.P.E., Washington, D.C.
  • $64,500, Sixteen Thirty Fund, Washington, D.C.
  • $20,000, Colorado Fund for Children and Public Education (an arm of the Colorado Education Association).
  • $12,000, Front Range Economic Strategy Center, Wheat Ridge.

The amount of contributions from organizations outside of Colorado is a clear indication of the Democratic national interest in increasing the minimum wage and support for Initiative 101.

In 2006, CACI opposed a ballot measure, Amendment 42, that placed an increase to the state minimum wage in the Colorado Constitution.  That initiative was backed by the national AFL-CIO as a strategy to increase Democratic voter turnout.  Amendment 42 passed by a margin of 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent.  It increased the minimum wage to $6.85 per hour and required an annual increase to offset the increase in the cost of living.

The minimum wage is currently $8.31 per hour and $5.29 per hour for tipped employees.  The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment administers the minimum wage law.

Amendment 42 stipulated that “no more than $3.02 in tipped income can be used to offset the minimum wage of employees who regularly receive tips.”  This provision will not be affected by Initiative 101, should the voters approve it in November.

During the 2015 legislative session, progressive Democrats sought, unsuccessfully, to pass several measure to increase the minimum wage.

The Colorado Restaurant Association, a CACI member, has prepared an interactive, on-line worksheet to help its members understand the impact of Initiative 101.

Federal Policy News

DOL ‘Persuader Rule’ Shot Down By Courts

Late last week, a U.S. District Court Judge in Texas signed an injunctive order against the Department of Labor (DOL) on behalf of business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), in suing the Obama Administration for labor regulation oversteps.  The proposed ‘persuader rule’ would limit business communications to the detriment of employers, but to the benefit of labor unions, groups looking to organize an employer, and greater government oversight of day-to-day business operations.

Judge Sam Cummings said the seriousness of encroachment on free speech warranted a nationwide injunction, meaning the DOL is prohibited from implementing the rule intended to force businesses to report when a business seeks expert advice, legal counsel or communications consults from anti- or non- union labor experts.

“The chilling of speech protected by the First Amendment is in and of itself an irreparable injury,” Judge Cummings wrote in the order. “The new rule is defective to its core because it entirely eliminates the… advice exemption.”

The case at hand, National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Perez et al, has became as much about attorney client privileges, as it was about the free speech of businesses and business strategies to manage a successful business, including educating employees about why an employer believes unionizing isn’t the best option for future company success.

To read more:

Judge Temporarily Blocks DOL Persuader Rule, The Hill

U.S. Judge Blocks Union ‘Persuader’ Rule Pending Lawsuit, Reuters

If you have questions about this issue, or ideas for future Federal Policy Councils, contact Leah Curtsinger, CACI Federal Policy Director, by email or at (303) 866-9641.

Federal News Recap

  • Toxic substance reform (TSCA) signed into law by President Obama last week.
  • Federal judge in Wyoming strikes down Obama Administration’s fracking rule, saying the Department of the Interior didn’t have authority to promulgate the rule.
  • U. S. Supreme Court upholds lower court decision (4-4) that immigration rules issued by Executive Order are unconstitutional.


  • NEXT Federal Policy Council is July 19th – Location to be announced shortly!