Colorado Capitol Report

The Colorado Chamber Supports Initiative to Tighten Requirements for Constitutional Ballot Measures

This Capitol Report is brought to you by:

  • community-banks-of-colorado

State Policy News

CACI Supports Initiative to Tighten Requirements for Constitutional Ballot Measures

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced that Initiative 96, which would make it harder to amend the Colorado Constitution through citizen initiatives, has qualified for the November ballot.

The CACI Board of Directors, consequently, has voted to support Initiative 96.

The proposal has two main features:

  • Most significantly, the measure would require that a “petition for a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment be signed by at least two percent of the registered electors who reside in each state senate district” for the measure to be placed on the ballot.  Colorado has 35 state senate districts.
  • The percentage of votes needed to pass a constitutional amendment would be increased from a majority to at least 55 percent; however, a proposed constitutional amendment that “only repeals, in whole or in part, any provision of the constitution” would still need a only a majority vote to be enacted by the voters.

The proposal would not change the provisions governing initiated statutory amendments in terms of the requirements for signature gathering or the requirement of a simple majority vote at a General Election.

In addition, there would be no change in the ability of the General Assembly to propose to the voters any amendment to the Colorado Constitution upon a vote of two-thirds in the House of Representatives (44 of 65) and the State Senate (24 of 35).

The group advocating the measure, Raise the Bar, submitted 183,691 signatures.  A random sample of 5 percent of these signatures projected 127,054 valid signatures, which far exceeds the required 98,492 signatures by 129 percent.  Consequently, Secretary of State Williams issued a “Statement of Sufficiency” and certified that the measure qualified for the ballot.

The third draft of the Blue Book analysis of Initiative 96 has been completed by the Legislative Council.  Comments on the draft were due by August 9th.

Among the comments made by CACI members about this issue are the following:

  • The business community has to fight a number of anti-business ballot measures at virtually every General Election, with a price tag running into the many millions of dollars.
  • Once an amendment has been placed in the Constitution, experience over the past 30 years to 40 years shows that it is virtually impossible to change it.
  • Many of the issues concerning proposed constitutional amendments should properly be addressed by the Legislature in statutory form.

Two initiatives have already qualified for the November ballot that CACI and the business community are opposing: Initiative 101, which would increase the minimum wage, and Initiative 20, which would install a single-payer, health-care system known as ColoradoCares.  Initiative 20 has become Amendment 69.  Once an initiative qualifies for the ballot, it is assigned an amendment number by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Two more CACI-opposed initiatives are waiting for the Secretary of State to rule on whether or not they qualify for the ballot:

  • 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.

CACI, therefore, urges its members to support Initiative 96 by contributing to Raise the Bar.

The issue committee that has been formed to oppose Initiative 96 is called “Raise the Bar – Protect Colorado’s Constitution.”  The Committee’s registration number with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is 20165030321.

An issue committee can accept unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations and non-corporate business entities.  Contributions to Raise the Bar will be filed with the Secretary of State’s Office and, therefore, will become public.

Backing the measure are three Democrats–Governor John Hickenlooper, Senator Pat Steadman (Denver) and Representative Dominick Moreno (Denver)–as well as a coalition of business organizations from across Colorado.  Such newspapers as The Longmont Times-Call, The Durango Herald and The Aurora Sentinel have endorsed the measure.

Bipartisan opponents include The Independence Institute and Colorado Common Cause.

CACI members with questions about contributions to Raise the Bar should either call 720.326.8612 or email the Committee.

For news media coverage of Initiative 96, visit:

Is it too easy to get initiatives on Colorado ballot?” by Kevin Simpson, The Denver Post, August 15th.

Raise bar for amendments to Colorado constitution,” editorial, The Longmont Times-Call, August 14th.

Raise the Bar wants to make it harder to change Colorado constitution,” by Marianne Goodland, The Colorado Independent, June 1st.

New DOJ Rule Puts Justice Department Into Business of Discrimination

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) weighed into employment matters typically governed by the Department of Labor (DOL) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The newly-proposed rule alters discrimination investigations, and even more importantly for CACI members to know, changes the longtime standards and parameters for investigations of employers.

This is bad news for businesses because previously, discrimination investigations were based on proving discrimination was intentional or malicious by employers.  The proposed rule would expand DOJ authorities and allow the pursuit of investigations where intent is not necessarily present, particularly in cases of immigrants seeking employment and regardless of legal immigration status.

Equally concerning is the change in existing timelines vs. proposed timelines.  Today’s standard includes a 180-day limit on the time allowed between occurrence of alleged infractions and when an investigation must be requested.  The new rule allows 10x as much time to pass between when an alleged discrimination occurs – going from the original six months to a proposed five years.

Additionally, proposed language would allow DOJ to include hiring and employment verification processes in the scope of investigations, as well as ‘citizenship, immigration status, national origin discrimination and unfair documentary practices.’  CACI will be tracking this proposed rule closely, particularly in light of CACI efforts at the state level to prevent “Ban the Box” legislation from being enacted.  Ban the Box would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about past criminal history on job applications, and in some cases, prohibit inquiries prior to a job offer.

If you have concerns about the DOJ’s proposed rule and wish to file comments, contact Leah Curtsinger, CACI Federal Policy Director, (303) 866-9641, so that CACI can ensure all necessary agencies and representatives receive your comments.  Comments are due by midnight, September 14, 2016.

SBA Office of Advocacy - Thank you for attending our events in Colorado

Dear Small Business Representatives:

Thank you so much for meeting with SBA’s Office of Advocacy in Colorado last week!
Advocacy held five Small Business Roundtables in Boulder and Denver, and visited many amazing small businesses.

It was wonderful to meet all of you, learn about your businesses, and get feedback on your experience with federal regulations.

I want to encourage all of you to sign up for our listservs and publications, to keep up to date on regulations that may impact you.

A big thank you to our Regional Advocate John Hart for planning this trip, and to regional staff from the DOL and SBA for participating and planning these events.
We also appreciated all of the help with these events from the MiCasa Resource Center, Colorado SBDC (both Denver & Boulder offices), and the State Chamber of Commerce (CACI).
The contact information for the Advocacy staff follows the information below.
I wanted to provide a quick summary and resources on the topics we discussed at our Small Business Roundtables.

  • DOL’s Overtime Regulations– These final rules are effective on December 1, 2016.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are entitled to overtime pay if they work over 40 hours a week. However, there are many exemptions under the FLSA. This final rule amends the FLSA “white collar” exemption from overtime pay for executive, administrative and professional employees.

  • The new rule updates the minimum salary threshold that determines which employees can use this exemption, increasing this threshold from $23,660 to $47,476.
  • Nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments can be utilized to satisfy up to 10 percent of this standard salary level.
  • DOL will be making automatic updates every 3 years beginning on January 1, 2020.  DOL will be publishing a notice with the new minimum salary threshold 150 days before the effective date.


(Check out the Small Business Compliance Guide, Webinar, FAQs and other helpful documents)

  • DOL Wage and Hour Division Toll Free Hotline:
    1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243)
  • SEC’s Crowdfunding Rules

On May 16, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s final rule to implement crowdfunding went into effect. The final rule permits startups and small businesses to raise capital through securities offerings using the Internet through crowdfunding provided certain criteria are met:

  • Startupsand small businesses can raise up to $1M in a period of a year
  • Investors making less than $100,000 per year can invest the greater of $2,000 or 5 percent of annual income.  Investors making more than $100,000 per year can invest up to 10 percent of their annual income
  • Offerings must be made via Broker-Dealer or Web Portal Intermediary.
  • Companies offering $500,000 or more, are required to provide audited financial statements. If a company offers less than $500,000 the company is permitted to provide reviewed rather than audited financial statements.

Crowdfunding Statistics:

John W. Hart

Regional Advocate Region VIII – CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY

SBA Office of Advocacy
p 303.844.0503
c 303.868.0243
[email protected]

Janis Reyes
Assistant Chief Counsel
Labor & Immigration
[email protected]

Dillon Taylor
Assistant Chief Counsel
Taxes, Pensions & Securities
[email protected]

Jonathan Porat
Regulatory Economist
[email protected]
Lindsay Scherber
Regulatory Economist
[email protected]