Colorado Capitol Report

Newspaper Reports that Signature-Gathers for Colorado Minimum Wage Hike Initiative Were Paid Less Than Measure’s $12 Goal

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State Policy News

Newspaper Reports that Signature-Gathers for Colorado Minimum Wage Hike Initiative Were Paid Less Than Measure’s $12 Goal

According to The Washington Times, a wage report filed with the Colorado Secretary of State by an organization hired to gather signatures for the ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour paid its workers less than that amount.

Fieldworks, a company based in Washington, D.C., was hired by Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, the issue committee promoting the ballot measure, to gather the signatures.  According to the newspaper, the campaign has since amended its report to the Secretary of State’s Office, asserting clerical errors in calculating the wages to its workers because they were collecting signatures for multiple ballot initiatives.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s Office has turned over some suspicious signatures submitted by Colorado Families for a Fair Wage to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office for investigation of possible fraud.

Background on Colorado Minimum Wage:  The current minimum wage is $8.31, which is the result of a 2006 ballot initiative approved by the voters.  Amendment 70 would raise that amount to $12 per hour in four years. The Federal minimum wage is $7.25.

CACI has taken a position in opposition of Amendment 70 based on several reasons, including the following:

  • An increase in the state minimum wage should be statutory in nature and debated by the legislature and not enshrined in the State Constitution, where it will be virtually impossible to change;
  • The measure interferes with the “private right to contract” between a worker and an employer; and
  • Important sectors, such as hospitality, will likely be adversely affected if companies, especially small ones with thin profit margins, are unable to pass the increased labor costs on to customers.

The proponents of the Amendment 70, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, comprise of 36 organizations that include labor unions, liberal/progressive think tanks and social/economic-justice organizations.  Much of the $1.160 million of funding for the campaign, as of July 27th, has come from out-of-state liberal/progressive organizations and unions.  The latest filing revealed the following:

  • $1,600, Fairness Project, Palo Alto, Calif., for “web hosting.”
  • $5,000, American Income Life Insurance Company, Waco, Tex.
  • $50,000, Sixteen Thirty Fund, Washington, D.C.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund has contributed a total of $114,500 while the Fairness Project has contributed a total of $185,478.57.  Other notable, out-of-state contributors from prior reporting periods include:

  • $110,778.32, New Venture Fund, Washington, D.C
  • $350,000, Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • $50,000, Service Employees International Union C.O.P.E., Washington, D.C.

The issue committee that has been formed to oppose Amendment 70 is called Keep Colorado Working.  CACI members are encouraged to sign the attached Pledge in opposition of the amendment and to contribute to the issue committee detailed below:

Keep Colorado Working
2318 Curtis Street
Denver CO 80201

Contact for questions on contributions: Katie Behnke or Austin Metsch, the Starboard Group @ 720-524-7332.

Amendment 70 Frequently Asked Questions (prepared by “Keep Colorado Working”)

What is amendment 70 and who is behind it?
Amendment 70 is an initiative proposed and funded by two of the nation’s wealthiest and most politically active labor unions, the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) and AFL-CIO.  It is part of a broader national push to dramatically increase the minimum wage.  Their initiative would place a dramatic minimum wage hike in the Colorado Constitution, increasing the minimum wage by 44% for most entry-level workers, and 70% for servers, bartenders and other tipped employees by 2020. Wages would continue to rise through cost of living increases year over year.

How does Colorado’s current minimum wage stack-up to the rest of the nation?
Colorado has raised its minimum wage in the last 10 years by more than almost any other state, giving it one of the highest minimum wages in the country.  In 2006, Colorado voters approved an immediate minimum wage increase and a permanent requirement that the minimum wage increase by inflation every year thereafter.  The 2006 minimum wage boost has increased the minimum wage by more than 61% in the 10 years since, making it one of the highest and one of the few that escalates automatically every year.

How much would amendment 70 increase the minimum wage over-and-above the 2006 law?
Dramatically – nearly 50%.  Initiative 101 would increase the minimum wage by an additional 44% over the next four years, on top of the 61% increase that has occurred in the last 10 years. The increase is even more dramatic for tipped employees – raising the minimum wage by 70% for those employees. Proposed minimum wage increases in other states give flexibility, for example, to small businesses in rural areas where the cost of living and cost of doing business is much different than a larger business in a large urban and suburban area.

Does amendment 70 give any flexibility for rural areas or small businesses?
No.  One of the most draconian aspects of Initiative 101 is that it would make a small business in the San Luis Valley, the Western Slope or the Eastern Plains pay the same wage structure to new workers as it would for large and cash-rich businesses in communities like Boulder, Aspen, Cherry Hills and the high-end Denver suburbs.  The National Federation of Independent Business says Initiative 101 will have a disproportionate impact on small, rural and family-owned businesses because they typically operate on smaller profit margins and do not have the capacity to absorb a 44% – 70% increase in the minimum wage like larger businesses with larger profits.

If this initiative passes, next year can’t we correct the correct the cost of living disparity that hurts rural communities relative to larger, higher-income communities?
No.  Because amendment 70 is a constitutional amendment, if passed, it cannot be changed by the legislature.  Theoretically, voters could approve another constitutional amendment amending this constitutional amendment, but that hasn’t happened in Colorado since Prohibition.

If this initiative passes, can’t we correct the tipped-wage issue at the legislature?
No.  Because amendment 70 is a constitutional amendment, if passed, it cannot be changed without a vote of the people.

How would the initiative impact restaurants and other businesses whose employees earn a significant share of their pay from tips?
Restaurants – especially small, family-owned operations in rural areas – will feel the brunt of Initiative 101 more directly than any sector. The minimum wage for tipped employees, like servers or bartenders, will increase by 70% under Initiative 101. This increase is larger than the 44% increase for non-tipped employees because the tip credit of $3.02 – or the amount less from the current minimum wage that tipped employees can be paid – will not change.

Is there room for a compromise?
The Colorado Restaurant Association met with proponents prior to the ballot language deadline in March and asked if they would consider a compromise, even if only on the tipped wage. Their response was “no.” In fact, the proponents stated that they would prefer the minimum wage to be $15 per hour and eliminate the tip credit altogether.  All state deadlines have passed to introduce alternative ballot language for this election.

Have there been studies done on the impact of such a large minimum wage hike?
Yes, multiple studies both locally and nationally have demonstrated significant negative economic impacts by such a large increase. A recent independent study found that amendment 70 would reduce Colorado employment by 90,000 jobs by 2022 and depress wages in the state by $3.9 billion annually. It would have an even more outsized impact on teenage employment, reducing it by 10,500 jobs by 2022, depriving many young Coloradans of early job opportunities and the ability to save for college. Nationally, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found a smaller increase in the federal minimum wage – to $10.10 per hour – would have the effect of killing 500,000 jobs across the country.

I pay my employees more than the minimum wage currently. How will this measure affect my business?
The job losses incurred as a result of Initiative 101 will have wide-ranging impacts across the economy, in addition to the $3.9 billion in reduced wages felt by Colorado consumers. Many businesses will be forced to raise prices to cover their increased labor costs – costs that will be borne by many businesses who currently pay more than the minimum wage. Additionally, with entry-level workers making $12/hour there will be pressure to raise wages for all employees, causing increased labor costs for many businesses that currently pay more than the minimum wage.

What has happened in other states where this has been proposed and is there a real shot at beating it?
Minimum wage increases passed at the ballot box in four states in 2014, but all were for much smaller increases than the one proposed by Initiative 101. Initial research shows that Colorado voters have significant concerns about the measure and that it remains eminently beatable.  In 2006, the last time a minimum wage measure was on the ballot in Colorado it barely passed, 53% – 47%. However, this year the choice before voters is much different than 2006. Rather than deciding between keeping the minimum wage stagnant and increasing it, voters will decide between the current annual increase and raising the minimum wage to the point where significant job losses are suffered as a result.

Who is for and who is against amendment 70?
The proponents and funders of the measure are largely national labor unions and liberal special interest groups who are targeting Colorado’s ballot as part of a broader national political effort. Opponents include the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, Aurora Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Colorado Restaurant Association, the Colorado-Wyoming Petroleum Marketer’s Association, the Tavern League and a growing list of small and family-owned businesses that would feel the brunt of the negative consequences of such a large increase in such a short time.

CACI Welcomes Failure of Oil & Gas Ballot Measures to Qualify for November Ballot

Yesterday, the office of Colorado Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, confirmed that two energy-focused ballot initiatives failed to qualify to appear on Colorado’s November statewide ballots.  The two initiatives in question were initiatives Number 75 and Number 78.

No. 75 proposed a constitutional amendment to give local governments the authority to regulate oil-and-gas development, including fracking.  In effect, initiative No. 75 eroded the primacy of state law when state and local laws conflicted, in stating that local oil-and-gas regulations are not “preempted” by state law.

No. 78 proposed a constitutional amendment to implement a mandatory statewide 2,500-foot setback around all oil-and-gas operations.  A recent analysis of this initiative conducted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Colorado’s primary oversight agency for oil-and-gas operations, found that initiative 78 would have effectively banned oil-and-gas operations on approximately 90% of Colorado’s surface acreage, on 85% of surface acreage in Weld County, and on 95% of the combined surface acreage across Colorado’s top five oil-and-gas producing counties.

Earlier this summer, CACI’s board of directors issued strong positions of opposition to the two anti-industry ballot measures.

A Monday, August 29 bulletin issued by the Colorado Secretary of State stated that:

“Citizens who are trying to get an issue on the ballot must submit 98,492 voter signatures. Supporters of the two measures collected more than that for each proposal, but not enough to compensate for the number of signatures that were rejected during the random sample.”

Supporters of No. 75 submitted a total of 107,232 signatures, and supporters for No. 78 submitted 106,626 signatures.  However, the Secretary of States analysis of a random sampling of 5% of the signatures submitted projected that only 79,634 valid signatures were filed for No. 75 and only 77,109 valid signatures were filed for No. 78, both falling far short of the 98,492 valid signatures required to qualify for the statewide November ballot.

Supporters of the two anti-oil-and-gas initiatives have 30 days from today to appeal the decision to the Denver District Court.  However, based on the relatively low number of total signatures – in relation to the number of valid signature required to qualify for the ballot – submitted by supporters of each initiative, well over 90% of the signatures submitted would need to be verified as qualifying signatures.  While such a high signature verification percentage is possible, few, if any, prior ballot initiative efforts have achieved such a signature success rate.

CACI Continues to Lead Efforts to Develop Less-Burdensome Ozone Regulations

As a result of increasing ozone levels in the Denver Metro-North Front Range (DM-NFR) region, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has increased the severity of the region’s nonattainment designation under the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).  Per this EPA action, the region’s nonattainment designation has been increased from “marginal” to “moderate” nonattainment.

As a result of this increasingly severe ozone nonattainment the EPA is requiring Colorado to implement even tighter controls for ozone-causing emissions in the DM-NFR region.   Accordingly, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division has proposed a package of regulatory revisions to Colorado’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) for achieving compliance with federal ozone standards.

Since the proposal’s finalization, CACI has worked with engaged members of the CACI Energy & Environment Council to raise a number of serious substantive concerns regarding the newly proposed ozone regulations.  CACI has also voiced concerns regarding the fast-tracked process via which they are being considered by Colorado regulators.

Due in large part to the leadership of CACI, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s August 26 Order grants CACI’s request to delay the rulemaking hearing regarding the pending ozone regulation proposals.

Click here to view the Order, and to see updated rulemaking deadlines.

This delay will give CACI and industry stakeholders additional time to work with Colorado’s air quality regulators to develop new ozone regulations that balance the need to implement the stricter environmental protections required by EPA with the need to do so in a way that avoids and or minimizes the costs and burdens that industry operators must incur to achieve compliance with the new regulations.

CACI has filed for formal party status in this ozone rulemaking process to ensure that CACI can formally communicate the concerns of a wide range of industries that could be impacted by the new and tighter ozone regulations.  Impacted industries include, aerospace and advanced manufacturing, brewing, canning & bottling manufacturing, electric utility, industrial coatings, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and oil and gas sectors.

To learn more about the pending ozone proposals and the rulemaking process to finalize and adopt these proposals as official Colorado regulations, please see the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division’s ozone website:

To view the official Notice of Rulemaking Hearing for the Ozone SIP Revision Proposal, and regulatory proposal in its entirety, click here.

Finally, while this work is focused on the Denver-Metro-North Front Range nonattainment region, today’s efforts could very well lay the foundation for the coming efforts to overhaul Colorado’s ozone regulations under the newly finalized 2015 Ozone NAAQS of 70ppb. With this new, stricter ozone standard there is an increased risk that over time additional geographic regions throughout Colorado could face nonattainment designations and resulting regulatory tightening.

Accordingly, missed opportunities to advance SIP revisions in this rulemaking that balance the EPA’s defined environmental controls with the need to also minimize the compliance costs and burdens for operators could result in broader and longer-lasting unintended consequences for Colorado industries operating throughout the state.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this ozone regulatory issue and related rulemaking process, please contact CACI Director of Governmental Relations, Dan O’Connell, at [email protected] or 303-866-9622.

SAVE THE DATE: CACI Federal Policy Council to Meet Nov. 15, Noon @ CACI Offices

CACI will provide an election analysis and will host speakers from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to talk about ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of federal regulations – and how those regulations affect everyday business practices.

  • Have you ever worked with a state or federal agency to remove or better implement a regulation?
  • Have you ever had ideas about OR wanted to create more effective regulation?
  • IF so, CACI wants to hear from you!

CACI and the NAM are working to collect YOUR STORIES from around Colorado – to show where regulations can be improved or removed.  We also want to hear about success stories which show businesses and manufacturers can work together and can come up with creative and effective solutions to overburdensome regulations. 

Contact CACI Federal Policy Director, Leah Curtsinger or at (303) 866-9641 to share your story.

**PLEASE NOTE:  The Sept. 8 Federal Policy Council has been cancelled. **