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State Policy News
Key Senate Races: District 26
Last week’s issue of the CACI Colorado Capitol Report contained an article that analyzed two of the three key Senate races that will likely determine which party controls the Senate for the 2017 and 2018 legislative session. These two races are Senate District 19 and Senate District 25.
CACI’s goal for the legislative elections is for split political control of the two legislative chambers. Past legislative sessions have demonstrated that CACI and the statewide business community that it represents fare best when control of the two chambers is split between the two major political parties. Currently, the Republicans control the 35-member Senate by one vote and the Democrats control the House 34 to 31.
These three key Senate races are drawing close attention from the state’s political cognoscenti—and dollars and support to match.
Here are the CACI-endorsed candidates in the three races:
- Senator Laura Woods (R-Arvada), Senate District 19
- Representative Kevin Priola (R-Henderson), Senate District 25
- Nancy Doty (R-Littleton), Senate District 26
Two weeks ago, the CACI Colorado Capitol Report carried an article spotlighting how the state’s campaign finance law allows organized union a leg up when it comes to using small-donor committees to support legislative candidates. To see how this works in practice, this week’s article and last week’s article examine how union SDCs are backing Democratic candidates in these three critical Senate races.
Senate District 26
The District has been represented by Senator Linda Newell (D-Littleton), who is term limited after serving two, four-year terms. She won her last election in 2012 by a 54% to 45% margin over her Republican opponent. In the presidential election that year, President Barack Obama bested Mitt Romney by a 53.4% to 44.3% margin among the District’s voters.
Representative Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills Village) is the Democrat’s standard-bearer. Kagan was first elected to the House in 2008 to represent House District 3 and is term limited.
The Republican candidate is Nancy Doty, who is currently an Arapahoe County Commissioner and is a former Arapahoe County Clerk/Recorder. She is a CPA.
By mid-September, the two candidates had raised more than $335,000 in total, which will likely make it one of the most expensive statehouse races this year.
Arapahoe County’s Senate District 26 stretches from Parker Road in the east to Sheridan Boulevard in the west, encompassing all or parts of Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, Littleton, Columbine, Bow-Mar, Columbine Valley and Sheridan.
Of the 88,040 active registered voters in the District as of September 6th:
- 34.5 % are unaffiliated,
- 30.2% are Republican, and
- 33.6% are Democrat.
In addition, 259 voters registered as Green Party members and 960 registered as Libertarians. Given the volatility of the electorate this year, these minority-party voters could play a key role in determining which candidate wins in a close race.
As of September 14th, Doty had raised $141,319 and had spent $87,383. Meanwhile, Kagan began with $190, had raised $193,668 and had spent $128,818.
Among Kagan’s individual notable contributors is George Soros, who gave the maximum of $400.
Here’s the list of private- and public-sector union SDCs that have contributed (maximum is $4,850) to Kagan’s campaign as of September 14th:
- $4,850, Public Education Committee, Colorado Education Association.
- $2,000, Colorado American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations.
- $1,000, Sheet Metal Workers.
- $4,000, Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers.
- $4,850, United Food & Commercial Workers Active Ballot Club Education Fund, Washington, D.C.
- $1,000, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters.
- $1,000, Colorado WINs.
- $800, Colorado Professional Firefighters
- $2,000, Pipefitters Local 208.
- $2,000, Plumbers Local 3.
- $$4,850, Fund for Educational Progress, Aurora.
- $1,000, AFT Colorado Federation of Teachers, School, Health and Public Employees.
Finally, the Colorado Democratic Party has given, as of September 14th $17,500 this year to Kagan while the Colorado Trial Lawyers contributed $2,000.
CACI urges its members to personally give to its endorsed candidates. A corporation or a non-corporate business entity cannot give money directly to a candidate. An individual, however, can give a legislative candidate up to $400.
For more information on the three key Senate races and the role played by union small-donor committees, read:
“Three Key Senate Races: Who Will Control the Colorado Senate in 2017 & 2018?” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, September 23rd.
“The big spending is on for state House and Senate races,” by Marianne Goodland, The Colorado Independent, September 21st.
“Union Small-Donor Committees Target Key Legislative Races,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, September 16th.
“Senate District 26 race likely to be one of the year’s biggest money statehouse contests,” by Marianne Goodland, The Colorado Independent, June 29th.
State Policy News
Keep Colorado Working Launches Television Ads to Defeat Amendment 70, the Minimum-Wage Hike
Last week, Keep Colorado Working, which is fighting to keep Amendment 70 out of the Colorado Constitution, launched three television ads. These ads feature CACI member and partner Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, and its member businesses, as well as two other Colorado business owners who tell the story of how Amendment 70 will be devastating for their businesses. Below are the three television ads:
Amendment 70 would raise the state minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020. The current minimum wage is $8.31, which is the result of a 2006 ballot initiative approved by the voters. The Federal minimum wage is $7.25.
CACI opposes the measure for 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 not able to pass the increased labor costs on to their customers.
With Election Day fast approaching, it is important that businesses engage with the campaign to defeat Amendment 70.
The backers of the measure, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, comprise some 35 organizations that include labor unions, liberal/progressive think tanks and social/economic-justice organizations. Significant out-of-state money from national unions and progressive/liberal organizations on both the East and West Coasts, however, is being contributed to Colorado Families for a Fair Wage.
As of September 14th, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage had raised $2,308,115.32 and had spent $1,562,447.64.
CACI strongly urges its members to contribute to the issue committee that has been formed to oppose Amendment 70. The issue committee is called Keep Colorado Working.
The committee’s registration number with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is 20165031488. An issue committee can accept unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations and non-corporate business entities. Contributions to Keep Colorado Working will be filed with the Secretary of State’s Office and, therefore, will become public.
CACI members should send contributions to:
Keep Colorado Working
2318 Curtis Street
Denver CO 80201
CACI members with questions about contributions to Keep Colorado Working should call Katie Behnke or Austin Metsch at the Starboard Group at 720.524.7332.
CACI members with questions about the minimum-wage issue should contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.
For background on the Amendment 70, read:
“Amendment 70 State Minimum Wage,” Blue Book, Colorado Legislative Council.
“Minimum-Wage Hike Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, August 11th.
“CACI Board Opposes Minimum Wage, Oil-and-Gas Ballot Initiatives,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, June 30th.
Federal Policy News
U.S. Chamber and 21 States File Suit Against Obama Administration’s Overtime Rule
Last week, the U.S. Chamber challenged the Department of Labor (DOL) Overtime Rule, along with a slew of pro-business partners. The ‘et al’ in the case includes 21 states, the National Automobile Dealers Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Wholesaler Distributors, National Federation of Independent Business, and the National Retail Federation, plus a coalition of more than 50 business groups in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Texas.
The business suit asserts that the Department of Labor (DOL) overstepped its statutory authority by setting an excessively high salary threshold for what qualifies as executive, administrative and professional employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). At the same time, the DOL would also be violating the Administrative Procedures Act by ratcheting up the overtime salary threshold every three years without Congressional approval. The overtime rule put forth by the DOL is currently set to take effect Dec. 1, 2016, and changes 75 years’ worth of enforcement and interpretation of the FLSA. See the quote below by the US Chamber regarding the lawsuit:
“The DOL went too far in the new overtime regulation. We have heard from our members, small businesses, nonprofits, and other employers that the salary threshold is going to result in significant new labor costs and cause many disruptions in how work gets done. Furthermore, the automatic escalator provision means that employers will have to go through their reclassification analysis every three years. In combination, the new overtime rule will result in salaried professional employees being converted to hourly wages, and it will reduce workplace flexibility, remote electronic access to work, and opportunities for career advancement.” — Randy Johnson, Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits for the U.S. Chamber
While the Attorneys General for Texas and Nevada are the primary attorneys this case, there are 19 other states participating in the suit, including: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.
Want to learn more about this case? Here are FAQs from the U.S Chamber of Commerce:
FAQs on the Legal Challenge to the Obama Administration’s Overtime Rule From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Q: Who are the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit?
A: The plaintiffs in the business groups’ diverse coalition include the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, the Texas Association of Business, more than 40 local chambers of commerce throughout the state of Texas and other business groups in Texas, and more than a dozen other sector-specific business groups.
Q: Why did the business groups file the lawsuit?
A: The Department’s unprecedented doubling of the minimum salary threshold for executive, administrative, or professional employees to be considered exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act will have significant adverse effects on businesses, nonprofit groups and associations, and employees. The Department of Labor’s new overtime rule will impose significant new economic costs and limit workplace flexibility, impede career and promotion opportunities, and make it harder for businesses and nonprofits to expand to meet the needs of their customers and constituents. The new overtime rule will be particularly damaging to nonprofit organizations, including trade associations and chambers of commerce, that will be subject to the rule.
Q: What are the main legal arguments against the overtime rule?
A: The business groups’ lawsuit advances three legal arguments against the Department of Labor’s overtime rule: (1) the excessively high salary threshold contradicts the intent of Congress to have executive, administrative, and professional employees exempt from overtime; (2) the new automatic update provision, which would impose new salary thresholds every three years without going through rulemakings, is not authorized by the FLSA, and in fact the FLSA directs the secretary to make changes to these exemptions through the notice and comment regulatory process; and (3) the Department acted arbitrarily and capriciously in promulgating its new overtime rule, in violation of the federal Administrative Procedure Act.
Q: What other steps has your organization taken regarding the DOL’s new overtime regulation?
A: The U.S. Chamber and its federation of state and local partners have been highly active in this rulemaking from the outset. We met with the Secretary of Labor before the regulation was proposed, submitted extensive and comprehensive comments describing in detail the problems this regulation will cause, and have explained at every step how the Department has gone too far. The Chamber and its federation partners also sent a letter to Congress urging action to provide relief from this regulation. The letter had almost 370 groups signed on.
Q: Will this lawsuit impact the December 1st date that the DOL rule is scheduled to go into effect?
A: While the Chamber’s suit seeks to invalidate the regulation, when or how the court will rule on this suit is impossible to predict at this point, therefore we recommend that businesses continue to prepare to be in compliance by December 1st. We will continue to provide updates as the suit moves forward.
If you have questions about the new federal overtime standard or questions about any other federal issues, please contact CACI Federal Policy Director Leah Curtsinger at (303) 866-9641.