In this Capitol Report:
This Capitol Report is brought to you by:
Down to the Wire: Election 2016 Stumbles to the Finish Line
The Secretary of State’s Office reported today that 1,553,325 ballots have been received by county clerks’ offices. On Monday, October 17th, the clerks began mailing ballots to registered Colorado voters.
Here are the three big categories of voters—which account for 98.6 percent of the ballots returned–who have mailed in their ballots:
- Democrat, 554,340;
- Republican, 547,775; and
- Unaffiliated, 429,267.
As of Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s Office reported that 3,837,505 Coloradans were registered to vote. Of that total, 3,273,112 are “active” voters and 597,307 are “inactive” voters.
The November 8th outcome of the state legislative races will determine whether or not CACI will face a Colorado General Assembly controlled by one party in January.
CACI supports candidates who it believes will advocate policies that will create jobs and enhance the state’s economic climate. The best chance for such policies to succeed is when the control of the legislature’s two chambers is split between the Democrats and the Republicans. CACI and the statewide business community that it represents learned this lesson the hard way in recent years.
To prevent that scenario, CACI in July endorsed a bipartisan slate of 53 incumbent and new legislative candidates and has worked hard for their election.
Republicans currently control the 35-member Senate by one vote, and the Democrats control the House 34 to 31. Consequently, control of the two chambers for the 2017 and 2018 sessions likely depends on the outcome of a half-dozen key races.
Below are six key races and the CACI endorsements that reflect CACI’s interest in maintaining a balanced legislature (fundraising and spending information as of October 19th).
CACI strongly urges its members, who live in these districts, to vote for these six CACI-endorsed candidates. “Every vote counts,” said Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations.
- District 19
Representative Roupe had raised $92,891 and had spent $76,069. Democrat Tony Exum, Sr., had raised $129,079 and spent $112,026.
- District 59
Representative Brown had raised $152,620 and spent $155,543. Barbara McLachlan, a Democrat, had raised $159,250 and spent $133,343.
- District 19
In this critical race, whose outcome may determine which party controls the Senate, incumbent Senator Woods as of October 19th had raised $192,321 and spent $141,851.
Challenger Rachel Zenzinger, a Democrat, had raised $249,549 and spent $219,582 as of October 19th.
- District 25
Representative Priola had raised $141,267 and spent $141,267 and spent $123,701. His challenger is Jenise May, a Democrat, who had raised $189,831 and spent $154,842.
- District 26
Nancy Doty (R-Littleton)
Arapahoe County Commissioner Doty had raised $177,618 and spent $148,997. Democrat Representative Daniel Kagan had raised $245,029 and spent $230,363.
- District 27
Senator Tate has raised $115,615 and spent $90,083. Democrat Tom Sullivan, Centennial, has raised $158,572 and spent $140,681.
For more information about CACI’s legislative-candidate slate, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.
For more information about the key legislative races, read:
“Eleven Days to Go: Vote for Pro-Business Legislative Candidates,” The CACI Colorado Capitol Report, October 28th.
“Key House Races: Who Will Control the Chamber and by How Many Seats?” The CACI Colorado Capitol Report, October 28th.
“CACI Urges Members to Vote for Pro-Business Legislative Candidates,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, October 17th.
“Key Senate Races: Senate District 26,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, September 30th.
“Three Key Senate Races: Who Will Control the Colorado Senate in 2017 & 2018?” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, September 23rd.
Four Days Left: Vote on Three Ballot Initiatives!
CACI has taken positions on three important ballot initiatives, two of which would harm the state’s economic climate and one that would improve it.
CACI urges its members to vote against Amendment 69, known as ColoradoCares, and Amendment 70, which would hike the state minimum wage. To make it more difficult to place such anti-business initiatives on the ballot in the future, CACI urges its members to vote for Amendment 71.
Oppose Amendment 69
Amendment 69, which was Initiative 20, would create a quasi-public, single-payer, health-care system that would impose a $25 billion tax on employers, workers and taxpayers. Here’s how the proposal is described in the Legislative Council’s fiscal analysis for its Blue Book:
Summary of Measure
Amendment 69, if enacted by voters, establishes ColoradoCare as a new political subdivision of the state to operate as a statewide system to finance health care services for Colorado residents. The measure establishes a board of trustees, initially appointed and then elected, to govern and oversee the operations of ColoradoCare. The board of trustees is required to seek federal waivers necessary to implement ColoradoCare and ColoradoCare operations may be terminated by the board if the federal government does not grant approval sufficient for its fiscally sound operation. Amendment 69 creates new taxes on most sources of income, redirects existing state and federal health funding to pay for the services and administration of ColoradoCare, and exempts ColoradoCare from constitutional limits on revenue. If fully implemented, ColoradoCare will pay for covered health care services for Coloradans who do not have other forms of health coverage and will provide supplemental coverage to persons who have other coverage.
This extraordinary ballot measure would, for all practical purposes, eliminate private health-insurance and replace it with a state governmental, universal health-care system called ColoradoCare that also would swallow up much of four major, existing state-and-federal health programs: Medicaid, workers’ compensation, children’s health insurance program and the health-care exchange.
Amendment 69 would undoubtedly be the most massive, expensive change in Colorado State Government in recent decades, and the effects on the Colorado economy would be huge. It would largely eliminate the entire private-sector health-insurance industry while creating a massive ColoradoCare bureaucracy.
At this point, no one has a “guess-timate“ of how much it would cost to shut down the private-sector health-insurance industry, laying off tens of thousands of workers, many of whom would then collect unemployment benefits, thus draining the Colorado Unemployment Trust Fund.
Employers would be forced to terminate contracts with health insurers as well as to adopt a new system for paying premium taxes to ColoradoCare. The cost to employers of transitioning from the current system to the ColoradoCare system would undoubtedly be in the tens of millions of dollars–but no one has an idea yet of the cost.
Once fully implemented, ColoradoCare would impose a “premium tax” on employers (6.67 percent of total payroll income) and workers (3.33 percent of total payroll income). Wages, salaries and tips would be subject to the tax.
Anyone who has non-payroll income would be taxed at 10 percent. Such income includes, according to the Legislative Council:
- Business proprietors’ income, including farm proprietors’ income;
- Capital gains; and
- Pensions, annuities, and Social Security benefits, to the extent taxed by the state under current law.
Taxes would not be collected on total personal income greater than $350,000 for a single-income filer or $450,000 for joint-income filers. These two limits would be indexed to calendar year 2017 but then adjusted annually according to the Denver-Boulder-Greeley Consumer Price Index (CPI) in later years.
Of particular concern to CACI would be the impact of Amendment 69 on Pinnacol Assurance, a CACI member, which provides workers’ compensation insurance to many Colorado companies. Here’s what the Legislative Council’s fiscal analysis says about Pinnacol Assurance:
Pinnacol Assurance. Pinnacol Assurance is the state-chartered insurer-of-last-resort for workers’ compensation insurance and provides coverage to over half of Colorado employers. Under Amendment 69, Pinnacol Assurance will no longer be required to provide medical coverage through its workers’ compensation policies. This will reduce its obligations to pay for workers’ medical claims. The indemnity portion of workers’ compensation policies, which pays for lost wages and other benefits, will remain under the purview of Pinnacol Assurance.
Amendment 69 is opposed by Coloradans for Coloradans, an issue committee whose co-chairs include Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Republican, and former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter. The organization is backed by a coalition of business organizations, public officials and community and civic leaders.
Oppose Amendment 70
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.
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.
Despite the name of the issue committee, however, much of the $4.925 million of funding for Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, as of October 26th, has come from out-of-state liberal/progressive organizations and unions. The reason, obviously, is that the Democratic Party at both national and state levels has enthusiastically embraced increases in state, local and Federal minimum wages not just as a policy objective but, particularly in Colorado, as a strategy to increase Democrat voter turnout.
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.
The issue committee that has been formed to oppose Initiative 101 is called Keep Colorado Working.
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 more information on Amendment 70, read:
“Minimum Wage Hike Qualifies for November, Ballot,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, August 11th.
Blue Book, Colorado Legislative Council.
Support Amendment 71
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 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 is Raise the Bar.
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.
For more information on Amendment 71, read:
“CACI Supports Initiative to Tighten Requirements for Constitutional Ballot Initiatives,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, August 19th.
Blue Book, Colorado Legislative Council.
Blue Book Fiscal Impact, Colorado Legislative Council.
What If Hydraulic Fracturing Were Banned?
This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy issued its forth report in its Energy Accountability Series. This series of reports highlights the impact that public policies, and particularly extreme, anti-industry energy policies, can have on the U.S. economy.
The report is titled: What If…Hydraulic Fracturing Was Banned?, and includes an analysis of the economic consequences of banning fracking in 2017, through 2020. The report estimates that if a hydraulic fracturing ban were enacted in the United States, it could cost the U.S. economy 14.8 million jobs lost, a $1.6 trillion decrease in annual GDP, and have a $3914 cost impact per household nationwide as a result of increased energy prices.
The report also includes a stark forecast for the impacts that such an extreme policy would have on domestic energy prices. Under a national ban on hydraulic fracturing, gas prices would likely double and natural gas prices would skyrocket to nearly $12 per MMBTU, an over 400% increase from today’s prices, resulting in devastating consequences for American industries that have recently been boosted by cheap, readily available and reliable sources of energy.
The report also includes analyses of how hydraulic fracturing bans would impact specific states. The report estimates that Colorado could face the following impacts:
- 215,000 jobs lost,
- $26 billion decrease in annual GDP,
- $3486 cost impact per household in Colorado.
To view the state-specific analyses, click here.
To access the entire Energy Accountability Series, please visit Institute for 21st Century Energy’s series website: http://www.energyxxi.org/energy-accountability
If you have questions regarding this report, please contact U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Director of Advocacy & Outreach, Susan Forrester, at [email protected] or 202-463-5492; or CACI Director of Governmental Affairs, Dan O’Connell, at [email protected] or 303-866-9622.