Colorado Capitol Report

Senate Sends Regulatory Relief Bill to the House

This Capitol Report is brought to you by:

  • community-banks-of-colorado

State Policy News

Senate Sends Regulatory Relief Bill to the House

Each session, the first bills out of the chute for the majority caucus are an indication of the caucus’ top priorities for the session.  This year, for the majority Senate Republicans, the first of bills concern regulatory reform intended to ease the burden on small businesses.  The second bill is much broader in scope.

SB-1 is sponsored by Senator Tim Neville (R-Littleton), and is entitled “The Regulatory Relief Act of 2017.”

“CACI has traditionally supported bills that seek to provide regulatory relief to business, especially small companies.  Consequently, this session, we will back SB-1 and SB-2,” said Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations.

SB-1 cleared the Senate Wednesday on a bipartisan 24-to-11 vote, with the following five minority Democrats joining the majority Republicans to advance the bill to the House: Angela Williams (Denver), Cheri Jahn (Wheat Ridge), Kerry Donovan (Wolcott), Rhonda Fields (Aurora) and Dominick Moreno (Commerce City).

The House sponsor is House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock), the son of Senator Neville.

On Monday, the House amended the bill on Second Reading with the addition of a provision that defining a “minor violation” excludes “violations relating” to “Rules adopted by the Secretary of State relating to the regulation of lobbyists pursuant to Part 3 of Article 6 of Title 24.”  The bill’s fiscal note states that there will be little impact on State Government if it becomes law.

The Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee approved the bill on January 26th by a 6-to-1 vote with Democrats Angela Williams (Denver) and Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge) joining the four majority Republicans.  The lone vote against the bill was cast by Democrat Senator Andy Kerr (Lakewood).

SB-1 is described this way on the legislature’s Web site:

The bill enacts the ‘Regulatory Relief Act of 2017’. The bill includes a legislative declaration about the importance of small businesses to the Colorado economy and acknowledges the difficulty these types of businesses have in complying with state rules that are not known or understood by these businesses.

The bill requires a state agency (agency) to give a small business (which is defined in the ‘State Administrative Procedure Act’ as a business with fewer than 500 employees) a period of time to cure a first-time minor violation of a rule instead of enforcing the rule by imposing a fine. When an agency determines that a small business has committed a minor violation of a rule, instead of imposing a fine, the agency is required to notify the small business in writing of the violation, including the steps to cure the violation, and give the small business 30 business days to cure the violation. Upon a showing of good cause, the business owner may request additional time to cure the violation. If the small business owner fails to cure the minor violation within the stated time period, the agency may impose the fine on the small business. This does not apply in cases where an agency is required by statute to assess a fine for noncompliance.

The bill defines ‘minor violation’ as a violation that includes operational or administrative matters, such as record keeping, retention of data, or filing of reports, and that is enforced by a fine; except that ‘minor violation’ does not include any matter that places the safety of the public, employees, or others at risk. The bill provides exceptions from the definition of ‘minor violation’ for certain types of rules or violations.

Under current law, agencies are required to convene stakeholder groups to give input about proposed rules. The bill amends the stakeholder provision to direct agencies to make diligent attempts to notify and solicit input from representatives of small businesses about proposed rule-making, if the agency’s proposed rule-making has a potential negative impact on small businesses.

The second bill is SB-2, which is summarized this way on the Legislature’s Web site:

Current law requires each principal department to review all of its rules, in accordance with a schedule established by the department of regulatory agencies (DORA), to assess, among other things, the continuing need and cost-effectiveness of each rule. The bill repeals the DORA schedule-setting and instead requires a review and supplemental update to be completed every 3 years, commencing in 2017. Thereafter, the bill imposes a triennial schedule for reviews to be conducted.

The bill further specifies that the public and certain state agencies must be accorded no fewer than 14 business days to provide input regarding an agency’s rules during its review, and that any input received must be attached to the report setting forth the results of the rule reviews included in each agency’s departmental regulatory agenda.

SB-2, which is sponsored by Senator Beth Martinez Humenik (R-Thornton), was assigned to the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee.  The bill has been scheduled for a hearing after the Committee convenes at 2 pm on Wednesday, February 8th, in Senate Committee Room 354.  A fiscal note has not been released for the bill.

For more information on SB-1 and SB-2, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.

Federal Policy News

CACI Supports Secretary of Labor Nominee Puzder

CACI joined with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) in preparing a letter of support for Secretary of Labor nominee Andy Puzder to all U.S. Senators.

“The Senate needs to know that Mr. Puzder would be an exceptional choice to lead the Department of Labor. Today’s economic challenges demand an administration that can provide balanced labor laws and workplace regulations that reflect the dynamics of modern manufacturing.” – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

Puzder is currently the CEO of CKE Restaurants, more commonly known as Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.  In the business world, Puzder is credited with turning around both restaurant chains.  He is an outspoken opponent of a mandatory federal minimum wage, preferring for regional unemployment/employment numbers to dictate a region’s ability for businesses and workers to support increased wages.  Puzder has also staked out opposition to the “overtime rule” created under the Obama Administration.

Although Puzder’s position on the overtime rule puts him at odds with the Trump Administration, Puzder’s experience and positions are in line with CACI: that an overtime rule is detrimental for businesses of all sizes.  For the minimum wage issue, Puzder points to a non-partisan Congressional Budget Office report that found raising the minimum wage above nine dollars would lift 300,000 Americans out of poverty, but eliminate 100,000 jobs.

Challenges:  Puzder’s nomination was set for next week (2/7) but Senate Democrats plan to boycott all remaining Trump nominees, after Colorado’s 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch was nominated to replace conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  Puzder’s nomination hearing has been delayed for now but is expected to be re-scheduled within the next two weeks.

Philip Miscimarra Appointed as Acting Chair of NLRB

When Miscimarra was appointed to the NLRB in 2013 by the Obama Administration, he was approved unanimously by the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee.  Miscimarra has been recognized as the key conservative voice at the NLRB and has taken several notable stands for business on issues such as joint employer and Excelsior lists.

When the NLRB recently ruled against businesses for having social media and anti-discrimination guidelines in employee handbooks, Miscimarra published a dissenting opinion.  Miscimarra’s current term expires at the end of 2017.

Victoria Lipnic Now Acting Chair of the EEOC

Lipnic has worked on labor issues under several administrations and most recently as an Obama Administration appointee, but she has brought conservative credentials to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) since 2010.

Lipnic previously served seven years at the Department of Labor for President H.W. Bush as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards, overseeing the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division, Worker’s Compensation program and two other divisions.  She was a special assistant to U.S. Commerce Secretary Baldridge, and began her career with the House Republican Education and Workforce Committee.

At the EEOC, Lipnic is tasked with litigating cases of discrimination on behalf of the federal government.  Her current EEOC term expires July 2020.

Federal Updates

President Trump Cabinet Nominee Status:

  • James Mattis, Defense Secretary (Confirmed by Senate, 98-1)
  • John Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary (Confirmed by Senate, 88-11)
  • Nikki Haley, U.N. Ambassador (Confirmed by Senate, 96-4)
  • Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation (Confirmed, 93-6 by Senate)
  • Mike Pompeo, CIA Director – (Confirmed by Senate (66-32)
  • Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State (Confirmed by Senate, 56-43)
  • Rep. Tom Price, Health & Human Services Director (Approved by Finance Committee 14-0, after Democrats boycotted hearing for 2 days; Sen. Hatch (R-UT) changed committee rules and proceeded with nominations after 2nd day of Democrats vacating duties in committee)
  • Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary (Approved by Finance Committee 14-0, after Democrats boycotted hearing for 2 days; Hatch changed rules & proceeded with nominations after 2nd day of Democrats vacating duties in committee)
  • Rick Perry, Energy Secretary (Approved 17-6 by Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee)
  • Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary (Approved by 16-6 by Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee)
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General (Approved by Judiciary Committee, 11-9)
  • Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary (Approved by HELP Committee, 12-11) – Whip counts shows nomination stands at 50-50, meaning VP Pence may have to be deciding vote – a first for a Cabinet position
  • Andy Puzder, Secretary of Labor (Hearing before HELP Committee to take place February 7)
  • James Comey, FBI Director – Remains FBI Director as an Obama Administration appointee; role is typically a 10-yr position, serving at will of the President