In this Capitol Report:
- Paid Family & Medical Leave Legislation Coming…
- Executive Director of Colorado Energy Office Kicks Off Council Meeting
- Attend a Council Meeting and Hear from our Guest Speakers
- The Colorado Chamber is Hiring Part-time Membership Department Coordinator
- Who is ready for Golf Weather...Sponsor Colorado Chamber's 2019 Annual Golf Tournament
Paid Family & Medical Leave Legislation Coming…
This legislative session, a significant piece of legislation known as the paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMLI) will soon be introduced and is referred to as the proverbial 800-pound gorilla. The bill will include all businesses and government entities in Colorado that have more than one employee and will be introduced next week and heard in committee on March 13th. The bill sponsors include Senator Faith Winter (D – Westminster); Senator Angela Williams (D – Denver) and Representative Matt Gray (D – Broomfield).
In size, the FAMLI program will likely be in the ballpark of the unemployment insurance system and the workers’ compensation insurance system. Both systems involve significant funds paid by businesses and are operated by sizeable staff within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).
Attempts to pass FAMLI bills in prior sessions were defeated and notably, the prior versions did not mandate that the employer pay a portion of the worker’s premium.
2018 version: HB-1001. Once the program was up and running, the Fiscal Note estimated that the program would receive at least $59- million to $1.796 billion in premiums and bond revenue (the program could issue bonds to be repaid from premium revenue) and require 211 new Division employees.
2017 version, HB-1307. In the program’s first full year of operation, the Fiscal Note estimated that the program would receive at least $593 million in premiums and bond revenue (the program could issue bonds to be repaid from premium revenue) and require 223 new Division employees.
The 2019 Version:
The purpose of the FAMLI program is to provide “partial wage replacement benefits” for family and medical leave by employees. The bill creates a Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance as an “enterprise” in the CDLE. A state government enterprise is a quasi-independent government entity that exists outside of gubernatorial and legislative control. Many provisions of the FAMLI bill pertain to the establishment/operation of the program along with the eligibility criteria and process for applying for leave and receiving benefits.
Issues for Employers to Consider:
The following include some of the major points that are being discussed and debated between the business community and the legislative sponsors include:
- The bill covers all employers, both public and private, and all sizes of employers. (Sole proprietorships can exempt themselves from the program.) There will be no exception for employers that already have family-leave policies and programs, whether unpaid or paid.
- The employer and employee will share the cost of the premium 50/50;
- The new FAMLI Division has five days to notify an employer after it receives a claim for leave from a worker;
- Employers will be required to maintain the position during the duration of the employees’ leave;
- A worker can take leave to care for an immediate family member, and for someone with whom the worker has “a significant personal bond that is or is like a family relationship…”
- A worker can take up to 12 weeks in a 52-week period. But, if there is a “separate qualifying event,” the worker can take another four weeks.
- Bill needs to be clarified to ensure that a worker cannot take 12 weeks under the Colorado FAMLI program and an additional 12 weeks under the Federal FMLA. A worker who takes leave should concurrently take leave under the Federal FMLA to prevent “stacking” by the worker.
- Employers will be required to administer the program, but they will not be reimbursed by the program for their administrative cost. The employer would be required to deduct the premium from the worker each pay period and add the employer’s match and then send the total amount to the FAMLI program fund.
- The premium in the first year of operation will be 0.52 percent. After that, the director of the new FAMLI Division will have the power to adjust the premium percentage to ensure the financial viability of the program.
- The premium percentage will be applied to a worker’s compensation up to the annual “contribution and benefit base limited established annually by the federal Social Security Administration for purposes of the federal Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Program limits . . . “ In other words, the premium percentage will not apply to compensation paid a worker that is greater than the “contribution and benefit base.” For 2019, this amount is $132,900.
- An employer could not force a worker to first take vacation leave, sick leave, personal leave or any other leave before taking FAMLI leave.
A small number of other states have enacted similar programs, which are in varying states of implementation: California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Washington.
Colorado Chamber of Commerce’s Role
Loren Furman, Colorado Chamber’s Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, and Larry Hudson, lobbyist for the Colorado Chamber have been involved in discussions with the legislative sponsors and proponents for weeks and are working with a business coalition that includes individual businesses, business organizations, local chambers of commerce, trade associations and local-government representatives. All of these entities have would like to see changes to the bill based on concerns raised with prior draft bills.
Attorneys who practice in this area and have been working with Loren and Larry include:
- Stacey Campbell, Chair, Colorado Chamber Labor and Employment Council, and Shareholder, Campbell Litigation;
- Brooke Colaizzi, Member, Sherman & Howard;
- Benjamin Hase, Managing Attorney, Employers Council; and
- Dan Block, Shareholder, Robinson, Waters & O’Dorisio
News Media Coverage
“Few Colorado workers get paid time off to care for a new baby or a sick family member. Changing that is a key goal for Democrats,” by Jennifer Brown, The Colorado Sun, February 18th.
Chamber members with questions should contact Loren Furman at 303.866.9642
Executive Director of Colorado Energy Office Kicks Off Council Meeting
Will Toor, the newly-appointed Executive Director of the Colorado Energy Office, visited the Chamber’s Energy & Environment Policy Council meeting on Wednesday, February 27th. He laid out Gov. Polis’ priorities for the office, including transportation electrification and encouraging renewable energy use.
The Council also discussed updates to the federal “Waters of the U.S.” rule and its impact on Colorado, as well as upcoming legislation at the State Capitol.
Council Votes to Oppose House Bill 1188, Amend House Bill 1113
The Chamber’s Energy and Environment Council took new positions on several bills under consideration at the capitol:
- The Council voted to oppose House Bill 1188, by Reps. Emily Sirota and Marc Snyder. The bill would require future fiscal notes on legislation to include an assessment of whether the measure is likely to directly cause a net increase or decrease in greenhouse gas pollution in the 10-year period following its enactment. The bill is scheduled for a hearing Monday, March 4 in the House Energy & Environment committee.
- The Council voted to amend House Bill 1113, by Sen. Kerry Donovan and Reps. Dylan Roberts and Barbara McLachlan, which broadly impacts the mining industry and permitting. The chamber previously opposed the legislation as filed. Recent changes have prompted the council to pursue additional amendments. The bill is set in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, March 7.
Attend a Council Meeting and Hear from our Guest Speakers
Policy Councils are at the core of the Colorado Chamber’s work and provide an opportunity for dialogue between our members, key legislators and state agency leaders. Influential guest speakers for upcoming councils are listed below
March 8th: Cary Kennedy, Senior Advisor for Fiscal Policy, Office of the Governor
Energy & Environment:
March 27th: Representative Chris Hansen, Joint Budget Committee and Chair of Appropriations Committee
April 17th: Doug Benevento, EPA Region 8 Administrator
Please visit our online calendar for a complete list of council meetings.
The Colorado Chamber is Hiring Part-time Membership Department Coordinator
The Colorado Chamber membership team has an immediate opening for a part-time membership department coordinator. This role supports the Membership Department, particularly the senior vice president.
This is a Special Opportunity – The membership department coordinator, along with performing the duties of the job, engages in many interesting experiences including: meeting Colorado business leaders, attending meetings during which key business issues are discussed, and attending large events with notable business and political speakers. Please note: we’re looking for someone focused on a part-time position for a sustained period of time.
The job is about 25 hours per week, three or four days (starting with four days) in our office. Benefits are not included as this is a part-time role. Full Job Description.
Contact: David Tabor, Senior Vice President of Business Partnerships, DTabor@COchamber.com.
Who is ready for Golf Weather...Sponsor Colorado Chamber's 2019 Annual Golf Tournament