In this Capitol Report:
- FAMLI Bill Hearing Set for Next Wednesday
- House Committee Advances Local-Option Minimum-Wage Increase Bill
- Colorado Chamber Testifies Against Oil and Gas Bill
- Welcome New Colorado Chamber Partners
- EXECs Advocacy Program Kicks-Off
- Attend a Council Meeting and Hear from our Guest Speakers
- Who is ready for Golf Weather...Sponsor Colorado Chamber's 2019 Annual Golf Tournament
- Federal Policy Spotlight:
FAMLI Bill Hearing Set for Next Wednesday
The long-awaited paid family-and medical leave bill known as the FAMLI Act was introduced yesterday to be heard by a Senate committee next Wednesday afternoon.
The bill, SB-188, does not yet have a published Fiscal Note. In size, the FAMLI program will likely be in the ballpark of the unemployment insurance system, which involves premiums paid by businesses and employees and is operated by sizeable staff within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).
The bill’s sponsors are Senator Faith Winter (D – Westminster) and Senator Angela Williams (D – Denver) and Representatives Matt Gray (D – Broomfield) and Monica Duran (D – Denver).
The bill is scheduled to be heard Wednesday, March 13th, when the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee convenes for a meeting at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Committee Room 354 at the State Capitol.
Summary of Bill
Here’s the bill’s summary as written by the non-partisan staff of the Legislative Council:
The bill creates the family and medical leave insurance (FAMLI) program and the division of family and medical leave insurance (division) in the department of labor and employment to provide partial wage replacement benefits to an eligible individual who takes leave from work:
! To care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition;
! Because the eligible individual is unable to work due to the individual’s own serious health condition or because the individual or a family member is the victim of abusive behavior; or
! Due to certain needs arising from a family member’s active duty service.
Each employee and employer in the state will pay one-half the cost of a premium as specified in the bill, which premium is based on a percentage of the employee’s yearly wages. The premiums are deposited into the family and medical leave insurance fund, and family and medical leave benefits are paid to eligible individuals from the fund. The division is established as an enterprise, and premiums paid into the fund are not considered state revenues for purposes of the taxpayer’s bill of rights (TABOR).
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. In other words, the FAMLI program will operate as a “government-run business.”
Colorado Chamber’s Concerns
- The bill fails to align with the Federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which could result in potential “stacking” of leave in which a worker could be on leave for six months or more – 12+ weeks under FAMLI and 12 weeks under FMLA based on the following reasons:
- The broad definition of family member of someone the worker has “a significant personal bond with that is or is like a family relationship.”
- Eligibility requirements differ between federal law and the state program as proposed.
- There are no exemptions: it will be mandatory for employers of all sizes, both public and private, regardless of whether they already offer a paid leave program. The cumulative effect of these requirements will be burdensome to small and medium-sized employers, especially if they don’t currently fall under the federal FMLA (less than 50 employees).
- A worker can take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 52-week period. For a “separate qualifying event,” the worker can take another four weeks of leave. All sized employers will have to maintain the position for the full duration of this leave.
- An employer cannot require a worker to take the current benefits that the employer offers, before taking the state FAMLI leave.
- Workers will be required to provide a 30-day notice for leave, and CDLE will be responsible for approving it for each worker. CDLE will have five days to notify an employer after it receives a claim for leave.
- The initial premium will be 0.52%, split 50/50 between the employee and employer. 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 – there is no cap on future costs.
Chamber members with questions should contact Loren Furman at 303.866.9642
News Media Coverage
“Colorado workers would get 12 weeks’ paid family leave under new bill—but they have to pay, too,” by Anna Staver, The Denver Post, March 7th.
“Here’s what is in the paid-family -leave bill coming this week at the legislature,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 6th.
“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.
House Committee Advances Local-Option Minimum-Wage Increase Bill
The House Transportation and Local Government Committee this afternoon amended and approved HB-1210, a bill that would allow local governments to unilaterally increase the minimum wage above that of the state minimum wage.
The committee adopted an amendment that allows a county and the municipalities within the county to enter into an intergovernmental agreement concerning an increase in the minimum wage.
The amended bill was approved on a 6-to-5 vote and sent to the House Floor for Second Reading Debate. Democrat Representative Don Valdez (La Jara) joined the Committee’s four Republicans to oppose the bill.
The Colorado Chamber opposes the bill as introduced, as it opposed similar measures that were proposed in the 2015 (HB-1300) and 2018 (HB-1368) legislative sessions. However, it will continue to persuade legislators to amend the bill to address its concerns.
The bill’s Fiscal Note, prepared by non-partisan legislative staff, provides a summary and background of the introduced measure:
Summary of Legislation
Current state law prevents local governments from enacting minimum wage laws separate from those of the state. This bill repeals that provision and allows local governments to establish minimum wage laws for individuals performing work while physically present within their jurisdictions through their governing body, an initiative, or referendum. Local minimum wages may exceed the state and federal minimum wages. A local government that establishes a local minimum wage may adopt provisions for local enforcement of the minimum wage law.
The authority to enact a local government minimum wage applies to a city, home rule city, town, territorial charter city, city and county, county, and home rule county.
Colorado’s minimum wage. Prior to 2007, Colorado’s minimum wage law was set by federal law. In 2006, Colorado voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that raised the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.85 per hour beginning in 2007, and from $2.13 per hour to $3.83 per hour for tipped workers. In 2016, Colorado voters again amended the state constitution to increase the state minimum wage from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour beginning on January 1, 2017, after which it increases annually by $0.90 per hour until it reaches $12.00 per hour on January 1, 2020. Beginning January 1, 2021, it will be adjusted each year thereafter by the increase in the Consumer Price Index. The federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 per hour, and $2.13 for tipped workers.
Loren Furman, Colorado Chamber Senior Vice President, State and Federal Policy, testified against the proposal. Here’s an edited version of Loren’s prepared testimony:
In hearing just today about amendment L001, I will be bringing that amendment back to our members for them to review because I believe that it will be good step in the right direction;
I’m mystified as to why we need this bill. Colorado is going to have one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country once the 2018 ballot measure goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
We should really think about how that will impact businesses first before we consider such a complicated bill as HB-1210.
First, I want to raise the issue of compliance. Many of you have heard me complain plenty about the nightmare that businesses are experiencing with multi-jurisdiction tax compliance.
This situation is no different in my mind. Allowing 64 counties and 272 municipalities the ability to set their own minimum wage for employers in their jurisdiction is going to cause a ridiculous amount of complications for businesses.
Let’s start with the likelihood of a worker employed for one company but who changes shifts in different jurisdictions around the State? How does a business know what to pay that worker who is moving around?
Or, let’s use the example of an Outback steakhouse. Outback has locations in several different cities. What is stopping a worker from quitting his or her job in Denver and going to work in Aurora because the wage is higher? The restaurant has no control over the decision of the city or county in that situation to increase the minimum wage and loses that employee.
Second, let’s talk about the enforcement provisions of this bill. I have worked with a lot of cities and counties over the years that want to partner with businesses that operate and create tax revenue in their jurisdictions.
This enforcement language, however, is not coming from the cities and counties. This legal enforcement language has been added not just in this bill but to multiple bills being introduced this Session. It’s blatantly obvious why: so more lawsuits can be filed against businesses.
Setting hundreds of new wage rates, and increasing compliance complications for employers, especially for smaller firms, through this bill will result in many of them unintentionally getting it wrong.
The compliance language will create higher litigation costs not just for employers but for workers, and how will a worker know where to go to with a complaint?
Does the employee use the state administrative process through Colorado Department of Labor and Employment? The city’s administrative process? A county’s administrative/legal remedies? Or does the worker just file a lawsuit in court as this provision of the bill is clearly encouraging?
In the end, when we see this type of language adopted, it’s the lawyers that end up getting paid–and not the workers who this bill is intended to help.
I encourage you to either vote NO on this bill or improve this bill dramatically by adopting amendment L001 and removing the draconian legal remedies contained in the introduced bill.
For More Information
Colorado Chamber members with questions about HB-1210 should contact Loren at 303.866.9642. The Chamber created a fact sheet that was distributed to the Committee members prior to the hearing. The Chamber also joined the Colorado Restaurant Association, the Colorado Retail Council and the Tavern League of Colorado in producing a joint fact sheet to be distributed to Committee members.
News Media Coverage
“Colorado Democrats bring back twice-killed bill to allow cities, counties to raise minimum wage,” by Ed Sealover The Denver Business Journal, February 25th.
“Colorado Democrats seek to let Denver, other cities raise their minimum wage,” by Anna Staver, The Denver Post, February 25th.
Colorado Chamber Testifies Against Oil and Gas Bill
The long-awaited bill sponsored by legislative Democrats and backed by Gov. Jared Polis that would greatly alter oil and gas production in Colorado was introduced Friday, March 1st, and passed through the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, March 7th.
SB-181, “Protect Public Welfare Oil And Gas Operations,” is sponsored by House Speaker KC Becker (D-Boulder) and Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg (D-Boulder).
In the Senate Finance Committee, the Colorado Chamber testified that it was opposed to the bill due to concerns on the impact certain provisions in the bill will have on state revenues and Colorado’s economy. Most concerning are the provisions authorizing a potential moratorium on new permits and the provisions that may cause an operator to choose to stop or reduce its operations in Colorado, both of which would lower state revenues
The 27-page introduced bill would generally, among other things:
- Empower local governments’ authority to regulate various aspects of oil-and-gas production;
- Direct the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to regulate the industry to emphasize public safety and the environment over production, a sharp change from its current statutory directive to balance the two objectives.
- Alter the composition of the Commission to decrease from three to one the number of energy-industry representatives and increase representation with individuals with backgrounds in environmental protection; wildlife protection; environmental protection; soil conservation/reclamation; agriculture production or royalty owner; and public health training/experience.
Welcome New Colorado Chamber Partners
The Colorado Chamber is pleased to welcome the following partner companies and organizations that support a healthy, competitive business climate for Colorado:
EXECs Advocacy Program Kicks-Off
The EXECs Advocacy Program kicked-off its nine-month tour schedule on February 13th with a casual meet and greet at the Colorado Chamber office. The program is currently hosting 28 emerging leaders representing a wide breadth of Colorado industries.
The group returned this week for a tour of the Capitol building and participate in a Government 101 lecture from Joe Rice, Director of Government Relations for Lockheed Martin Space. Joe is also a former member of the Colorado State House of Representatives and former Mayor of the City of Glendale. Joe spoke to the legislative process, lobbying, and dissected the Colorado budget into more palatable fragments. He also took a few moments to clarify a lingering questions EXECs had regarding their time in the gallery, viewing the morning House session, and answered more direct questions relating to numbers of bills introduced during a legislative session and how legislators fill their time when they are out of session.
The EXECs group will venture out of downtown Denver in April, heading to the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center. Rick Medwedeff, General Manager of the Gaylord Rockies, will host a tour and discuss how he and his staff manage nearly 500,000 square feet of exhibition space and 1501 guest rooms. Additionally, he will cover the extensive back end of the hotel and touch on the Gaylord brand’s holiday programming, “Ice!” We are also looking forward to a panel discussion that includes Rick Medwedeff, Kevin Hougen, President/CEO of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, and Cathy Ritter, Director of the Colorado Tourism Office.
The EXECs Advocacy Program is a 9-month program that offers exclusive insight into the workings of prominent Colorado companies through business tours and policy-based forums with key Colorado executives and officials. Participants learn about policy issues impacting their business and community while developing a working understanding of business advocacy. Tours will be fascinating “insider” looks at businesses while integrating policy issues focused around Healthcare, Labor & Employment, Tax, Energy & Environment, Manufacturing, and Federal Affairs.
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
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.
Who is ready for Golf Weather...Sponsor Colorado Chamber's 2019 Annual Golf Tournament