The key priority of the Colorado Chamber of Commerce this legislative session has been opposing Senate Bill 188, the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) bill. Last night, after many months of working with lawmakers and alerting members of the business community to take action, the bill was entirely replaced to reflect the range of concerns raised about the bill.
The Colorado Chamber has been part of a coalition of organizations that have been involved in trying to improve this legislation since the sponsors began working on it last summer. From its failure to align with federal law, to its broad definitions and coverage, to the serious fiscal solvency risks posed by the program, the original FAMLI bill would have imposed major burdens on employers of all sizes. It also would have had unintended consequences, hurting the employees it was intending to help.
More than 75 public and private entities joined the list of opposition to the bill, representing a wide range of industries, thousands of businesses, all 272 cities and towns, and over one million workers statewide. Over the last several months, lawmakers were flooded with calls and emails from members of this coalition. The grassroots support activated by our efforts was key to securing the changes achieved last night.
The new version of the bill, given preliminary approval on the Senate floor last night, takes a more cautious and thoughtful approach to the issue of family leave in the state, starting with an actuarial study and requiring legislative action next year to move forward with any program. Key provisions are as follows:
• It creates a Task Force to be appointed by the Governor and General Assembly;
• The Task Force will study options for a third party to run a family leave program;
• It requires a study of the costs and financial impact of a family and medical leave program;
• It requires recommendations be presented to members of the General Assembly and the Governor.
• The General Assembly will have to introduce a new bill next session to implement the program based on the results of the study. This was clarified in an amendment offered by Senate Republicans.
The amended bill will be heard on the Senate floor again today on third reading and will then go to the House for consideration.