In this Capitol Report:
Colorado Chamber to EPA: Proposed Rule Threatens Colorado Business Climate
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a major step in listening to the business community as it considers potential changes to Colorado’s ozone NAAQs compliance – and the ramifications those changes would have on businesses and the economy as a whole.
Today’s EPA hearing was held in direct response to a request by the Colorado Chamber’s Federal Policy Council to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in April 2019 to open up this potential EPA ruling for public comment.
As noted in the Colorado Chamber’s April letter, the opportunity to comment is a necessary step for the EPA to consider all who are invested in such an important and impactful request by the State of Colorado. Should the State’s request be granted by the EPA, Colorado’s Front Range air quality designation would go from “moderate” to “serious” nonattainment, by withdrawing the compliance extension granted just last year to then-Governor John Hickenlooper.
The business community remains deeply concerned that a downgrading and reclassification of Colorado’s Front Range (the Denver-Boulder-Greeley-Ft. Collins-Loveland, Colorado areas) would limit economic growth, lead to businesses leaving the state and unnecessarily complicate existing and new air permits essential to supporting responsible growth and addressing Colorado’s transportation challenges.
Testifying today on behalf of the Colorado Chamber were John Jacus, Chair of the Colorado Chamber’s Energy and Environment Council, and Andrea Huggins, Chair of Colorado Chamber’s Air Quality subcommittee.
“EPA’s proposed rule to reclassify the Denver area as ‘serious’ nonattainment for the 2008 ozone standard is one such very significant proposal of great concern to the Chamber and its members,” Jacus said. “We are concerned that air quality regulation will have serious negative impacts on the regional economy and the overall business climate here in Colorado… The Chamber believes EPA’s proposed determination and related deadlines unnecessarily threaten economic harm to the Denver area, and we urge EPA to modify its proposed rule accordingly.”
“From an economic perspective, the Colorado Chamber of Commerce is deeply concerned that designating Colorado as a “Serious” nonattainment area now would set the Front Range nonattainment area up for almost certain failure to attain the (Serious) standard in the timeframe mandated, and will likely require a “Severe” redesignation in just a few short years. It would also mean the Denver and North Front Range areas would likely be the sole designee of that level among our neighboring states, virtually ensuring business and population flight out of Colorado, as employers are unable to expand employment opportunities and transportation solutions potentially stagnate.” – Excerpt from the April Colorado Chamber letter to EPA
Jacus and Huggins also noted that the Colorado Chamber is truly the voice of industry in Colorado, as its members directly employ over 200,000 Coloradans in the private-sector workforce and include 40 Local Chambers of Commerce, which in turn represent over 20,000 Colorado member companies with approximately 1,000,000 employees.
To read the full testimony from Jacus and Huggins on behalf of the Colorado Chamber, please click here.
INPUT NEEDED: What Should Family & Medical Leave Look Like in Colorado?”
During the 2019 Legislative Session, a bill creating a state-run, mandated and paid family and medical leave program – to be funded by all employers and employees in Colorado – failed on a bipartisan basis due to concerns about costs and feasibility. The proposed legislation also deviated dramatically from the current Federal Family Medical Leave Act. Lawmakers decided more time was needed to thoughtfully study the issue so the bill was revised into a Task Force that has been meeting during the summer and will meet through the end of 2019.
The role of the Task Force is to provide a report to the Legislature before the 2020 Legislative Session that offers options for a fiscally responsible family and medical leave program in Colorado that the Legislature can review and consider. One of the requirements of the Task Force is to accept public comments. We would encourage you to provide your feedback on behalf of your company and its employees based on how a statewide mandated program would impact your business.
The deadline for comments is September, 27, 2019 and examples of comments could include but are not limited to:
- How would a family and medical leave program affect your business?
- What do you NOT want mandated by the State of Colorado?
- What you would prefer to see in such a program?
- What would the budgetary impact be to your company and its employees?
- Would you anticipate any changes in current wages or benefits?
- What adjustments would you make to your operations if an employee is on leave for 12-16 weeks?
- Any other comments.
Those submitting comments will only be required to submit their first name and last initial. Task-force members will then choose how much to weigh each of the comments as they move forward with recommendations. Comments should be included at the following link: https://sites.google.com/state.co.us/famli/public-comment
Comments can also be sent directly to Admira Makas at [email protected]. Or by mail to Admira Makas, Colorado Department of Labor & Employment, 251 E. 12th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203.
Colorado “Ban the Box” Law Goes Into Effect – What Employers Need to Know!
During the 2019 Legislative Session, House Bill 19-1025, commonly known as the “Ban the Box” bill, was adopted and signed by the Governor. The new law (C.R.S. § 8-2-130), goes into effect beginning September 1, 2019 and includes the following provisions that employers should be aware of:
- Prohibits employers from stating in an advertisement or on an application for a position of employment that a person with a criminal history may not apply for the position;
- Prohibits inquiring into an applicant’s criminal history on an initial application for a position of employment;
- Prohibits requiring the disclosure of an applicant’s criminal history on an initial application for a position of employment;
- The new law does allow an employer to secure a criminal background report during any later stage of the hiring process.
**The new law applies to Colorado employers with 11 or more employees beginning September 1, 2019 and apply to ALL employers beginning September 1, 2021.
Individuals may also file a complaint with the Colorado Division of Labor if they believe an employer has violated the Act and the Division will investigate those complaints. The complaint form can be retrieved here: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/CTC%20Complaint%20Form%20Sept%202019%20%283%29.pdf and additional information on the Division’s website can be found here: https://www.colorado.gov/cdle/colorado-chance-compete-act.
Please contact Loren Furman at [email protected] if you should have any questions/concerns regarding this matter.
State Auditor Seeking Business Feedback on Current Enterprise Zone Tax Credits
Please be advised that the Office of the State Auditor is doing an evaluation of the current Enterprise Zone income tax credits and exemptions allowed in Colorado statute (39-30-104, 105.1, 105.5, 105.6, and 106, C.R.S.). The evaluation will be provided to the Colorado General Assembly by January 2020, and lawmakers could decide to repeal or modify these tax credits/exemptions based on the evaluation.
With this in mind, State Auditor’s staff is seeking feedback from stakeholders regarding these tax credits and exemptions and we would strongly encourage your feedback if your company is currently using an enterprise tax credit or exemption. Information that staff is seeking includes:
- How beneficial the credit/exemption is to your business?
- Is the credit/exemption an incentive to your business to expand or create jobs in Colorado?
- Is the application process user friendly;
- What ideas do you have for improving the State’s Enterprise zone Program.
The State Auditor’s staff will be compiling the responses for their report but will not be including identifying information of those providing the responses. You may share your feedback with Loren Furman at [email protected] or directly with Kevin Amirehsani, Senior Legislative Performance Auditor, Office of the State Auditor, [email protected] or at 303.869.2899.
For more information about the tax expenditure evaluation project, please go to https://leg.colorado.gov/node/1147256.
Also please be advised that the Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force will be meeting on Wednesday, September 11, at 9:00 AM in House Committee Room 112. View a draft of the meeting agenda here.