Colorado Capitol Report

Colorado Chamber Government Affairs Council Hears from Senate Leadership on Family Leave, Data Privacy

Colorado Chamber Government Affairs Council Hears from Senate Leadership on Family Leave, Data Privacy

This week, the Colorado Chamber’s Government Affairs Council heard from chiefs of staff for Senate leadership about their priorities for the remainder of the legislative session.

A primary topic of discussion was a family and medical leave bill, which is expected to be filed in the coming weeks. James Lucero, chief of staff for the Senate Majority Office, and Tim Greisman, chief of staff for the Senate Minority Office, offered their perspectives on what the legislation might look like. Lucero said the Senate Majority Office is hoping for a collaborative solution that will bring together as many stakeholders as possible. The minority caucus isn’t enthusiastic about some of the options that have been discussed, but is reserving judgment until a bill is filed.

The speakers also addressed the issue of data privacy. While there haven’t been any bills filed yet, the Colorado Chamber has been engaging with member companies on the issue and presenting feedback to lawmakers interested in filing legislation. Greisman and Lucero said that while they aren’t aware of a comprehensive or omnibus package in the works right now, data privacy is a priority for members of both parties. The Colorado Chamber and business community will continue to monitor potential legislation on the issue.

The Government Affairs Council also voted on several bills this week:

House Bill 1142 – Oppose

HB 1142 creates a fee on certain commercial insurance premiums in order to fund a vague $4.5 million program within the Department of Public Safety to apply for federal hazard mitigation grants. There’s no cap on the fee, so as premiums rise, more money would be collected. Members of the Colorado Chamber believe that this should be a state priority and shouldn’t fall on the backs of business.

House Bill 1227 – Oppose

This bill mandates that one provider have exclusive access to every telecom network in order to put distracted driving software on phones in Colorado. Chamber members in the telecom industry have concerns about opening up their networks to third parties, among other problematic aspects of the legislation.

House Bill 1195 – Oppose

Referred to as the “Consumer Digital Repair Bill Of Rights,” HB 1195 would require manufacturers of certain electronic devices, like cell phones and tablets, to provide their parts, software and other tools to independent repair providers and allow them to provide maintenance and repair services on their products.

Health Care Council Examines Impact of Public Option Proposal

On Thursday, the Colorado Chamber’s Health Care Policy Council hosted Chris Brown and Rick Rush from the REMI Partnership for an in-depth discussion of a public option proposal in Colorado.

Brown and Rush posed key questions about a report that was released in November 2019 outlining the blueprint for a potential public option plan by the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) and Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

The proposal would initially impact individual health insurance plans with the goal of expanding to employer sponsored plans in the future. Among other things, the proposal would mandate that health insurance companies offer a public option for individual plans and would allow the state to set the rates that hospitals or providers are allowed to charge for their services under the plan. The Colorado Chamber has expressed concerns over how such a proposal would impact business. A bill is expected to be filed in the legislature in the coming weeks.

When considering a massive program like a public option, it’s important to think about how it will impact all aspects of the health care system in all of its complexity. The presentation from REMI Partnership looked at the proposal from multiple perspectives – including insured individuals, uninsured individuals, employers, hospitals, and insurance carriers.

Several problems and unintended consequences could result from a public option modeled after the DOI report:

  • In order to lower rates for individual plans, costs will inevitably be shifted to employer-sponsored plans. This could incentivize employers to drop their plans and shift employees into the individual marketplace.
  • Insurance carriers will be squeezed by new administrative costs and mandates, which could cause them to leave the state of Colorado.
  • Hospitals will inevitably face lower revenue and it won’t happen in a vacuum. As private entities, they will have to make business decisions in response.
  • The proposal would have a minimal impact on lowering Colorado’s uninsured rate.
  • Allowing the state to set commercial insurance rates could set a precedent both locally and nationally.
  • It’s unclear how this program would be impacted by other major changes happening in the health care market in Colorado and nationally, from reinsurance to other state legislation to legal fights over the Affordable Care Act at the federal level.

The Colorado Chamber and its members are closely monitoring the issue in the General Assembly as we await bill language for the public option plan.

The Health Care Council also took positions on several bills at the February 13th meeting:

HB 1198 – Oppose
Imposes requirements regarding the administration of prescription drug benefits under health benefit plans.

SB 119 – Oppose
Expands the Canadian prescription drug importation program.

SB 127 – Support
Concerning creation of the health benefit plan design change review committee to conduct actuarial reviews of legislation affecting health benefit plan requirements.

SB 163 – Support
The Colorado Healthy Communities Act, concerning the modernization of the school entry immunization process.

HB 1158 – Amend
Concerning insurance coverage for infertility.

The Colorado Chamber Welcomes Wagner Equipment

Colorado Chamber’s Lauren Schwartz (front row) visits with members of the Wagner Equipment leadership team (from left to right): Brad Cofield, Bruce Wagner, Ryan Headley, Chris Cahal, Kevin Pomeroy and Bob VanGorder.

With 20 locations in Colorado, Wagner Equipment employs 1000+ individuals across our state. Established in 1976, Wagner is one of only 48 Caterpillar dealers nationwide serves Colorado, New Mexico and far west Texas with rentals, sales and service of CAT machines for heavy construction, building construction, mining, waste handling, paving, municipal and governmental applications, forestry and more.

Wagner also represents Challenger and Massey Ferguson equipment for the agriculture industry. Other products sold and rented by Wagner include air compressors, trailers, machine work tools, implements and crushing and screening systems. Their small machine subsidiary, Wagner Rents – the Cat Rental Store, handles Cat compact machines, telehandlers and a wide range of contractor’s equipment, tools and supplies for rent or purchase. Wagner’s Power Systems Division provides Caterpillar engines, generator sets and related equipment used to power trucks, provide electric power to buildings, utilities and job sites, run crushers and other industrial systems, and move petroleum and natural gas.

The Colorado Chamber Truly Appreciates Our Policy Council Supporters!

During the legislative session, our 6 policy councils meet each month to discuss the hundreds of bills that are introduced every legislative Session. The Councils include: Health Care Council; Tax Council; Energy & Environment Council; Labor & Employment Council; Governmental Affairs Council; Federal Council.

Colorado Chamber members serve on each of these Councils and provide significant expertise on policy issues and guidance to our lobby team on legislation.

We are very grateful to the supporters and sponsors of our Councils which include:

  • Aurora Chamber of Commerce
  • Colorado Rural Electric Association
  • Deloitte
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Sherman & Howard
  • Waste Management

If you wish to sponsor a council, please contact Laura Moss at [email protected].