Colorado Capitol Report

Employers Likely to Pay A LOT More in Unemployment Insurance Premiums

Employers Likely to Pay A LOT More in Unemployment Insurance Premiums

This week, the Colorado Chamber staff and other interest groups met with the Colorado Department of Labor (CDLE) staff to receive an update on the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund deficit and its impact on all Colorado employers.
Currently the Trust Fund has a deficit of $1.1 BILLION based on the thousands of unemployment claims made between 2020 and 2021. Within that time, many employers were forced to lay off employees due to government restrictions, forced shut-downs, or inability to maintain their current level of operations due to the pandemic.
Governor Polis and the Colorado General Assembly have the authority to help mitigate the impact to employers by backfilling the Trust Fund with federal stimulus dollars similar to other states that have experienced a deficit. The CDLE staff, the Colorado Chamber and others in the business community have strongly encouraged state leaders to provide relief to employers with federal stimulus funds that Colorado has received.
Takeaways from the CDLE Update:
  • $1.1 Billion deficit as of August, 2020;
  • The Federal gov’t has loaned Colorado funds to continue to pay UI claims – interest on the loans = $63,300 per day;
  • Employer’s total annual premium is determined by multiplying their individual rate by the total amt of their wages subject to UI premiums;
  • Wage base will increase to $17,000 as of 2022 based on legislation passed in 2020;
  • Premiums for employers at the lowest rate schedule could increase by 73% or more.
As a reminder, an employer’s UI premium is based on its experience rating, therefore, an employer who has not had to lay off workers pays a lower premium rate, while employers who have had to lay off workers pay a higher rate.
Colorado Chamber Senior VP of Gov’t Affairs, Loren Furman, will be speaking to the Legislative Task Force on Economic Recovery next week and will share the devastating impact these increased premiums will have on employers.  She will encourage the Task Force members to use federal stimulus dollars to help mitigate the impact.
Please contact Loren Furman at [email protected] with any questions regarding this matter.

What’s Coming on Air Quality and Environmental Issues

Colorado environmental regulations have been the source of much debate in state politics over the last several years. Lawmakers and agency officials have proposed and are implementing sweeping new policies, from oil and gas regulations to emissions reduction targets.

Majority Leader Steve Fenberg recently wrote about what’s coming next in the world of air quality and environmental issues. The first issue on his list is electrification as a strategy to reduce emissions in Colorado. We expect our elected officials to continue to push for electrification policies on new construction, retrofitting old buildings, and move the state away from fossil fuel.

The Majority Leader also named investing in transit as a top environmental priority, getting cars off the road and moving to electric public transit. In addition, he emphasized the need to “hold polluters accountable” by better enforcing current laws and shutting down coal and gas plants. Read more about Sen. Fenberg’s plans below.

In addition to Sen. Fenberg’s comments, there are several other issues that the Colorado Chamber anticipates coming up as we approach 2022. First, there are discussions of making the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) a professional board similar to the Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC), which would remove much of the current executive branch power over the agency.

Finally, the controversial Employee Trip Reduction Program could make its way into the 2022 session as a statewide legislative proposal. There are also discussions of mandating work-from-home policies for particular industries. We are monitoring these issues closely and will continue to update our members as new developments occur.

Additional reading:

Majority Leader Fenberg’s Comments on Environmental Issues

Update on Public Option Rulemaking

The Colorado Option rulemaking stakeholder meetings started in late July. Last Friday marked the fifth of six meetings hosted by the Division of Insurance (DOI) staff, which are intended to gain public feedback on the plan design and cost sharing. In that time, the DOI has announced the Colorado Option Director, Kyla Hoskins, as well as introduced the standardized plan options and proposed rules.

Director Hoskins has a background in program implementation and consumer advocacy, and will oversee the process under DOI and Commissioner Conway. Here profile and background can be accessed here.

The standardized plan options will be tiered the same as the Exchange program:  Gold, Silver and Bronze plans, and the proposals can be viewed here. The final Colorado Option standardized plan will be shared with stakeholders on Thursday November 4th.  At the most recent meeting on October 8th, DOI reviewed the standardized plan proposals and discussed the considerations throughout the process, including meeting the intent of the enabling legislation. Their presentation can be viewed here.

Additionally, DOI has released their proposed rules, which can be reviewed here. Please submit your comments on this draft proposed emergency regulation no later than 5 PM, October 20, 2021, to: [email protected]. If you do submit comments, and are able to share them with the Chamber, we would love to consider them as we compose our comments.

If you would like to listen to any of the previous meetings or access the presentations, you can find them here. Please email Katie Wolf, [email protected] with any questions.