Colorado Capitol Report

Biden Administration Releases Details on Federal Vaccine Mandate


Biden Administration Releases Details on Federal Vaccine Mandate

The mandate comes in the form of two separate rules from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). According to the White House, approximately two-thirds of all workers in the U.S. will be covered by these rules.

Under the OSHA Rule:

  • Employers with 100 or more employees must either ensure that each of their workers is fully vaccinated or test for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.
    • All covered employers must ensure that any employees who have not received the necessary shots begin producing a verified negative test to their employer on at least a weekly basis, and they must remove from the workplace any employee who receives a positive COVID-19 test or is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed health care provider.
    • The rule does not require employers to provide or pay for tests, however, employers may be required to pay for testing because of other laws or collective bargaining agreements.
  • These employers must provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, as well as sick leave to recover from any side effects.
  • These employers must require that all unvaccinated employees wear a mask in the workplace.
  • This rule preempts any inconsistent state or local law.
  • While the testing requirement for unvaccinated workers will begin after January 4th, employers must be in compliance with all other requirements – such as providing paid-time for employees to get vaccinated and masking for unvaccinated workers – on December 5th.

Under the CMS Rule:

  • All health care workers participating in Medicare or Medicaid must be fully vaccinated.
  • The rule applies to employees regardless of whether their positions are clinical or non-clinical and includes employees, students, trainees, and volunteers who work at a covered facility that receives federal funding from Medicare or Medicaid.
    • The rule also includes individuals who provide treatment or other services for the facility under contract or other arrangements.
  • Facilities covered by the rule include: hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dialysis facilities, home health agencies, and long-term care facilities.
  • This rule preempts any inconsistent state or local law.

Additional details for both rules:

  • The deadline for workers to receive their shots will be January 4th, 2022.
  • To be considered fully vaccinated, workers must have received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson.
  • OSHA will not apply its new rule to workplaces covered by either the CMS rule or the federal contractor vaccination requirement.

If you have any questions about these new rules, please reach out to Loren Furman at lfurman@cochamber.com. 

Resources:

Main Department of Labor Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) page: https://www.osha.gov/vaccinationETS

Department of Labor Resources About the Standard:

White House Fact Sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/04/fact-sheet-biden-administration-announces-details-of-two-major-vaccination-policies/


Colorado Chamber Recognized for Outstanding Membership Growth

This week, the Colorado Chamber’s membership team was recognized by the Association of State Chamber Professionals (ASCP) for excelling in Chamber membership growth and revenue.

The Colorado Chamber was named the top state chamber in 2021 for “Greatest Growth in Membership Dues” and was given an honorable mention for “Greatest Growth in Total Revenue.”

Each year the ASCP recognizes state chambers that have excelled in areas of membership growth, membership retention, and non-dues revenue. The award winners were announced during the Awards Ceremony during the 2021 ASCP Annual Conference held in Indianapolis.

Congrats to our incredible membership team – Dave, Lauren, Julie and Priscilla – for this well-deserved recognition!


Gov. Polis Releases Budget Proposal to Accelerate Economic Recovery

This week, Governor Jared Polis released his budget proposal for the 2022-23 fiscal year. The budget addresses a number of major challenges facing the Colorado business community and helps put the state on track for economic recovery.

Unemployment Insurance Relief:

One of the most significant issues the governor’s budget addresses is the looming unemployment insurance (UI) premium increases facing Colorado employers. The Colorado Chamber has raised concerns that if this issue isn’t addressed, many businesses could face exponential increases to their UI premiums, which will pose a major burden on the state’s economy. Polis wants to dedicate $600 million to help backfill the state’s unemployment trust fund to help support businesses and their employees. The $600 million would be split to both pay off the state’s federal debt and help pay for upcoming unemployment tax increases on businesses. This would provide significant relief at a critical time.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Premium Relief:

Beginning in January 2023, businesses and employees are on the hook to start paying into the state’s paid family and medical leave insurance fund passed by Proposition 118 last year. Gov. Polis’ budget proposal prepays the first 6 months of premiums for both employees and employers, dedicating $50 million into the program.

Other Key Issues:

Polis’ budget also seeks to address workforce shortages that many businesses are experiencing. Workforce shortages have impacted businesses across the nation, and Colorado is no exception. The budget would dedicate more than $50 million in programs to help businesses find talent, while also providing training opportunities for workers.

In addition, the governor’s proposal would make other critical investments to help revitalize our economy, like incentives to start a new business and reducing homelessness. More details on the proposal can be found below.

Overall, the governor’s balanced budget proposal is good for both employers and employees, helps businesses recover and hire workers, and provides opportunities for more Coloradans. Lawmakers will be tasked with writing and passing a budget when they return to the capitol in January.

Key budget items for Colorado businesses:

  • A historic $1.84 billion investment to prepay some of the state’s most important programs to ensure funding of these essential services and protect our future fiscal foundation.
  • This request builds on joint efforts with the General Assembly and Joint Budget Committee earlier this year to set a historic state General Fund reserve of 15% to better prepare Colorado for economic uncertainty.
  • $600 million for Relief from Pandemic-Related Unemployment Insurance charges to save employers money and protect worker wages
  • $104 Million in fee relief for individuals and businesses, including making it free to start a business, FAMLI Paid family and medical leave premium relief, and healthcare professionals fee relief.
  • $5M to help workers find in-demand opportunities
  • $51 million to help businesses find workers and helping workers find good-paying jobs through short-term credentials and apprenticeships
  • $30M to create more child care facilities; Colorado can create more child care options for hard-working Coloradans by renovating existing state buildings, including higher education institutions, so that these facilities can be used as child care centers for the public, state employees, and students. This effort will increase the supply of child care for Colorado’s workforce and help build the workforce of the future.
  • $200 million in investments from the Economic Recovery and Relief Cash Fund to be used to leverage local and other funding to reduce homelessness.

The governor’s proposal can be viewed here.