In this Capitol Report:
2022 Legislative Session Begins with Similar Political Messages…
On Wednesday, the 73rd Colorado General Assembly convened its 120 days of the 2022 Legislative Session. Leadership in both the House and Senate gave their opening speeches and the goals they outlined were similar among both Republican and Democrat caucuses including reducing the cost of living, reducing crime and increasing funding for education. Republicans were quick to remind Coloradoans of the legislation passed by the majority Democrats during the last two years that they contend contributed to many of those problems.
2022 is an election year and many hope that means restraint in passing bills that layer on more mandates and costs on businesses. All 65 House seats are up for re-election, as well as many State Senate seats. The recent redistricting process during 2021 could also contribute to a different approach at the Capitol since that process led to many changes in legislative districts subsequently changing the competitiveness of those seats. This means some legislators will not run again or may have competitive Primary and/or General elections. The Governor and all statewide officeholders (State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Attorney General), will also be on the November ballot.
Since Wednesday, 111 bills have been introduced ranging from the expansion of the senior property tax exemption, income tax changes, public safety, elimination of the School Finance Budget Stabilization Factor, behavioral health, a state contribution to PERA, wildfire mitigation, property tax exemptions for child care centers and a reduction of drivers’ license fees. As in most legislative sessions, we anticipate 700 – 800 pieces of legislation to be introduced over the next 120 days.
Links to each of the leadership speeches are provided below:
Senate Minority Leader Holbert – https://www.coloradosenaterepublicans.com/transcript-minority-leader-chris-holberts-opening-day-speech/
Later in the week, Governor Jared Polis gave his annual State-of-the-State speech to the members of the Legislature and a copy of his speech can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CCuzwr_NTf7OnyT6Qj_NQrKA_YjZaqWO/view
Key Lawmakers Preview Upcoming Health Care Legislation at Chamber Meeting
This week, the Colorado Chamber’s Health Care met for the first time in the 2022 session, where top legislative leaders discussed upcoming policy priorities.
Majority Leader Daneya Esgar joined the chamber’s policy council meeting to outline a clarification bill regarding surprise billing for out-of-network claims. The federal government recently passed a new law on the issue to protect consumers from unanticipated health care bills, while Colorado passed its own legislation in 2019. Lawmakers intend to provide clarity and consistency between the state and federal regulations, keeping a narrow focus without revisiting issues that have already been debated.
Susan Lontine, Chair of the House Health and Insurance Committee, discussed several anticipated bills for the 2022 session. Behavioral Health will be a focus of legislators, relating to federal Recovery Act funds, affordable housing, and workforce issues. There will also be a bill to address the implementation of fertility coverage for health insurers.
The Chairwoman also reviewed legislation she is planning to sponsor, including a bill to expand opportunities for Physician Assistants, many of which have been unable to work to the full extent of their training because of a lack of available jobs. She also intends to work on bills related to health care sharing ministries and the availability of hearing aid providers to utilize telehealth.
Colorado Chamber Votes to Support Several Tax Policy Bills
The Colorado Chamber’s Tax Policy Council today voted in support of 3 new bills filed at the beginning of the 2022 legislative session:
Senate Bill 32 by Bridges, Woodward, Kipp, and Van Winkle
Chamber Position: Support
This bipartisan bill is a result of Colorado’s Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force. In order to increase sales tax compliance, this bill would prohibit local jurisdictions in the state from charging certain business licensing fees.
House Bill 1027 by Van Winkle, Kipp, Woodward, and Bridges.
Chamber Position: Support
Also resulting from the Tax Simplification Task Force, this bill extends the deadline for destination sourcing rules for small retail businesses with under $100,000 in revenue from February 1, 2022 to October 1, 2022.
House Bill 1039 by Van Winkle, Kipp, Woodward, and Bridges.
Chamber Position: Support
Directs the Colorado Department of Revenue to simplify their exemption certificates.
At the Colorado Chamber’s Tax Council meeting, the Chamber also heard from guest speakers from the Colorado Department of Revenue: Mark Ferrandino (Executive Director), Brendon Reese (Senior Director, Taxation Division), Cooper Reveley (Director of Legislative Affairs), and Josh Pens (Director of Tax Policy).
Speakers from the Department of Revenue discussed upcoming tax legislation related to post certification for criminal tax inspectors, cashless payments for government entities, buyers claim to refund, cannabis issues, and a potential liquor law task force.
Notably, we can also expect bills from the Governor’s Office provide some tax relief related to fees. Specifically, lawmakers plan to file legislation that would increase the vendor fee, allowing certain small businesses to keep more, as well as freezing Driver’s License fees for the next 2 fiscal years.
Sign Up Now to Sponsor a Council Meeting
With the 2022 legislative session underway, we want to invite you to participate in Colorado Chamber councils. The Colorado Chamber councils offer a unique opportunity for our members to add their expertise and judgment to our policy-making and influence legislation and regulations that impact business. Council meetings provide an open and frank dialogue between our members, key legislators and state agency leaders. The following Councils are available to all members:
- Energy and Environment Council
- Governmental Affairs Council
- HealthCare Council
- Labor and Employment Council
- Tax Council
Each Council will meet at noon at the Colorado Chamber offices throughout the session. Lunch is served at each meeting. Sponsorship of council meetings by our members is crucial to maintaining the practice of providing lunch to each member during these important council meetings. We need sponsors for every meeting in the coming year, so we would like to encourage members to sign up now to sponsor a lunch! Sponsors receive recognition in both email reminders for the meeting and our online Events Calendar, as well as during the meeting itself. The Colorado Chamber does all of the ordering and setup of the lunch and the sponsorship is always a flat rate of $650. Please contact Laura Moss for more details or to sign up as a sponsor. Again, sponsorship by our members is essential to providing our members with lunch during these meetings; we appreciate your ongoing support!
Please see below for specific dates for each council. Councils always meet from Noon to 1:15 p.m.
- Energy & Environment Council – January 18th
- Labor & Employment Council – January 19th
- Governmental Affairs Council – January 25th
- Tax Council – February 4th
- HealthCare Council – February 10th
- Labor & Employment Council – February 16th
- Governmental Affairs Council – February 22nd
- Energy & Environment Council – February 23rd
- Tax Council – March 4th
- HealthCare Council – March 10th
- Labor & Employment Council – March 16th
- Energy & Environment Council – March 23rd
- Governmental Affairs Council – March 29th
- Tax Council – April 1st
- HealthCare Council – April 7th
- Labor & Employment Council – April 13th
- Energy & Environment Council – April 20th
- Governmental Affairs Council – April 26th
Supreme Court Blocks Federal Vaccine Mandate
The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the Biden Administration’s OSHA rules on COVID-19 vaccinations, which required employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workers are fully vaccinated or test for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.
While the OSHA rule cannot be enforced, the Supreme Court upheld the CMS rule requiring all health care workers at institutions receiving federal funds like Medicare or Medicaid be vaccinated.