In this Capitol Report:
What We’re Watching: HB 1345
The legislative session continues to heat up, and a series of environmental bills have been introduced that could have broad impacts on Colorado businesses. This week we’re watching House Bill 1345, which aims to ban the sale of products containing PFAS chemicals (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl).
These chemicals can be found in non-stick pans, carpets, food packaging, waterproof jackets and more. PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down easily, and they’ve been found to have negative health and environmental impacts – which is why many companies have started phasing PFAS chemicals out of their products and processes.
HB 1345 raises concerns due to the timeline and broad nature of the proposal. The legislation would begin banning some products known to contain PFAS starting in January 2024, with an outright ban on all products with PFAS in 2031. This timeframe could present challenges to businesses that currently don’t have practical or widely available alternatives to using the chemical.
The impacts could be far-reaching. Retailers with products that contain PFAS would be directly impacted – particularly Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry. Waterproof materials like GORE-TEX, ski wax and equipment, tents, and hiking boots are only some of the major outdoor products widely used and sold in Colorado containing PFAS.
Outside of retailers selling products containing PFAS, it could have a broad impact on Colorado’s manufacturing industry. Many manufacturers utilize PFAS compounds in their processes, from the automotive industry to electronics, aerospace and aviation, energy, textiles and more. While companies are making efforts to phase out its use, the timeline in HB 1345 could present major disruptions to operations.
Manufacturers and consumers could apply for an exemption (and pay a fee) for certain products that would be banned if the bill passes, however this comes at a cost – and the process and standards for exemption are unclear.
The Colorado Chamber’s Energy and Environment Council vote to oppose HB 1345 this week. It’s scheduled for a hearing in the House on April 14, 2022.
Chamber Government Affairs Council Votes to Oppose Two Bills on Workforce, Labor Issues
HB 1346 – OPPOSE
This bill reduces the amount of apprentices that licensed electricians or plumbers can supervise at one time. Under current law, they can only supervise three apprentices on a job site. This bill reduces the supervision ratio for nonresidential job sites to two apprentices in 2025, and one apprentice in 2028. The bill also prohibits a licensed master electrician or plumber from applying for a permit in certain circumstances.
Colorado is already struggling with a labor shortage in skilled trades, and reducing the apprenticeship ratio would only exacerbate this problem. This bill is scheduled to be heard in House Business Affairs and Labor on April 14th, 2022.
SB 161 – OPPOSE
The bill would update and modify laws pertaining to the payment of wages, employee misclassification and workplace safety and the enforcement procedures and remedies for violations of those laws.
The bill imposes new financial penalties on employers, including a $50 per day penalty for failing to provide information to the division of labor standards. It also puts additional requirements on employers surrounding wages for terminated employees. While the legislation is well intended, the level of penalties and requirements placed on businesses would be extensive. The bill is not yet scheduled for a hearing.
Leading Chamber President Announces Retirement
Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has announced that she will retire in coming months. Diane has led the Grand Junction Chamber for 33 years, in which time she doubled the chamber’s membership and established programs to promote workforce and economic development in Mesa County and beyond. She has been a powerful voice for businesses on Colorado’s Western Slope, and has served as a mentor, collaborator and ally to business groups and other chamber leaders statewide.
Schwenke was recently honored by the Association of Colorado Chambers of Commerce (ACCC) with the CEO of the Year Award. The same association also honored the Grand Junction Chamber for conceiving and implementing the 5-Star Program, which served as a statewide model for helping businesses remain open during the pandemic.
The Grand Junction Chamber’s board of directors will begin the process of selecting Schwenke’s replacement in April, and she has committed to remain on the job for as long as it takes to ensure a successful transition to her successor.
Diane has been an incredible partner with the Colorado Chamber for many many years and we will miss her incredible support and expertise on so many business related issues.