In this Capitol Report:
The Unified Voice of Chambers Across Colorado
The mission of the Colorado Chamber has always been to advocate for businesses statewide and champion a healthy business climate in all four corners of the state. In an effort to be the best representative for all Colorado businesses the Chamber has worked hard to partner with local chambers so the unified voice of Colorado businesses can be heard.
Part of the Chamber’s initiative to engage with businesses statewide continued this week with our “State of State” Business Briefing in the Roaring Fork Valley and a legislative overview in Mesa County for local businesses. The Chamber was able to connect with the Grand Junction, Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Colorado River Valley, and Glenwood Springs Chambers of Commerce on Monday and Tuesday to meet with Chamber members across the region and hear about the business concerns in their communities.
The event offered members on the Western Slope a platform to discuss how recent state policies impact businesses in the region. Local chamber leaders and employers also strategized on how to engage with legislators in the state capitol on issues unique to their community.
“Our partnership with local chambers is critical. When we come together as one voice, it is incredibly powerful when we’re speaking with legislative leaders,” Furman said. “That’s why this partnership is so important.”
Furman covered some of the major legislative proposals this session that affect the business community statewide as well as failed bills that can be expected to return in future sessions. Furman also discussed one of the Colorado Chamber’s top priorities this session – fighting for unemployment relief for businesses statewide. She led negotiations with legislators at the capitol to strike a $600 million deal to replenish the state’s bankrupt Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Without relief, employers were facing substantial premium increases beginning this year.
Jessica Valand, director of workforce development at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, also joined the Roaring Fork briefing on Tuesday to give an update on workforce trends at the local, state, and national levels. Labor shortages continue to impact employers across Colorado, and Valand provided insight into what is driving the current employment challenges. For businesses looking to attract workers in this tight labor market, Valand recommends that businesses focus on communication, job quality, and workplace culture.
On Monday, the president of the Grand Junction Chamber, Diane Schwenke, reiterated the importance of the big picture in Colorado legislation when saying, “Legislators are looking out the window from downtown Denver and often don’t realize what the rest of the state is experiencing. I understand that the Denver Metro area and the Front Range has an air quality problem, but we don’t. And yet we are subject to the exact same rules that get promulgated. You cannot make a one-size-fits-all rule, particularly when it comes to environmental compliance.”
A unified voice of business is the most powerful tool we have, and the Chamber is continually taking steps to strengthen and amplify that voice. The Colorado Chamber is proud to be partnered with over 50 local chambers across Colorado to ensure that every member’s voice is heard.
Draft of FAMLI Benefit and Employer Participation Requirements
The Colorado Chamber staff has received a draft of the proposed rule regarding the Family & Medical Leave Insurance Program benefits and employer participation. The staff at the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment plan to file this rule by June 30th but in the meantime they are seeking input from Colorado Chamber members. Please share any feedback/concerns with this draft to us June 30th so that we can share that feedback with the Department staff.
Once this proposed rule is filed, there will be a 30 day comment period as well as the formal rulemaking process so there will be additional time for feedback. However, this is an important advance opportunity to provide Chamber member input on the new state mandated Family & Medical Leave Insurance Program.
Additional Updates on Family Medical Leave Program (FAMLI)
The FAMLI Program staff held a call this week and shared several updates on the progress of the program including staffing & programmatic needs, communications/education outreach and proposed rules to implement the program. Details shared during the call are provided below:
- The Department is posting vacancies to fulfill the FTE needs to operate the program;
- A contract has been awarded to Deloitte to operate the claims system in the program and a build out of the premiums system is still ongoing;
- Nine (9) outreach/education meetings will be held around the State to educate employers & workers on the program. An employer guide will also be created.
- Next webinar to be hosted by the Department will be held on June 30th .
- A draft of the benefit rules has been released and is provided in the above section.
- The proposed rule for employer exemptions will be released soon and will include an option for an employer to submit a “declaration of intent” by January 1, 2023, that an employer intends to use a private insurance plan to comply with the FAMLI program benefit requirements. The insurer’s plan will need to be approved by the Division of Insurance. This approach is being modeled on the Massachusetts family and medical leave program.
Please contact Larry Hudson at [email protected] if you should have any questions regarding this update.