Colorado Capitol Report

What We’re Watching: SB 105, Expanding the Equal Pay Act

What We’re Watching: SB 105, Expanding the Equal Pay Act

This week, the Colorado Chamber is watching SB 105, a bill that would make expansions to the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act of 2019. The bill was heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on Tuesday.

The 2019 wage transparency legislation required all employers to include compensation information in online job postings for Colorado applicants. The Colorado Chamber worked with the bill sponsors on the original law to ensure that it was feasible for employers to implement.

Since its passage, several problems have arisen from the new law. Most prominently, with the global pandemic shifting workplace norms and prompting a significant increase in remote work across the country, some unfortunate unintended consequences put the new Colorado law in the national spotlight for the wrong reasons. Major publications from The Wall Street Journal to The Atlantic highlighted how top companies were excluding Colorado applicants from highly sought-after remote jobs due to the complexities of the new regulations.

Other problems from the law were rooted in the implementation and rulemaking process at the state agency level that occurred after passage. In a recent study released by the Chamber in January, the complexities of the state’s equal pay law were identified by employers as one of the top regulatory burdens impacting Colorado’s competitiveness.

“When the statute got interpreted through rulemaking, it got a lot more complicated and stringent on employers, and a lot more requirements than I think any of us anticipated,” Colorado Chamber President and CEO Loren Furman told Time Magazine last year.

In response, the Colorado Chamber’s lobby team has tried to work with legislators on a fix – most recently in 2022, when the business community provided lawmakers with comprehensive feedback to improve the law and clear up ambiguities. Primarily, the goal has been to address the remote work dilemma and provide more clarity on posting requirements and promotions for employers. Supporting strategic improvements to the Equal Pay Act was also listed as a major priority in the Chamber’s 2023 legislative agenda.

Instead of addressing the bulk of the Chamber’s concerns, state legislators filed SB 105 last month after giving stakeholders in the business community a small window of time to review the draft. While the sponsors of the legislation claim it’s a “fix” to the original bill, it does little to address regulatory complexities and, in practice, would make it even more difficult to comply with by expanding on the law.

“Unfortunately, SB 105 makes very few improvements to the law and makes things more confusing,” the Chamber’s lead lobbyist Meghan Dollar said this week in her testimony against the bill.

The new bill does nothing to address the most glaring problem of out-of-state employers excluding Coloradans from remote positions to avoid complying with state regulations. In addition, it creates privacy issues for employees across the state by forcing new mandates on businesses to publicly identify who is hired or promoted within the company. SB 105 also creates additional liability for employers by extending the statute of limitations for back pay from three to six years.

The business community has been a partner to lawmakers in crafting the original Equal Pay Act and has attempted to find solutions to clarify problematic provisions while leaving the intent of the law intact. It’s unfortunate that very few of the Chamber’s concerns are reflected in SB 105.

The bill is currently scheduled to be heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee again next Tuesday, February 28.

Colorado Chamber Energy and Environment Council Meets

This week, the Colorado Chamber’s Energy & Environment Council had a very busy agenda and heard from the Chair of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission(COGCC), Jeff Robbins, as well as the Executive Director of the COGCC, Julie Murphy. Both speakers described a process and study the COGCC took on to identify new and different ways the Commission could operate. A big change would be the addition of jurisdiction over carbon. Chamber staff and members will continue conversations with the COGCC as they pursue legislation to codify the changes in their scope.

The council also received updates on several pieces of legislation.

  • HB23-1161 – Energy Standards for Appliances [No position was taken]
  • HB23-1210 – Carbon Management [No position was taken]
  • SB23-016 – Measures to Promote GHG Reduction in Colorado [AMEND]

The Council also discussed potential air quality legislation and rulemakings in which the Chamber is currently participating.

Please contact Meghan Dollar at  [email protected] or Landon Gates at [email protected] with any questions regarding the Council or the above legislation.

CLIMBER Loan Funds Available for Small Businesses: Live Informational with the Fund Program Director March 2

Sam Taylor, CLIMBER Program Director, Colorado Department of the Treasury

Join the Colorado Chamber and former local chamber CEO, Sam Taylor for a 45-minute call to learn how the Colorado Treasury is working with lending institutions to make low interest loans to the small businesses across our state.

The CLIMBER Loan Fund program was created by the Colorado Legislature in 2020 to help businesses that were adversely impacted by the pandemic to gain access to working capital loans at sub-market rates through the year 2024.

This informational call is for small business (up to 99 employees) to learn how they can access the state’s $250 million fund.

When: Thursday, March 2, 9 a.m.

Register Now

Join a FAMLI Virtual Town Hall

CDLE’s Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI)  announced its statewide Virtual Town Hall series. These community meetings are designed to help Colorado workers and employers alike understand the new FAMLI program. The FAMLI Virtual Town Halls will be a great opportunity to learn about the new voter-approved, statewide paid leave program and ask the Division questions. Everyone from employers with questions about premiums to families with questions about future benefits is invited to attend.

Please RSVP, to receive a reminder and dial-in instructions the day before each event. Or click here when your chosen Town Hall begins. The options are:

  • Feb. 28, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (English)
  • Feb. 28, 3:30- 4:30 p.m. (Spanish)
  • March 21, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (English)
  • March 21, 3:30- 4:30 p.m. (Spanish)

In the News: Colorado Chamber Press Roundup

Denver Gazette: Colorado Chamber brings on longtime Denver Business Journal writer Ed Sealover

The Colorado Chamber of Commerce hired longtime Denver Business Journal legislative reporter Ed Sealover to serve as vice president of strategic initiatives, according to a news release.

Read more…

GAZETTE OP-ED: ‘Fair workweek’ would crush Colorado’s job creators

As Coloradans, we’re exceptionally proud to live and work in such an inspiring state. It’s irrefutable that our quality of life, access to outdoor recreation and natural beauty, and sense of community sets us apart.

Read more…

Westword: Takeaways From Seven-Hour Hearing on Fair Workweek Bill

If House Bill 23-1118, the Fair Workweek Employment Standards proposal, passes, it could fundamentally change how retail and restaurant outfits do business in Colorado. The bill, which was introduced on January 24, proposes to provide shift workers more predictability — and penalizes their employers for not providing that.

Read more…

Talking Business News: Denver Biz Journal’s Sealover to start chamber publication

Denver Business Journal senior reporter Ed Sealoverhas been hired by the Colorado Chamber of Commerce to start an online publication. The Sum & Substance will cover Colorado’s legislative and political news related to the business community.

Read more…

Denver 7: State lawmakers debate three bills that are aimed to help Colorado families with costs

Between high costs and a shaky economy, a lot of families in Colorado are struggling to make ends meet. For a second year in a row, state lawmakers are focusing on cutting expenses in the form of tax and fee relief in an effort to help.

Read more…

Douglas County News: It’s time for part 2 of wage transparency laws

“How much does the job pay?” is no longer much of a mystery for job seekers in Colorado, thanks to a state law passed in 2019 and enacted two years later. Other states have followed suit in recent months, including California, Washington and soon, New York. But Colorado’s law wasn’t perfect.

Read more…

Arc Valley Voice: Buena Vista Chamber Invites Middle Schoolers to Enter the 2023 National Civics Bee

The Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce has announced the launch of an initiative aimed at encouraging more young Americans to engage in civics and contribute to their communities; inviting Buena Vista Middle Schoolers to participate in the 2023 National Civics Bee.

Read more…