Colorado Capitol Report

What We’re Watching: HB 1294

What We’re Watching: HB 1294

The legislative session is in high gear this week, with major bills moving through each chamber and late-night debates happening on the floor and in committees.

One bill, HB 1294, has taken center stage for the Colorado business community this week as it has its first hearing this afternoon in the House Energy and Environment Committee. This broad new proposal was just introduced late last week and would have far-reaching consequences for the state’s economy. Board Chair John Jacus will be testifying on behalf of the Colorado Chamber against the bill.

While much of the attention surrounding HB 1294 has been on its detrimental impact on new oil and gas development, the Colorado Chamber has additional concerns from the perspective of the broader business community.

“Make no mistake – this bill goes far beyond just the energy industry,” Colorado Chamber President and CEO Loren Furman said in a press release on Wednesday. “HB 1294 would create complex and costly new regulations on a broad range of businesses, from breweries and bakeries to hotels and warehouses. The Colorado business community has worked closely state officials in recent years to reduce emissions at a large scale, and we believe that we can improve our environment without sacrificing economic growth. This bill not only moves the goal posts on emissions regulations at the expense of our business climate, but there’s little evidence it would actually make a significant impact on air quality.”

The Colorado business community is highly invested in a clean environment and healthy economy for our communities and the future of our state. We believe that working together, we can protect our environment without sacrificing economic growth. In recent years, businesses have worked closely with state regulatory agencies to cut ozone emissions at a large scale after extensive hearings, rulemakings, and stakeholder engagement. The Colorado Chamber is even taking that a step further by undertaking a new Environmental Sustainability & Climate Action Task Force to initiate continued collaboration.

Unfortunately, HB 1294 would impede the progress we’ve made by continuing to move the goal posts. The Colorado business community needs regulatory certainty and predictability in order to operate effectively. But HB 1294 upends years of recent rulemakings and legislation targeting emissions reductions – from Clean Power Plan regulations to utility resource plans to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap and more. This creates instability and confusion among regulated industries and puts future progress in jeopardy.

What’s in the Bill:

HB 1294 requires pollution modeling simulations for several categories of permits, including any indirect air pollution sources that are determined to be large indirect air pollution sources of ozone precursor pollutants. The bill also requires state regulatory agencies to consider the cumulative impact of all sources of emissions at new oil and gas drilling sites.

Colorado businesses are actively still trying to comply with new and existing air quality standards, and HB 1294 makes it more difficult for industries to keep up by creating significant new regulatory processes. The combination of the bill’s new modeling requirements, the arduous citizen complaint process, the Startup, Shutdown, Malfunction provisions, and the increased permitting workload would overwhelm hundreds of companies across the state.

Reviving the Controversial Employee Trip Reduction Plan?

The proposal attempts to revive a wildly unpopular regulatory initiative that failed two years ago after major backlash from both workers and employers. The 2021 Employee Trip Reduction Plan (ETRP) aimed at reducing emissions by dictating how Coloradans commute to work. It created mandates surrounding the use of personal vehicles and required businesses to limit employee choices in how they get to their workplace or job site. The Colorado Chamber led a powerful business coalition against the proposed plan and it ultimately was defeated.

HB 1294 sets the stage for another regulatory battle over Coloradans’ personal driving choices by directing the state’s air quality control division to pass a new “vehicle miles traveled reduction rule.” This provision of the bill ignores the fact that the General Assembly already addressed this issue in statute last year by creating an alternative transportation tax credit for businesses. This incentive-based approach gives businesses and employees the flexibility to reduce vehicle usage in a way that makes sense for their unique circumstances.

Take Action:

The Colorado Chamber of Commerce is leading a broad coalition of business groups opposed to the bill. This coalition is receiving regular updates on the legislation and progress being made behind the scenes. To add your organization to the Chamber’s coalition list, please contact Laura Moss at [email protected].

You can also reach out to lawmakers on House Energy and Environment Committee to ask them to OPPOSE HB 1294. Please click here to contact members of the committee using the Colorado Chamber’s grassroots tools.

Leadership Colorado Participants Visit Metro Area’s Largest Hospital System at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children

On April 14th, the Leadership Colorado class gathered at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children to learn about healthcare as a business and mission-focused entity. Participants began the day hearing from a fantastic panel of senior leaders, moderated by Maureen MacDonald (AVP, Community Relations). Chris Dunbar (COO) spoke about HealthONE’s rating as a top hospital in the nation for patient experience, their depth of clinical trial opportunities, and their focus on expert staff training. Colorado Chamber board member Melissa Osse (VP, Government Relations) spoke about the high-priority healthcare bills they are watching in this legislative session. Andy Leveque ( VP, HR) spoke about measuring data, staffing and retention, and building a pipeline for recruitment. Maureen Tarrant, CEO, spoke candidly about her career journey and the way you should look at building your leadership team, talking about the ‘superpowers’ you can bring to strengthen your team.

Our class was transported virtually into the operating room to watch Dr. Daniel Lerman (Ortho-Oncologist Surgeon) perform live surgery on a patient suffering from sarcoma in the knee. Even afterLeadershipCO2023_HealthOne_23 Live surgery viewing  just eating breakfast, the participant’s stomachs stayed strong so they could ask questions back and forth between the OR and viewing room and learned that not only does Colorado have one of the largest tissue banks in the country, but Dr. Lerman is one of the only surgeons in the U.S. to perform hip and pelvis stabilization surgery.

Participants toured the hyperbaric oxygen chamber and the mobile training unit, one of the only vehicles of its kind in the country that teaches first responders in rural areas how to treat pediatric emergencies. The tour concluded by meeting the best girl, Posey the dog, a Child Life Specialist that helps pediatric patients with rehabilitation practices.

Leadership Colorado will be going to the Olympic Training Center in May to learn about sports, tourism, and reaching your goals!

In the News: Colorado Chamber Press Roundup

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