Legislative Victory: Costly Unemployment Insurance Bill Dies in Final Days of Session

In a collaborative effort among business and industry groups, the Colorado Chamber helped secure a major legislative victory on behalf of the state’s employers this week.

House Bill 1078, which has been a key focus of the Chamber in the final week of session, died in committee yesterday evening on a 5-4 bipartisan vote. The bill would have further strained the state’s business-funded unemployment insurance system, which is already facing significant solvency issues, by creating a new weekly benefit for dependents under the program.

Ever since the state’s unemployment fund (UITF) became insolvent in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, the Colorado Chamber has prioritized relief for employers by ensuring the fund is brought back to solvency. Last session, the Chamber led a powerful coalition calling on lawmakers to replenish the fund, reaching a deal to infuse $600 million into the UITF and preventing substantial rate hikes for businesses. In exchange for the $600 million infusion, business groups agreed to a series of changes to the unemployment system to benefit workers.

“The only demand that didn’t get into the bill was the program you are debating today,” Colorado Chamber President and CEO Loren Furman said in her testimony to the Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee this week. “The reason? The cost impact to the fund was too big.”

HB 1078 would have added millions in new costs to the system, impeding on the progress made last year. One study projected that the new benefits under the bill would increase the deficit by up to $54 million annually.

“Employers are paying the highest premiums ever through no fault of their own,” Furman said. “It’s our job to keep the fund stable and used for what it is intended for.”

The Chamber worked closely with C3 and the National Federation for Independent Business (NFIB) in opposition to the bill to secure this important victory. Ultimately, Committee Chair Robert Rodriguez (D) and Sen. Joann Ginal (D) echoed the concerns of the business community, joining Republicans on the committee to strike down the bill.

Ensuring the solvency of the state’s unemployment fund was a top legislative priority in the Colorado Chamber’s legislative agenda this year. The defeat of HB 1078 represents a clear victory for businesses of all sizes across the state to prevent unemployment premium hikes and additional costs on employers.