From the 2011-2012 Session
Unemployment compensation reforms
NFIB pushed for successful passage of House Bill 1188, which began the process of modernizing the state's unemployment compensation system. The legislation replaced the outdated formula for determining employer rates, which helps keep pace with the current employment trends and helps eliminate the unexpected tax increases employers were hit with 2010 and 2012.
Won a Colorado-designed, health-care exchange
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) gave states the choice of either establishing their own health-care exchanges or having one imposed on them by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. NFIB has supported the concept of exchanges, which were not a new idea brought forward in the PPACA. By a margin of 56 percent to 28 percent, with 16 percent undecided, NFIB members voted for a Colorado-built one on their 2011 ballots. While simultaneously taking a national lead in having all of the Act (also known as ObamaCare) declared unconstitutional by the courts, NFIB/Colorado also took the lead in advocating for an exchange run by a nine-member board of directors with a legislative over-sight committee by supporting Senate Bill 200. Whether or not the federal law is ruled valid, a mechanism is now in place that will offer small-business owners and individuals a place to shop and compare the policies on offer from a variety of health insurers—One that will allow employees to enhance their policies with their own money if so desired, and one that does not eliminate or supplant the current marketplace for health care. The cost and availability of health insurance has been the No. 1 issue for small-business owners across the country for more than 20 consecutive years. Health-care exchanges open up one more avenue for them to try. A top priority for NFIB/Colorado for 2012 will be to make sure the implementation of SB 200 is carried out in a way that preserves free-market principals, enhanced competition, and choices for employers and their employees.
Killed legislation making frivolous lawsuits easier to file
Innocently titled the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2011, Senate Bill 72 would have expanded employment lawsuits against small employers (fewer than 15 employees) and exposed them to punitive damages, claims for emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and attorneys’ fees and costs when an employee alleged a discriminatory or unfair employment practice. In testimony before the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado House of Representatives, NFIB State Director Tony Gagliardi reminded lawmakers Congress specifically exempted employers of less than 15 employees from the federal penalties, because it rightly knew it would unfairly expose them to frivolous lawsuits from disgruntled employees. The committee voted to kill the bill, which was also opposed by the Colorado Civil Justice League.
Stopped a bill that would have prohibited the use of credit reports in hiring decisions
NFIB provided key testimony in the defeat of both House Bill 1127 in 2011 and Senate Bill 003 in 2012. Had these measure passed, they would have prohibited the use of consumer credit reports for employment purposes, insurance underwriting and housing rentals. NFIB testified that the bills would have immediately brought to halt all hiring in the state at a time when it has never needed job-creation more. Legislators were swayed by NFIB's argument that it's the prerogative of the employer to use what ever methods appropriate in the determination for potential employees. The legislative panel voted six-to-three to kill the proposal.
Defeated prevailing-wage proposal that would have excluded small business from work on state projects
An annual favorite attempt of big labor's, House Bill 1070 would have required companies to pay prevailing wages and benefits (what the unions say they should be) for work on any type of state project. NFIB lobbied heavily against the bill, telling legislators about the daily financial uncertainties faced by small business owners during the worst economy in living memory. “This is no time to require businesses to pay higher than normal workforce expenses,” said State Director Tony Gagliardi. “We are supposed to be creating jobs, not killing them.” Furthermore, Gagliardi reminded lawmakers, local governments can already require prevailing wage and benefits. In addition to freezing small businesses out of any chance to compete for state work, it is estimated HB 1070 would have driven up the costs of completing a project by 10 percent—stiffing the taxpayers for tab. In the end, the House State Affairs Committee voted on Jan. 27 to kill HB 1070 on a 4-to-2 vote.
2010 NFIB Victories
Stopped encouragement of questionable workers' compensation claims
Defeated attempts to limit the use of employee surveillance by imposing severe restrictions on employers and insurance companies. House Bill 1012 would have encouraged more questionable workers compensation claims. Employees would have been provided with copies of all reports and received an expedited hearing if requested, thereby jeopardizing the effective use of surveillance.
Won more pricing options for healthcare
Passed legislation allowing for employee discounts on their health insurance when the employee completes a defined-wellness program. Roughly 80 percent of health care costs are applicable to 20 of the patients. This legislation allows for more pricing options for employers and moves more accountability for healthcare costs to the individual through personal responsibility.
Defeated attempt to increase amount of frivolous lawsuits
Defeated House Bill 1269 which would have incentivized groundless lawsuits against small businesses. Employers facing groundless lawsuits are forced to hire fewer workers, lay off others, or even close the doors altogether. HB 1269 would have made it more lucrative for plaintiff attorneys to encourage employees of small businesses to file lawsuits against Colorado employers.
Prevented increases to unemployment insurance costs
Fought for sensible solutions to the unemployment rate in Colorado. Promoted policies that encouraged business owners to create jobs. Opposed all attempts to expand unemployment benefits, which lead to increased unemployment insurance costs for employers. Currently Colorado’s Unemployment Trust Fund is insolvent and the state has had to take a federal loan. This loan must be paid back in 2011. NFIB/Colorado will fight for policies that do not place unfair obligation on employers to help repay this loan.
Passed Cost/Benefit Analysis Rule extension, saving small-business owners up to 60% in compliance costs
NFIB led efforts to pass the Cost/Benefit Analysis rule extension, saving small-business owners up to 60 percent in compliance costs per employee by preventing unnecessary and duplicative regulations.
Defeated legislation that would have raised workers' compensation costs
NFIB worked to defeat legislation that would have led to an increase in workers' compensation insurance premiums and allowed injured employees to change medical providers after 60 days should the worker not be at maximum medical improvement. This defeat saved business owners a possible 20 percent increase in their workers' compensation insurance premiums.
Defeated health insurance mandates, keeping premiums low
Defeated additional health-insurance mandates concerning expansion of coverage to the dependent of the dependent under an employer-sponsored health plan.
Protected privacy rights by defeating operational mandates
Defeated a mandate requiring any employee applying for Medicaid or other uncompensated health-care coverage to report the name of their employer.
VICTORY: 2002 -- On behalf of its Colorado members, NFIB worked to block more than 300 health care mandates included in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. These mandates would have demanded coverage of such conditions as caffeine addiction, insomnia and jet lag.
VICTORY: 2002 -- Over the last 10 years, NFIB has passed and defended legislation that has led to a reduction in workers' compensation insurance costs in Colorado by an average of 10.2 percent.
VICTORY: NFIB helped design and pass legislation that will refund Business Personal Property (BPP) taxes paid up to the first $500 and 13 percent of the tax paid above $500. This legislation will refund mare than $100 million back into the state's business community each year. New legislation, supported by NFIB and passed in 2000, make the refunds automatic.
VICTORY: NFIB also helped kill legislation that would have, among other things, added huge punitive damages to settlements in wrongful death lawsuits arising from job-related accidents. If the bill had passed, it would have increased liability insurance premiums including commercial auto, product liability and general business liability by an estimated $200 million.