2018 Challenges in the Colorado General Assembly

Date: May 24, 2017

Re-igniting regulatory reform legislation that passed one chamber in 2017 is Job 1

The second session of the 71st Colorado General Assembly commences January 10, 2018, with the following three top priorities for small business.

Fighting for Meaningful Regulatory Reform
Of the 75 issues NFIB measures every four years and publishes in its Small Business Problems & Priorities report, “Unreasonable Government Regulations” came in second in 2016, a three-point jump from its fifth place in 2012. In a special poll just on regulations that NFIB conducted in 2017, it found that one-third of small employers have had a government official enter their place of business to inspect or examine their records and/or licenses or otherwise check on their compliance with some government requirement.

Although the federal government was the biggest regulatory headache for most small-business owners, 30 percent listed state government as their biggest problem and 15 percent cited the local level.

NFIB/Colorado has led the charge for a more sensible regulatory environment in the state since 2010. In 2017, there were two attempts to pass regulatory reform legislation, both would have required state agencies to allow a small business 30 days to cure a first-time offense of a minor violation. Such curable violations would have only applied to rules established within the last 12 months that do not endanger the life or safety of the public.

Senate Bill 1 was a great first toward achieving meaningful regulatory reform and passed the Senate with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, it died in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee whose chairwoman introduced her own version, which fell far short of providing anything substantive and which NFIB/Colorado worked successfully to defeat when it reached the Senate.

The cost of the current regulatory environment to American businesses is $2.25 trillion. To help alleviate this, NFIB/Colorado will continue to work for passage of regulatory relief that allows small businesses a right-to-cure period before any fine is issued.

Passing Tort Reform to Lower Health-Care Costs
NFIB/Colorado will continue its effort to stop what is known as ‘phantom damages.’ Senate Bill 181 would have changed how medical awards are allowed under Colorado court rules. Colorado allows a claimant to sue a defendant for the total of all medical bills. However, no consideration is given to the fact the medical bills were discounted. For example, if a plaintiff’s medical bills total $50,000, most likely his or her insurance carrier may settle the bill for $25,000 due to the many contractual agreements between insurance carriers and the provider. However, often a plaintiff is still allowed to sue for the entire $50,000 This is known as a Phantom Damage Award. The cost of health care has been small businesses’ No. 1 worry for 30 consecutive years. NFIB will continue its fight to expand health-coverage by reducing costs

Stopping Local Governments From Establishing Their own Minimum-Wage Rates
The minimum wage is earned by just 2.7 percent of the nation’s workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and most of them “tend to be young. Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up about half of those paid the federal minimum wage or less. Among employed teenagers (ages 16 to 19) paid by the hour, about 10 percent earned the minimum wage or less, compared with about 2 percent of workers age 25 and older.”

In short, the minimum wage is an entry level wage earned mostly by teenagers and young adults still living at home. Increases in the minimum wage have only one major effect—eliminating entry-level jobs. In spite of these facts, proponents of ever-increasing rates wrongly argue that they’re needed to lift people out of poverty, even though little to no evidence back it up.

Colorado is seeking to exacerbate this job-killing problem by allowing local governments continue the ability to set their own minimum wages levels. This would create a crazy quilt of minimum-wage rates throughout Colorado and a commensurate paperwork migraine for every business. Also, If a business is in a higher than normal minimum-wage locality, the selling prices would increase in proportion, which could lead customers to shop in other jurisdictions. NFIB/Colorado has defeated these attempts in the past and will continue to defeat them in the future.


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