Why Isn’t the Colorado General Assembly Getting It?

Date: March 09, 2021

Senate Bill 21-176 shows willful tone-deafness that is also ignorant and mean-spirited

DENVER, March 9, 2021—Utah was the first in the nation, Wyoming followed shortly after, Montana just passed its last month, and Arizona and Nebraska are racing to catch up—but not Colorado. No. Rather than join with every sane state around it by passing liability protection for small-business owners against unfair COVID lawsuits, it’s not only taking a pass but willfully putting its Main Street enterprise in further harm’s way with Senate Bill 21-176.

“We didn’t expect any pro-small-business policies to come out of this Legislature, given the make-up of its membership, but we also didn’t expect it to go out of its way to engage in pillaging Colorado’s Main Street, mom-and-pop enterprises, as it is seeking to do with Senate Bill 21-176,” said Tony Gagliardi, Colorado state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation and state’s largest small-business association.

SB 21-176 borrows a bad concept from California, which called its law the Private Attorneys General Act, and which Colorado seeks to sell under the more sweetly named Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights Act. Whatever the title, the real aim is to make it easier to haul small-business owners into court for alleged violations of employment law.

“We’ve seen legislation like this in other states by so-called ‘progressive’ lawmakers who can’t think or act without a script handed down to them by national cause and labor groups,” said Gagliardi. “So, let me suggest an amendment to this 21-page bill. How about abolishing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which this bill tacitly admits can’t do its job without a cavalry of allegedly aggrieved employees and fast-buck-seeking lawyers riding to its rescue.”

Gagliardi warned everyone to be aware of the significant, jaw-dropping expansion of the definition of employees the bill contains, including independent contractors and even volunteers. “I look around and see struggling or closed small businesses all around me. The sponsors and co-sponsors of SB21-176 see nothing but dens of iniquity run by evildoers. I can’t imagine how you would be able to bridge these two perspectives. I’m just hoping the few adults that remain in the Legislature will quietly kill this measure.”

Click here for some examples of how California’s PAGA law has harmed small businesses.

Contact: Tony Gagliardi, Colorado State Director, [email protected],
or Tony Malandra, Senior Media Manager, [email protected]

Keep up with the latest Colorado small-business news at www.nfib.com/colorado or by following NFIB on Twitter @NFIB_CO or on Facebook @NFIB.CO


For more than 77 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven association. Since its founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.

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