The Colorado General Assembly concluded its two-year session on May 11, 2016, and when it adjourned, NFIB was able to walk away with some important victories for small business.
From the 2016 half
Won Due Process for Small Businesses Facing State Audits
NFIB lobbied extensively for the successful passage of Senate Bill 16-036, which allows small-business owners to have access to due process when appealing a sales tax audit opinion by the Department of Revenue. Currently, should one desire to appeal an audit decision to the district court level, there is a requirement in which the total amount of the DOR’s audit decision including penalties and interest be deposited in escrow with the director of the Department of Revenue, or a bond be posted for twice the amount owed to DOR. SB 036 would remove all the requirements of deposit for appeal at the district court level. The effect of SB 036 will be that businesses will no longer be forced into settlements pertaining to a sales tax audit because the business owner cannot afford to post the amount owed upfront or the expense to post a bond for twice the amount owed. Senate Bill 036 passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously.
Secured Closer Scrutiny of Big Business Tax Breaks
NFIB supported the passage of Senate Bill 203, directing the Office of the State Auditor to conduct evaluations of all state tax expenditures that are tax-related provisions where tax revenue is reduced. Examples are deductions, exemptions, credits for job creation, or special tax rates for certain types of industries. It is imperative the more than $4 billion dollars of state revenues being used for these tax exemptions and credits be measured for their effectiveness. If businesses receiving preferential treatment are indeed creating the jobs that warrant it, then let’s continue them. But we don’t know that until we find out. The majority of small-business owners who create almost all the new jobs in Colorado receive no tax breaks. Big businesses and large corporations are the almost exclusive beneficiaries of them.
Killed Hospital Provider Fee Shift
In 2016, NFIB/Colorado conducted a member survey asking if the Hospital Provider Fee should be moved out from under the requirements of TABOR for the purpose of using collected funds for other purposes, such as transportation and education. More than 64 percent of those responding opposed making any changes to the program. Hospital provider fees are used to increase reimbursement to hospitals for providing care under the state medical assistance program. NFIB targeted the Senate Finance Committee for the thrust of its lobbying efforts and succeeded in persuading lawmakers to kill the fee-shift idea. The hospital provider fee program will remain subject to the rules and requirements of TABOR.
Defeated Ban the Box
Stopping the passage of House Bill 1388 was another key victory for NFIB/Colorado. HB 1388 would have prohibited any employer from making an inquiry about a job candidate’s arrests or criminal convictions until the candidate has been offered an interview or a conditional offer of employment—popularly called ‘Ban The Box.’ In a 2014 survey, NFIB members rejected this idea by 90 percent. HB 1388 would also have required employers to maintain the application for a period of nine months after its submission to the employer. This requirement would have been contrary to many federal laws that apply to retention of applications and resumes under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
Eliminated State Work Status Form
NFIB worked with Rep. Brian DelGrosso, an NFIB-member, small-business owner, to successfully pass House Bill 1114, which removes the requirement for employers in the state to file an Affirmation of Legal Work Status form with the Colorado Division of Labor and Employment after completing and filing an I-9 form with the federal government. All the affirmation form does is prove to the state that you filed the required form with the feds. The state form was an absolute waste of time for all parties involved, being as it was an exact duplicate of questions asked on the Federal I-9 form.
From the 2015 half
Defeated Four Minimum-Wage Bills
NFIB/Colorado succeeded in reminding legislators that the minimum wage is an entry-level wage, earned primarily by teens and young adults starting out on their work lives, and that increasing it only eliminates opportunities to enter the workforce. Of the four, House Concurrent Resolution 1001 was the most threatening of passage. It would have raised the state’s minimum-wage rate to $9.50 in 2017, to $10.50 in 2018, to $11.50 in 2019, to $12.50 in 2020, and in 2021 would have adjusted all future rates to rises in the Consumer Price Index. Thanks to NFIB’s extensive lobbying, the issue is dead for the year.
Stopped Paid Sick Leave Mandate
House Bill 1258 would have created a family and medical leave insurance program to have been run by the state and financed by a percentage of an employee’s salary to be determined by the state at a future date. This unworkable program would have required employers to collect premiums from all employees and forward them to the state treasurer. This legislation would have been an unfunded mandate on small business owners. This legislation is different in it only applies to leave under Colorado’s FMLA. This is not to be confused with Paid Sick Leave. HB 1258 did not make it out of its house origin.
Killed Union-Stuffed Pay Equity Commission
Five years ago, the Legislature created a Pay Equity Commission to come up with a voluntary best-practices criteria for businesses to align the salaries of their employees. As NFIB warned at the time, no bureaucracy can resist the temptation to stray from its original purpose and to stuff itself with like-minded commissioners, and the Pay Equity Commission proved no different, becoming a hive of big labor and big government supporters who started threatening businesses with adopt-our-recommendations-or-else policies. The law creating the Pay Equity Commission is set to expire this year. NFIB lobbied hard to let it die a justifiable death. A bill to allow it to continue without a future sunset clause was defeated.
Require Audit of the Colorado Health Exchange
NFIB supported and assisted with the passage of SB 019 which required the State Auditor’s office to conduct a full audit of the Colorado Health Exchange. Due to lower enrollments and high operational cost the Exchange has exhausted almost all Federal grant money. Health Exchange personnel have been reluctant to submit to a full financial audit and appeared to mislead legislators they had successfully passed several audits by the Federal Government. It was found these Federal audits were mostly self-reporting audits. NFIB felt in order to maintain the integrity and confidence in the Exchange a full audit must be completed. The bill passed with bipartisan support in both Houses and was signed by the Governor.
Financial Disclosures on Ballot measures
NFIB ,as part of a statewide coalition, passed HB 1057 which will require citizens signing a petition to place a ballot proposal on the Ballot for voter approval be given a financial disclosure prepared by legislative council indicating the fiscal impact to the State of Colorado should the measure pass. Often the financial impact to Colorado is not known until the measure has been passed and implemented. Often the business community will share an unfair level of the financial burden. This will assist the citizen signing the petition in determining the cost-benefit of the proposed measure.