NFIB achieved three victories for Colorado small businesses
The 2018 session was much busier than in years past. Beginning on January 10, the Colorado General Assembly faced 719 pieces of legislation before adjourning at midnight, May 1.
A unique set of factors such as split houses, an election year, and many key, legislative leaders being forced out by term limits played significant roles in the political dynamics. Adding to the uniqueness was a booming economy and a significant budget surplus.
Through it all, NFIB was able to help pass some legislation beneficial for small business while simultaneous work to stop bills bad for small business from passing.
Small Business Victories
Won Sales Tax Simplification
House Bill 18-1022 requires the Department of Revenue to issue requests for information (RFI) for electronic sales and use tax simplification systems that state and local governments could choose to use for administrative simplification. Having more than 740 taxing authorities in Colorado puts the state in the top five most complicated for collection and remittance processes in the United States. The RFI requests information regarding a single point of collection for sales and use tax and adoption of uniform definitions of what is taxed. HB 1022 passed both Houses with only one No vote.
Secured Continuation of the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) Requirement
House Bill 18-1237 requires a CBA be completed by the Department of Regulatory Agencies at the request of any person when a proposed regulation might have a financial impact upon business. Also requires an annual report of the number of CBAs requested and performed. A CBA assures any regulation implantation is both efficient and cost effective.
Stopped Premium Increases on Health Insurance
A Senate committee killed House Bill 1392, which would have used a reinsurance pool to stabilize a health insurance market that some believe is a detriment to those in rural Colorado. It is not an unknown fact that health insurance rates are higher in rural parts of the state. This is due to the use of geographical rating used in the determination of premiums. While the need to stabilize and make the health insurance market more affordable is obvious, the solution is not to raise everyone else’s rates to subsidize select areas of the State. HB 1392 would have placed an assessment on every fully- and self-insured plan issued in Colorado. NFIB has committed to those on both sides of this issue to work together in developing a possible solution.
NFIB efforts to win some regulatory relief for small businesses again ran into opposition from the House leadership, labor, the Sierra Club, and Trout Unlimited. House Bill 1113 would have required state agencies to allow 30 days for a small business to cure a first-time offense of a minor violation. Right now, agencies have the discretion to allow 30 days but seldom use it. HB 1113 would have put it in statute that they had to for new rules established within the last 12 months for violations that do not endanger the life or safety of the public.
Independent Contractor Status
There has been much talk and speculation about how the emerging “gig economy” is transforming the way people work and support themselves and their families. Senate Bill 179 was another attempt to clarify the means in which one is classified an independent contractor when working through a Market Based Platform (i.e. Uber, Lyft, etc.). Led by the Colorado AFL-CIO, SEIU and 9to5, pressure was applied on members of the House of Representatives to stop the legislation. Their efforts resulted in another year of uncertainty in the determination of employment status for those who chose to work for themselves.
Business Personal Property Tax
While some strides have been made over the years to lessen the burden on small business owners concerning the payment of Business Personal Property Tax on depreciable equipment, more needs to be done. Various bills attempting to provide an actual exemption from reporting and payment to elimination of the tax in general were discussed. The attempts failed due to the split houses in the Legislature. Bills were cheered and passed in the Republican-controlled Senate only to be vilified and killed in the Democratic-controlled House.
The 2018 session is being hailed by many as the most productive in recent memory, due in large part to reform of the state-run pension program (PERA) for state employees, reauthorization of the Colorado Civil Rights Division, with the addition to the Civil Rights Commission of another business member, and a transportation funding deal that voters will have an opportunity to have their say on in 2019 at the ballot box.
While there was some progress made on key issues affecting the business community, much more needs to be done. Advancement of pro-business policies is going to require an end to the partisan politics to which citizens have become accustomed.
Voters will be met with several ballot initiatives concerning issues such as highway and transit project funding, elimination of all tax exemptions and credits, and a new income tax on high wage earners.
NFIB will do its best to assure our members receive pertinent information assisting them to make informed decisions through the NIFB Member Ballot procedure.