About 600 bills are typically introduced when the Colorado General Assembly is in session, and this year is no different. While many pundits say little action will be taken in what’s shaping up to be a contentious election year, quite a few business bills are making their way through the legislative process.
Some bills would require equal pay, allow parental leave for school functions and provide more options for insurance brokers using Connect for Health Colorado. Others would create an option for deadly force to fend off intruders, and others create ways to access public business data.
Here’s a breakdown of business legislation under consideration:
House Bill 1001 requires companies bidding on public contracts to certify they are in compliance with equal pay laws for men and women who perform similar work. As of press time, the bill has been assigned to committee but has not yet received any votes.
House Bill 1002 revives a parental-leave law that expired in 2015. The law allows workers to take up to six hours a month or 18 hours a year to attend school activities for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. It includes parent-teacher conferences and academic achievement ceremonies.
Senate Bill 012 gives tax assessors the authority to extend the time frame for property owners to rebuild after flood or fire. Under current law, destroyed homes are taxed at a lower rate than vacant property for five years, and then if not rebuilt, the vacant land is taxed at a higher rate than property with a home. The bill has passed a second reading in the Senate.
Senate Bill 029 updates the state insurance company holding systems law and requires insurers to maintain a risk management framework as modeled by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This bill passed the Senate and is under consideration in the House.
Senate Bill 032 creates an economic development working group for economically distressed regions in Colorado. Some places are still experiencing high unemployment, and the working group would provide information and resources to bring more economic activity and jobs to those regions. It’s been assigned to committee.
Senate Bill 096 revives the state Pay Equity Commission to study unequal pay in Colorado, with 11 members.
House Bill 1014 creates a business intelligence center to streamline access to public data collected by state agencies. It’s passed the Business, Labor and Commerce Committee and has been sent to the Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1023 is a renewed effort — failed during the 2015 legislative session — to allow owners, managers and employees the authority to use deadly force against an intruder. It’s been assigned to committee.
House Bill 1037 creates an income tax credit for employers who hire people with disabilities. It provides a credit for a percentage of the employee’s gross wages and provides a three-year credit for a portion of annual costs related to technology purchased to assist disabled workers. It’s been referred to the Finance Committee.
House Bill 1042 allows colleges and universities to manufacture and taste beer without obtaining a liquor license, as long as the institutions are researching the science of brewing and not selling their products.
House Bill 1078 prohibits disciplinary action against state, county, city or school employees if they uncover a violation of federal, state or local law.
House Bill 1197 requires each state agency to give credit toward licensing or credentials for military experience. The agencies must determine if an occupational exam is available to authorize veterans to practice an occupation, publish a summary of pathways available to vets, and consult with colleges to create bridge programs to cover educational gaps.
House Bill 1202 requires employers to participate in the federal electronic verification program to determine whether new employees are eligible for jobs. Employers must retain information received through the e-verify program. Employers are fined $5,000 for the first offense and up to $25,000 for the second offense if they fail to submit required documents, submit false documentation or don’t participate.
Senate Bill 2 asks the General Assembly to submit a ballot question to voters asking if they approve of a fee charged by Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s health insurance exchange. Some legislators consider it a tax, which voters are required to approve under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.
Senate Bill 6 requires the Colorado health insurance exchange to establish a system to connect customers to insurance brokers.
House Bill 1158 extends the Identity Theft and Financial Fraud Board and House Bill 1159 extends the Colorado Fraud Investigators Unit. The board and unit operate under the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to provide identity theft and financial fraud expertise to local police and sheriffs. The unit and board were established by the Identity Theft and Financial Fraud Deterrence Act in 2006 and would end Sept. 1 unless continued by the General Assembly.