On Friday, May 17th, the Arvada Chamber of Commerce hosted a Community Impact Breakfast to discuss “Our Impression on the Session.” A panel including Scott Chase of Politicalworks, Senator Rachel Zenzinger, State Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp, Senator Brittany Pettersen, State Representative Monica Duran, and Senator Tammy Story provided an overview of the 2019 legislative session.
The panel was joined by moderator Jim Siedlecki and representatives from the Arvada business community: Ed Rothschild (Chair of the Government Affairs Sales Tax Committee) and Katie Winner (Chair of the Government Affairs Education and Workforce Committee).
“This was one of the most significant sessions in recent memory – especially for the business community,” said Scott Chase in his keynote overview. In the 2019 session, 598 bills were introduced, carrying major weight in matters related to business, employment and education.
5 Key Issues from the 2019 Session
- Sales Tax Reform (SB19-006). In April, the Governor signed a bill sponsored by Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp that requires the development of an electronic sales and use tax simplification system. This new system will help simplify the complex patchwork of sales and use tax across the state that can burden small businesses. Ed Rothschild, who submits seven sales taxes for seven business locations each month, calls the bill a win for all involved. “It’s better for the businesses and better for the community.”
- Free Full-Day Kindergarten (HB 19-1262). One of the biggest pieces of legislation to come out of this session was delivering on the campaign promise of Governor Jared Polis for state-funded Free Full-Day Kindergarten, championed by Senator Rachel Zenzinger. The funding goes into effect next school year and gives parents the opportunity to work full days. One of the bill’s champions, Senator Rachel Zenzinger, said education issues as a whole “really won this year.”
- Equal Pay For Equal Work (SB19-085). In 2019, sponsors worked closely with the business community to make multiple amendments on this bill, which has been pushed in the House for many years. The bill seeks to ensure gender pay equity by requiring employers to publicly post job openings with estimated salaries, prohibiting employers from asking about salary history and allowing an employee to sue over wage discrepancies. Scott Chase says the reason this bill passed is that sponsors made numerous compromises, working behind the scenes to help make the business community more comfortable.
- Family Medical Leave (SB19-188). This bill, which Scott Chase called a “massive, massive bill,” would require businesses of all sizes to provide partial wage replacement benefits for family and medical leave by employees. Per the original bill, after 90 days, all employees would be eligible for up to 12 weeks paid family leave, during which time the employer is required to maintain the job. The bill would also establish a new 200-employee government entity to manage. The business community came to Capitol with projection statistics and analysis and asked the House to step back and assess the legislation. As a result, the bill changed to a financial study to better determine how this legislation could work. “A family medical leave policy is on its way,” said Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp. “If you are a business and you do not have a family medical leave policy, you need to be looking at this pretty quickly. Don’t be surprised when the bill comes next January.”
- Local Minimum Wage (HB19-1210). This bill allows for any local government to increase minimum wage above the State minimum wage. The bill passed in May and will be implemented in 2021.
Join us for our next Community Impact Breakfast on June 21, “Improving Our Local Talent Pipeline.” Finding and retaining good talent continues to be at the top of almost every employer’s list of challenges. At this breakfast, you’ll hear from local, regional and state partners about what it will take to change the way we address everything from career awareness to employee retention. This monumental effort will require full community engagement – join the movement today! Click here to register.