the problem is the same. water, transport and labor. But the dynamics of getting things done in the Colorado legislature can be very different from past legislatures.
Members of the Northern Colorado Legislative Union on Wednesday discussed the top issues for businesses in the region and the challenges they face in dealing with a legislative body overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats.
The discussion took place at the Regional Issues Summit held at Loveland’s Budweiser Event Center. The event was organized by He NCLA, a lobbying group of the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce, the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, and the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, and the Northern Colorado Department of Economic Development.
“Businesses like a certain balance in the Capitol,” said Ed Seeover, a legislative reporter for the Denver Business Journal. Then he added a big “but”.
“There’s no balance. This is going to be a year of overwhelming margins. Margins are the biggest of this century for either party,” he said.
Democrats, who were expected to lose seats in the state Senate in the November election, did win seats. members, and committee members are outnumbered 9-4 in the House and either 5-2 or 6-3 in the Senate. Said.
“This is a problem, especially for Republicans, who have a much smaller voice. But it’s also a problem for the majority party,” he said.
Shad Mulib, a longtime Democratic strategist and owner of Ulysses Strategies, said while diversity in the Democratic caucuses will be difficult to control, a factor to consider is the January 6th Capitol Riot. said that the balance may have been redefined in between. And the November 2022 election.
“The definition of balance[may have changed]given what the candidates fought against. Jan. 6 changed the way people think about government in their lives,” he said.
He also said public opinion towards unions and workers was changing.
“People don’t like government in their lives. The business community’s best ally is to work with the art of the possible and find ways to get to ‘yes’. ”
“Keep in mind the governor is a proud capitalist. He is looking at the accounting notes on the bills. You’ll see Democrats holding
Sandra Sorin, a lobbyist for the Northern Colorado Legislative Union, said she expected the next session to be one of the most difficult she has faced. “It is our duty to tell our story,” she said. organizations would consider moderate.”
Mlib said that most members of the legislature “tie their identities to constituencies rather than parties; get a job; find someone who can tell your story.”
He advised companies to pay attention to lawmakers working across the aisle from members of the opposite party. They may be more open to hearing other perspectives.
Sorin said coalitions formed in northern Colorado on issues such as transportation have power in trying to influence legislators.
Sorin said her biggest concern relates to state control of issues that have traditionally been managed at the local level. She said the statewide affordable housing issue and statewide water concerns could drive legislation governing land-use decisions that have historically been controlled by local governments.
Mike Bell, an attorney at Ogletree Deakins, which represents employers in Colorado, said Colorado has become one of the most employee-friendly states in the nation.
Paid sick leave, “COVID supplements” and the new family medical leave known as FAMLI could mean “4.5 to 5 months of paid leave available to the typical employee,” he said. Bell said.
He said the law governing non-compete clauses in contracts “essentially destroyed” the protections of employers seeking to protect trade secrets.
Salary transparency also requires employers to advertise salary ranges regardless of location, making hiring difficult, especially for companies with significant out-of-state operations.
Phil Hayes, a lobbyist for the Pipefitters Union and representative of employers across the state, said the most concern was availability to those willing and able to work in the construction industry. He encouraged companies to partner with those that have an element of training in their hiring practices. He said apprenticeship programs are the most effective way to increase the number of workers in the industry.
He also worries about the loss of “six-figure salaries” at coal-fired power plants, replacing those jobs with $45,000 jobs building solar and wind farms.
He said he expects Congress to continue down the road of demanding more efficient buildings. “Expect to have at least 80 percent electric heating and water by any given day,” he said.
Bell said one of the “most dangerous” bills likely to be introduced in the next session has to do with redefining the standards of harassment used across the country.
“We have standards that are essentially used coast to coast,” he said, noting that the standards require a determination that workplace behavior is “serious or pervasive.” Did. Since this standard applies nationwide, most cases are filed in federal courts where resources exist to handle such situations.
If standards were changed in Colorado to “anything that would be offensive to a reasonable person,” it would put a heavy burden on HR personnel and those investigating claims. The lawsuit will move from federal court to state court, Bell said.
Anne Hutchison, president and CEO of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, speaks at a panel on transportation when the Colorado Department of Transportation announced funding for improvements to Interstate 25. Introduced discussion.
However, panelists said the extension from Colorado Route 66 in Longmont to Colorado Route 56 in Berthoud is a 10-year plan, but delays could create funding shortfalls.
CDOT Deputy Director Herman Stockinger said Segments 7 and 8 at Fort Collins and Loveland are expected to be completed in late 2023 or early 2024. Transport between Berthoud and Longmont is planned, but the environment may be redesigned or delayed by the Transport Commission.
The fifth segment will be partially funded by state and federal funds and partially by toll revenues, Stockinger said. He said the Transportation Commission is today considering what the next step for that segment will be.
State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer said a delay was expected. “Until we finish State Highway 1 in Wellington to US 36, we’re not done yet,” she said. She said Segment 5 has been designed and tendered, but the commission may need more design work, which will delay the project, she said.
Segment 5 was in the works before Senate Bill 260, which imposes more restrictions on highway construction, was passed, but changes in the composition of the Transportation Commission could mean delays, she said. Told.
Members of the panel discussing water issues said Northern Colorados can expect to see changes as the population continues to grow and water resources become increasingly scarce.
Jerry Gibbens, director of operations for the Northern Water Conservancy District, said the district recently committed to a 30 percent reduction in non-functional lawns as development continues in the area. The commitment is part of the Colorado River Compact, which divides water resources equally between the upper reaches of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming and the lower reaches of California, Arizona and Nevada. It was the result of ongoing discussions about the future. The lower reaches use more than the river’s share, and it can be difficult to regain resources once allocated.
“We have to think about development a little differently. There is less open space in 100% grass developments. We are looking at landscaping that uses less water. Will there be a price drop? Yes,” said Gibbens.
Eric Dial, deputy director of utilities, finance and customer service for the city of Greeley, said that because of how water usage has changed, Greeley has changed the way it charges developers for water.
Greeley determines that he is overcharging the water tap. For example, restaurants and office buildings may have one-inch faucets, but they have different uses and are now being charged differently, he said.
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