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10 Bills That Should Get the Axe When the Colorado Legislature Resumes

With our state legislature on a two-week hiatus, no new bills are being proposed. Some would argue that that’s a good thing.  But rest assured the wheels are still turning within the Republican and Democrat caucuses during the interim.  It’s just happening from a “social distance”.

Both sides are gearing up for when the session resumes, whether it’s next week or next month.  It remains to be seen whether or not the hiatus days count toward the 120 day session or if the calendar restarts when the legislature is gaveled back in.  The Colorado Supreme Court will be deciding that issue.

Regardless of the outcome, our elected officials will be forced to laser-focus on the state budget, also known as the “Long Bill” as soon as they return.  It is the one thing our legislature is required to pass each year and with economic forecasts all over the map, lawmakers will be hard-pressed to make it balance, which they are also required to do.

To make their job a little easier, the Republican Liberty Caucus of Colorado has come up with a short list of bills that ought to die immediately, if not sooner. These are “pie-in-the-sky” budget busters that seemed like a good idea when it looked the Colorado would be flush with money.  Now that our economy is sputtering and may continue to do so for the foreseeable future, these are initiatives that the state and the business community simply cannot afford.

In the Health Care category

HB20-1349:  The Colorado Affordable Health Care Option

Also known as the “Public Option”, this bill creates a state-run, state-financed health care option that places the burden on hospitals to charge fixed prices and insurance companies to pay fixed amounts for services. Sounds good on the surface, but in practice will lead to hospital closures and rationing of care. Not a good idea in times of a health care crisis, the scale of which we’ve never seen before. 

HB20-1103:  Coverage for Infertility Diagnosis and Treatment

This bill mandates that all plans regulated by the Department of Insurance provide infertility treatment, including unlimited attempts at in vitro fertilization.  It prohibits charging deductibles or co-pays for treatment.  This bill has already passed both chambers and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. We are urging a veto on this bill.

HB20-1158:  Colorectal Cancer Screening Coverage

Similar to HB1103, this would mandate coverage for colon cancer screenings on anyone 45 and older. This is another cost to insurers and businesses that they can ill- afford to absorb.

HB20-1008:  HealthCare Cost-Sharing Consumer Protections

Medical cost sharing, or “health sharing ministries” are formed by faith-based or community-based organizations and are an agreement to help each other bear the costs of catastrophic medical events.  This bill would impose stricter reporting and disclosure requirements and actually prohibits brokers from offering these plans during open enrollment periods.  Further, this bill gives sweeping powers to the Insurance Commissioner to adopt rules and impose fines. 

Education

SB20-089:  Educator Pay Raise Fund

Another bill with good intentions, this one comes with a $15 million fiscal note. It would attempt to augment teacher salaries throughout the state to the level of a $15/ hour wage or $40,000/year salary. With many people becoming unemployed and businesses closing, school systems in some communities will be struggling to stay open. This will only exacerbate the problem.

Regulatory Bills

FAMLI

This bill hasn’t been introduced yet, but would require employers, including the state to offer very broad family-leave options to have a baby or take care of a sick family member for an extended period of time. The details have yet to be worked out, but this is not the time to place more burdens on small businesses.

SB20-200:  Colorado Secure Savings Program

This bill creates a state government-run retirement savings program that would be partially funded with taxpayer money in order to encourage employees of small businesses to save for retirement. While the intentions are good, the free market provides this service at a much cheaper price. It would also add another burden to businesses and grow government at a time when we can’t afford it.

HB20-1326: Create Occupational Portability Program – SUPPORT

The state is already allowing doctors and nurses to practice across state lines without additional licensing during the COVID-19 crisis.  This would be made permanent and would expand to other occupations, such as dentists, CPAs, architects, etc.  This bill is exactly the type of deregulatory moves we need at a time like this.

HB20-1163: Management of Single-Use Products

This would prohibit restaurants from distributing plastic carry-out bags, straws, stirrers, etc. With the current focus on sanitation and social distancing, this bill is ill-timed.

Corrections & Judicial

HB20-1150:  Increased Penalties for Drug Possession

This would repeal HB19-1263 which reduced penalties and sentences for drug possession. Doing so would increase pressure on an already overburdened prison system with a price tag of $11 million.

There are many other bad bills in the queue that will impact businesses and our health care system. Our hope is that the legislature will focus on these issues and prioritize bills that free up businesses to survive and thrive in Colorado.


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