These are all of the Business and Economic Development bills proposed in the 2020 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about the bill.  If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange or highlighted in yellow. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments; yellow highlights mean conference committee amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Mega, Major, Medium, Minor+, Minor, and Technical. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

House

Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:

MEGA

HB20-1309 Income Tax Credit For Telecommuting Employees

MAJOR

MEDIUM

HB20-1046 Private Construction Contract Payment Requirements KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1084 Requirements For Dog And Cat Breeders And Sellers KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1136 Insurance Investment Regulation Modernization PASSED AMENDED
HB20-1298 Treat Economic Development Income Tax Credits Differently PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1326 Create Occupational Credential Portability Program PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1337 Automobile Recyclers Licensing Act

MINOR+

HB20-1003 Rural Jump-Start Zone Act Modifications
PASSED HOUSE AMENDED
HB20-1195 Consumer Digital Repair Bill Of Rights
HB20-1290 Failure-to-cooperate Defense First-party Insurance PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1346 Extend Innovative Industries Workforce Development Program
HB20-1354 Film Production Income Tax Credit

MINOR

HB20-1091 Divide Insurer Into Resulting Insurers PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1116 Procurement Technical Assistance Program Extension PASSED HOUSE
HB20-1165 Interior Design Practice PASSED AMENDED
HB20-1184 Sunset Colorado Seed Act PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1191 Outdoor Recreation Industry Office PASSED HOUSE AMENDED
HB20-1207 Sunset Regulation Of Private Investigators PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1211 Sunset Regulation Of Egg Dealers PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1214 Sunset Home Warranty Service Contracts PASSED HOUSE
HB20-1266 Sale And Transport Of Fireworks Exporter License PASSED HOUSE
HB20-1286 Sunset Regulation Of Fantasy Sports

TECHNICAL

Senate

Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:

MEGA

MAJOR

MEDIUM

SB20-101 Investigation Process For Pesticide Applicators PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
SB20-193 Creation Of The Financial Empowerment Office

MINOR+

SB20-002 Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant Program PASSED SENATE
SB20-054 Rural Development Grant Program Creation KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB20-068 Interstate Branches For State Credit Unions PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
SB20-120 Apprentice Examinations And Professional Licenses PASSED SENATE AND A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED

MINOR

SB20-047 Financial Institution Agent Analyses Not Real Estate Appraisal SIGNED INTO LAW
SB20-078 Dogs On Restaurant Patios PASSED AMENDED
SB20-133 Business Fiscal Impact Statements KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB20-140 Powersports And Motor Vehicle Sales Bond Requirement PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE

TECHNICAL

SB20-046 Clarify Double Electrical Inspection Fees If Late PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE

HB20-1003 Rural Jump-Start Zone Act Modifications (Donovan (D), Scott (R)) [Roberts (D), Rich (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: $45,563
Fiscal Impact: Around $2 million in lost revenue at peak implementation, negligible additional expenses each year

Goal: Extend the Rural Jump-Start Program for another five years with a few small tweaks.

Description:

Extends the Rural Jump-Start program through end of 2025. This allows new businesses in rural jump-start zones to obtain income, sales and use tax, and property tax relief for up to eight years (re-approval required after four), as well as income tax relief for new employees. Changes the exiting competition clause to just the rural jump-start zone and contiguous distressed counties (was entire state). Currently an institution of higher education is required to partner with an economically distressed county to form a rural jump-start zone. Bills adds economic development organizations as additional eligible partners.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: January 2026

Arguments For:

This program has proved beneficial in the five years it has operated, with 13 new companies in the regions employing 215 people in 2019. But we only have 38% of eligible counties in the program (15/40) and a reason why might be the clause requiring an institution of higher education to partner with the county. Their role is to endorse business applications. Opening it up to economic development organizations is an appropriate way to potentially further expand this program into other areas of the state. We certainly need to make more progress in economic development in rural areas of the state, which are not seeing the same growth as urban/suburban areas.

Arguments Against:

The key question here is not how many new businesses have taken advantage of free money from the government, the question is how many would have opened their doors and succeeded without this advantage? Furthermore, how many of the new businesses started at the beginning of the program are still in business now? Because the goal is obviously to give these businesses a boost that will enable them to survive those tough early years. Without knowing this information, we cannot continue a program that disadvantages new businesses not fortunate enough to start in distressed economic areas.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1003

HB20-1046 Private Construction Contract Payment Requirements (Gonzales (D)) [D. Valdez (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Ensure construction companies working on larger scale contracts get paid in a timely manner.

Description:

For all construction contracts of at least $150,000 that are not with public entities or single-family dwellings or a multi-family dwelling of 4 or fewer units, the bill requires monthly partial payments to the contractor of at least 95% of value of satisfactorily completed work and any withheld percentage to be paid within 60 days after satisfactory completion. Also requires contractors to pay subcontractors along similar guidelines when the contractor receives payment except full payment must be within 30 days of completion. Late payments earn 1.5% interest per month. Subcontractors must submit list of all suppliers, sub-subcontractors, and laborers used to the contractor.

Additional Information:

If the subcontractor does not supply the list required, the contractor may withhold payment. If a lawsuit is required to get payment, court can award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Construction companies can frequently have severe cash flow problems. They of course have to front a lot of cash to purchase equipment and pay their employees and unfortunately, despite many companies incentivizing early payments, a recent survey of companies nationwide found 92% reporting they were not always paid on-time, with almost 33% saying they were rarely paid on-time. Another study found the average time for a construction company to get paid was around 73 days. Companies have to take out short-term loans, not pay wages, or delay paying subcontractors to scrape by. This bill ensures that on large-scale projects where we are not dealing with state government or a single homeowner, companies get paid at completion for the most part and within 60 days for the rest. We of course want to extend these protections down the line to subcontractors as well.

Arguments Against:

Part of the problem here lies with construction companies themselves, who are notorious for having difficulty sticking to exact schedules. The regime this bill envisions requires tight coordination between the owner and the construction company to understand what work is expected to be completed at the end of a month and how much will therefore be due. And then adjustments to the real state of affairs once the month is over. It may make it more difficult for owners to manage cash flow and financing, which may in turn de-incentivize building things like housing, which is one of the core needs in this state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1046

HB20-1084 Requirements For Dog And Cat Breeders And Sellers (Foote (D)) [Duran (D)]

AMENDED: Significant

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Crack down on commercial breeding of dogs and cats by closing off potential sales avenues for them and tightening breeding regulations.

Description:

  • No selling of dogs or cats in public places (adoption is OK) and no selling of dogs or cats in pet stores (again, adoption is OK) unless the pet store can document it obtained the dog from a breeder that followed these guidelines. Animal shelters and rescues are banned from purchasing dogs or cats at auction or directly from a breeder.
  • Prohibits dog and cat breeders from housing any combination of more than 25 dogs and/or cats that are more than six months old and have not been sterilized. Cannot house dogs or cats within an enclosure without a solid flooring, that is stacked on top of another enclosure, or suspended from the ceiling. Cannot deny dog or cat opportunity for exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, unless veterinarian says this would negatively affect the animal. Cannot breed a female dog or cat more than once per year or six times in their lifetime. Must screen for inheritable diseases common to the breed prior to breeding.

Additional Information:

Existing enforcement mechanisms, which the bill does not change, include ability to suspend or revoke license, civil penalties including a maximum fine of $1,000 per violation, and a class 2 misdemeanor criminal penalty (up to three years in prison and/or fine between $250 and $1,000).

Breeders or people who resell from breeders barred from selling a dog or cat to consumers unless it originated from a breeder that complied with this law, including pets for sale over the Internet. This does not apply to hobby breeders. Breeders must also make a good-faith effort to place each adult dog and cat that they no longer wish to own with an adoptive family, animal shelter, pet animal rescue, or other owner who does not intend to breed or sell the dog. unless If a veterinarian determines the dog is sick or injured to the point of requiring euthanasia, this must be performed by a licensed veterinarian.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

There is a nationwide epidemic of the sale and purchase of cats from high-volume commercial breeders, often known as puppy (or kitten) mills. These animals are frequently raised in poor conditions, sometimes including lack of adequate and uncontaminated food and water, lack of socialization and exercise, poor sanitation, confinement in cramped and unsanitary cages, and exposure to extreme temperatures. Animals coming from commercial breeders frequently have health and behavioral issues and can even pose threats to human health, according to the federal center for disease control and prevention. Unfortunately, well-meaning animal rescue organizations have locked themselves into a downward spiral with these breeders, where the rescue organizations fuel the commercial breeders by purchasing dogs and cats from them at auction. This bill aims at addressing all of this by laying down fundamental rules that should not interfere with small-scale breeders or the ability for people to obtain pets from animal shelters or pet rescues. Banning purchase at auction for rescue shelters is an obvious step. Banning purchase at outdoor public venues also chokes down on potential avenues for these commercial breeders to sell their product (and to them, it is a product) as well as protect consumers from fly-by-night or unscrupulous sellers who want to dump dogs or cats. Finally, the last avenue to close for commercial breeders is pet stores. While most pet stores are scrupulous, some are not, and do not do the diligence required on a pet’s health, leaving owners holding the bag. Most pet stores already do not sell dogs and cats anyway, and the few that do have time to adapt. People will still get their dogs and cats. We will just have closed off the avenues leading out from commercial breeders, as well as ensuring that anyone who breeds dogs and cats does so in a humane manner.

Arguments Against:

This bill is well-intentioned, but much like the animal rescue folks who are propping up commercial breeding operations, it causes more harm than good. The limit put on ownership is just a number, not a provision aimed at behavior. A breeder or pet owner can treat just one dog cruelly and another breeder or pet owner can treat 30 dogs or cats humanely. Some of the actual provisions aimed at behavior are also mistaking cause and effect. Stacking crates on top of each other is not ill-treatment. Leaving a dog in a crate all the time, not providing it food and water, being cruel to the pet or not preventing other animals from being cruel, these are all the behaviors we have to prevent and most of them are already illegal (thus the bill doesn’t address them). But the biggest problem is closing out all avenues of purchasing a pet except from a small-scale breeder (expensive, sometimes with long waits and inability to get the breed desired) or a shelter/rescue facility. The problem here is not only that shelters/rescue facilities will again not necessarily have the type of dog the customer is looking for, it is also that shelters and rescue facilities simply cannot provide the same type of consumer protection guarantees as a licensed pet store (the bill does not add any regulations around rescues and shelters). If the problem is that some pet stores are not behaving properly, that sounds like a problem of licensure enforcement. Indeed the major problems identified by this bill can be addressed simply through better enforcement of existing laws. Because is in the end, if you have large demand for a product but choke off supply while simultaneously not enforcing the laws vigorously, you don’t solve anything.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1084

HB20-1091 Divide Insurer Into Resulting Insurers (Williams (D)) [Snyder (D)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal: Make it easier for domestic stock insurers to divide into multiple companies with the approval of the state commissioner of insurance.

Description:

Allows domestic stock insurers (owned by shareholders) to divide into multiple companies with the approval of the state commissioner of insurance. Insurers must submit a plan approved in accordance with the insurer’s bylaws to the commissioner. This plan must include name of each dividing insurer and resulting insurers and a copy of proposed bylaws and articles of incorporation, manner of distributing assets and liabilities and ownership shares, reasonable description of all liabilities and assets, and anything else required by commissioner. Commissioner must consider if plan will jeopardize the financial stability of any new companies or prejudice the interests of original company shareholders or harm policyholders, if the plan is reasonable and fair, that there are no plans for liquidating any surviving company or making changes that are unfair or unreasonable or not in the public interest, and the competence, integrity and experience of management of new companies. Commissioner is to select and retain a third-party expert to review all plans of division and report back to commissioner. Insurer must pay for this service. Before approving a plan the commissioner must hold a public hearing with at least 30 days notice.

Additional Information:

Plans may be amended, with shareholder votes required for anything that affects division of shares or changes in bylaws. Plans can be abandoned before they become effective. Dividing insurer must pay expenses of commissioner and provide documentation as needed. This documentation is confidential. Insurers must make good-faith effort to contact all policy holders at last known e-mail address to give notice of the public hearing.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The process for this right now is very cumbersome and time consuming, they must use reinsurance right now, which can take up to decades to go through entirely because it requires almost all policies to expire. This process also gets confusing for consumers, as the reinsurer actually administers the policy while the insurance company holds the actual policy. The setup under this bill is used in many other states, with the added benefit of requiring the commissioner of insurance’s approval for any of these plans to go into effect and requiring a third-party to look over the plan to ensure no insurer is attempting to dump losses and that the resulting companies will be sound and able to serve their policyholders and shareholders.

Arguments Against:

While it is true that the bill has safeguards meant to protect consumers and shareholders, it is also true that the protection will not be as vigorous as current law, however cumbersome that may be. With something like insurance, better to err on the side of caution and keep things how they are.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB1091

HB20-1116 Procurement Technical Assistance Program Extension (Todd (D), Gardner (R)) [Esgar (D), Sullivan (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Unknown, since depends on non-profit’s ability to raise funds.

Goal: Renew the ability for state to contract with a non-profit to operate the technical assistance fund to help small businesses obtain and perform government contracts.

Description:

Authorizes the state to renew a six-year contract with a non-profit to help state small businesses obtain and perform government contracts. This can be done at any time in the future, so no new legislative authorization would be required for subsequent renewals. Existing contract expires in September. Terms of the contract are tweaked. Legislature was prohibited from contributing more than $200,000 a year. Now can match whatever amount the non-profit contributes from other sources. Contributions must still be a 1:1 match. Deal required at least 25% cash from the non-profit side in years three through six. Now any year after year three, including years in renewal deals like this would be, require at least 25% cash.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

In the last year for which we have an annual report on the program, this fund served 650 Colorado businesses. Its clients have reported winning 3,430 contracts worth nearly $647 million dollars. Clearly this is a few hundred grand extremely well-spent and a project that needs to continue. It is also foolish to cap this at $400,000 total ($200k from state). If the non-profit can bring in more, then we should be able to match it.

Arguments Against:

There should be some sort of cap on the program, from the legislative side of things. By all means allow the non-profit to bring in more funds on their own. But every dollar in the budget counts and a dollar spent here is a dollar we cannot spend on something like education or transportation. The contract puts us on the hook for the amount, there is no getting out of it. So we should decide on a maximum amount and stick to it. Frankly it seems like the current situation is extremely successful, so why not just leave the current cap in place?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1116

HB20-1136 Insurance Investment Regulation Modernization [Snyder (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Loosen restrictions on where insurance companies can invest money in a range of areas including mortgages, land, bonds, and equity.

Description:

Removes a number of restrictions on what insurance companies can invest money in:

  • For mortgages, can invest in 2nd mortgages and beyond so long as the insurance company holds the 1st No longer need a written appraisal or any improvement on the land or adequate fire hazard insurance. Can acquire mortgages on real estate in foreign countries so long as the country has the highest level sovereign debt rating of 1 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • Loosens real estate holding restrictions to allow land without any improvements upon it and mineral rights.
  • Allows investments in equity that are listed on a nationally registered securities exchange or securities market regulated by the federal government. These must not exceed 5% of the company’s assets and there are some restrictions on the types of equity allowed. Allows investments in foreign equity so long as the country has the highest level sovereign debt rating of 1 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. No more than 3% of company’s assets.
  • Insurers are already allowed to invest in bonds that show evidence of indebtedness. This cannot exceed either the greater of 3% of the insurer’s assets or 5% of the bond holder’s assets. Bill expands this to allow bonds that are in default of payment.

Additional Information:

Allowed investment types in unlisted equity are:

  • Common or preferred stock
  • Trust certificate
  • Investments in an investment company other than a qualified money market fund
  • Common trust fund of a regulated bank
  • Ownership interest in a mineral estate that has been severed from the fee interest
  • Instruments that may be converted to equity at the option of the issuer
  • Partnership interests
  • Membership interests in LLCs


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Most of the money insurance companies invest in are heavily tied to interest rates when it comes to returns. And interest rates have stayed very low for a long time, causing great difficulty to the industry just in terms of making their annual goals. The way they are structured they need to make enough money out of investments in order to keep premiums where they are, otherwise they may have to raise premiums to make up the difference. This bill allows for a wider expanse of more modern options for insurers that can bring in better returns without going off the deep end in terms of risk. It is also important to remember that this is for insurers located in Colorado. This bill will make us more competitive with other states in terms of companies wanting to locate here, as it aligns with accepted national standards. The section on allowing investments in bonds in default keeps the overall 3% of the insurer’s portfolio requirement for these riskier bonds. The mortgage requirement of 50% of assets is kept, and for the new foreign land assets, a maximum level of 10% of the portfolio is added. Investments in unlisted stocks is limited to 5% of the portfolio and the overall stock requirement is still at 10%. Foreign stock is limited to 3%. It is also important to remember that insurance company investments are heavily monitored. They are rated in terms of solvency and have capital holding requirements to ensure they can still pay out claims. And let’s be clear: this is nothing like investing in sub-prime mortgage securities, which weren’t even the actual mortgages themselves but funds of the mortgages. So we can loosen the reins here a bit but keep the safeguards in place to prevent insurers from over-leveraging their portfolios on risk while allowing them to diversify their holdings, which is also a way to lower risk.

Arguments Against:

Forget about modern investment instruments. In essence, this bill wants to strip a lot of guardrails off of what insurers are allowed to invest in so they invest in riskier holdings that may yield higher returns. Did we learn nothing from the Great Recession? An insurance company is not an investment bank or even a regular bank, they exist to provide financial backup to accidents and catastrophes. Yes it makes sense to allow them to invest the pile of premiums they are sitting on rather than just sticking it in a bank account. But an insurance company has to know with a high degree of certainty that overall in any given year they're not going to absorb an unsustainable loss. And this bill lets them invest in riskier land and property, including not requiring a written appraisal and other written guarantees, mineral properties (a boom/bust industry), second mortgages (if the insurer holds the first mortgage), properties without total fire insurance coverage (ironically), unlisted domestic equity, and foreign property that of course is well-rated by the insurance industry itself, not a third party. Which should be discussed here. Because we are always assured by investment types that everything is fine and under control and the rating system will ensure money is kept safe. And yet we learned from the sub-prime mortgage disaster and subsequent financial meltdown that this wasn’t so. Remember AIG? That was an insurance company. And why did they require a $150 billion bailout of taxpayer money? Because they got greedy and invested in poorly backed mortgage securities that become worthless when the market crashed. These are for-profit companies (Warren Buffett made a chunk of his fortune in this industry) but we are not obligated to ensure they keep making big profits. If the current market makes it difficult for them to hit profit targets, that’s business sometimes. We should not expose our insurance to greater risks just to keep them rolling in profit. Remember AIG? They made $648 million in profit in the 3rd quarter alone last year. As for the ceiling limitations on these areas, adding them up could get you 50% of a portfolio in mortgages with 10% of that in foreign mortgages and an unknown number in 2nd, 3rd, or whatever mortgages. Another 10% in equities, with 5% of that in unlisted equity and another 3% in foreign equity. Another 10% in real estate, which can now be entirely land speculation and mineral interests. Another 3% in risky bonds. That leaves potentially 27% in investments we know are not risky. Way too much risk for us to swallow.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1136

HB20-1165 Interior Design Practice (Zenzinger (D), Coram (R)) [Kraft-Tharp (D), McKean (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Clean up some laws around interior designers and prohibit local governments from rejecting building permits filed by interior designers for anything other than a reason provided by law.

Description:

Solves a conflict in statute over if interior designers can be engaged with work that involves the life safety of building occupants by removing a prohibition against it and keeping a requirement that they always do their work with due concern for the life and safety of the occupants of the building. Clarifies that local governments may only reject a building permit application filed by an interior designer for a reason provided by law. Removes specific education requirements that are duplicated by another requirement for national certification. Cleans up some other language.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is mostly clean-up work, other than mandating that local governments need a lawful reason to reject a building permit application, which is just common sense.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1165

HB20-1184 Sunset Colorado Seed Act [Buentello (D), Pelton (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Continue regulation of seed containers through 2031 and implement some of the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report.

Description:

Continues regulation of seed containers through 2031. Repeals fee caps and allows state to set registration fees by rule instead Raises fee caps to $200 except for custom seed conditioners and labelers which is capped at $700. Removes the fee discount provided to 2nd and subsequent locations. Authorizes state to make renewal schedule by rule and removes language setting each license as being effective from March-February regardless of when it was approved. Removes some obsolete language.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2031 with sunset review

Arguments For:

From the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report: “The Act primarily represents a “truth in labeling” approach to regulation to provide some assurance to consumers that they are purchasing the type and quality of seed that they intend to purchase. This is accomplished by the establishment of labeling requirements for seed and registration requirements for those who work with seed. As such, the Act represents the least restrictive form of government regulation consistent with protecting the public.” It also helps mitigate noxious weeds from entering our environment through mislabeled seeds. Fees are currently at their legal maximums and will soon be insufficient. The commission overseeing this program is budget-strapped and general funds have been required to help it operate. There is also no savings to the program for multiple locations, it costs the same to regulate regardless, so the commission is also losing money through these multiple location discounts.

Arguments Against:

The report also recommended removing the arbitration option for buyers who suffer damage due to issues with the seed, because the arbitration requires commission investigation and then is not binding, meaning the case can still go to court. The commission is spending money on this it cannot recover, frequently discovering there is nothing to arbitrate, and then the person can go to court anyway. There are have been very few arbitrations anyway, so we aren’t going to flood the courts with problems.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1184

HB20-1191 Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (Story (D), Coram (R)) [McLachlan (D), Soper (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None as the office already exists, it costs $370,000 a year to operate

Goal: Codify into the law the existing Outdoor Recreation Industry Office in the office of economic development.

Description:

Codifies into the law the existing Outdoor Recreation Industry Office in the office of economic development. Office is to serve as the state’s central coordinator of outdoor recreation industry matters, including resource development, industry promotion, and connection with the constituents, businesses, and communities that rely on the health of the state’s outdoor recreation industry. It must also make recommendations that inform the governor’s policy, and coordinate and support the industry in Colorado by promoting economic development, conservation, stewardship, education, workforce training, and public health and wellness.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This office was created by executive order in 2015 and has been a big success, including drawing the country’s largest outdoor recreation expo and conference to Colorado from Utah. This industry is obviously extremely important to Colorado, which draws millions of visitors of year who create billions of dollars in tax revenue. But it also helps with employee recruitment and retention, drives development near recreation areas, and attracts companies to the state. Enshrining the office and its functions into law ensures that no matter who the governor is, it will continue to function and bring value to Colorado.

Arguments Against:

This office is doing fine as an executive order creation. That allows more flexibility for the governor to tweak its mandate or its existence as proves necessary.


An office like this should be setup for sunset review. The sunset review process is important not only to ensure that we still need something, but also to thoroughly examine the program and see what changes, if any, should be made so it can function better.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1191

HB20-1195 Consumer Digital Repair Bill Of Rights (Bridges (D), Cooke (R)) [Titone (D), Singer (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Prohibit original manufacturers of digital equipment from withholding items needed to repair their devices from independent repairers.

Description:

Requires original manufacturers of digital electronic equipment sold in Colorado to make available to any independent repairer the manufacturer’s documentation, parts, embedded software, or tools that are used to help make repairs at no charge except for costs associated with preparing and sending printed copies. Any equipment with an electronic security lock or other security-related function must provide any documentation, parts, embedded software, or tools required to reset the lock or function. Failure to do this is a deceptive trade practice. Parts that are no longer available to the manufacturer or anything that would divulge a trade secret are exempt. But the trade secret cannot be the documentation, part, software, or tool itself. Manufacturers can redact documents to protect trade secrets and withhold additional information so long as the withholding does not diminish the usability of the elements used to perform service on the device. Manufacturers can still enter agreements with authorized repair providers. Any contract that limits manufacturer’s obligations under this bill is void.

Additional Information:

Documentation is defined as a manual, diagram (including schematics), service code description, or similar type of information that is provided to authorized repair providers. Embedded software is defined as programmable instructions that assist with digital electronic equipment operation, including programmable instructions in connection with the equipment or as a patch or fix to the equipment.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This prevents manufacturers like Apple from locking customers into using their own repair centers, in essence from exercising monopoly power to be able to charge higher prices because the customer cannot get the services done at another location. Companies are protected from revealing confidential information and can still designate authorized service providers so as to steer customers to locations the manufacturer deems suitable. Customers are then free to choose the authorized repairer if they want or an independent repairer if they want. Think of this like cars: you can take your car to dealership or to a private repair shop. But car manufacturers are not allowed to discriminate against the private shops when it comes to the tools and documentation needed to repair the car. This is the same concept, just with electronic devices.

Arguments Against:

This puts two different unreasonable burdens on manufacturers. First, a lot of resources are put into creating the tools that help repair these devices and the manufacturers have the right to decide who they want to share the fruits of this labor with. Second, the degree to which a device can be successfully repaired is critically important to a customer’s viewpoint of the manufacturer and the likelihood they will make repeat purchases. Unvetted repairers who don’t do a good job might reflect poorly on the manufacturer themselves and the manufacturer has no ability to refuse to allow their devices to be repaired there. Finally, many electronic devices contain very specific warranties that can be voided due to various actions and opening up repairs to any retailer may threaten customer warranties.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1195

HB20-1207 Sunset Regulation Of Private Investigators [Melton (D), Wilson (R)]

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Continue the regulation of private investigators for five more years.

Description:

Extends the licensing of private investigators for five more years, through September 2025.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2025 with sunset review

Arguments For:

Private investigators are hired to gather information for many types of inquiries including legal, financial, personal information, background checks, missing person searches, and computer crimes. All of this involves sensitive information and many other states require licensure to be a private investigator. The state received 37 complaints about private investigators in 2017-18 (last year we have data) and only seven of these involved practicing without a license. 14 complaints were not dismissed. The department of regulatory agencies may believe that the case of discipline against a PI for harassment is not enough to warrant licensing the profession, but given its sensitive nature and the low number of PIs in the state (515 active licenses) it is not a burden to ensure that they are regulated. The industry wants it, and there are only three states in the country that don't do it.

Arguments Against:

This flies in the face of the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies, which recommended that we cease the licensure. From their report: “Disciplinary actions against licensed individuals are virtually nonexistent. When discipline has been taken, the infractions have not been directly associated with the harming of a consumer. The argument most often used to illustrate the need for licensing is that PIs gain access to sensitive personal information and should be licensed to ensure they have been vetted. However, the most sensitive data are regulated and are accessible to only those individuals that have been vetted by the operators of the databases. The Colorado Office of Policy, Research, and Regulatory Reform (COPRRR) contacted the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s Identity Theft/Cybercrimes Unit inquiring about how often, and the number of complaints received regarding PIs committing identity theft. CBI responded that no complaints have been received involving a PI. COPRRR also contacted the Office of the Colorado Attorney General. It reported that a PI has not been identified as a potential investigative target. Consequently, because the public interest is not protected from clear, understandable harm by the licensing of PIs, the General Assembly should sunset the Private Investigators Licensure Act.” This also costs the state about $74,000 a year to operate.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1207

HB20-1211 Sunset Regulation Of Egg Dealers [D. Valdez (D), Holtorf (R)]

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Continue regulation of egg dealers through 2031 and implement recommendations of department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report.

Description:

Continues regulation of egg dealers through September 2031. Adds regulation of non-poultry eggs from avian species and authorizes state to make rules on their regulation. Changes where civil penalties go from inspector and consumer services cash fund to the general fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2031 with sunset review

Arguments For:

From the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report: “The primary purpose of the Egg Law is to protect consumers from the potential harm related to food borne illness in shell eggs. The regulatory mechanism employed by the Commissioner strives to protect consumers from these types of harm, and program staff work to ensure that the quality standards enacted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are met through the promulgation of licensure requirements and the performance of regular inspections. The Egg Law should be continued for 11 years, until 2031, since the Egg Program protects the public from harm.” Currently duck, turkey, and quail eggs, among others, have to be regulated by a different program and thus we have two sets of rules and fees for these eggs. It will make things run better to bring all of this regulation under one program. Moving fine money to the general fund removes any incentive for the regulators to issue fines in order to get revenue.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1211

HB20-1214 Sunset Home Warranty Service Contracts [Snyder (D), Williams (R)]

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Continue legal obligations home warranty service contracts must follow through September 2026 and implement recommendations of department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report.

Description: Continues legal obligations home warranty service contracts must follow through September 2026 and clarifies they are not insurance.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2026

Arguments For: From the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report: “The statutes governing home warranty service contracts do not create a regulatory program. Rather, they create a set of legal obligations with which home warranty service contracts must comply. The evidence suggests that some level of government intervention in the marketplace appears necessary to protect the public, and the current statutes appear to represent the least restrictive form of government intervention consistent with the public interest. Therefore, continuation is justified.”

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1214

HB20-1266 Sale And Transport Of Fireworks Exporter License [Mullica (D)]

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Remove the ability to sell fireworks that are illegal in Colorado to people for transport in a vehicle outside the state without a valid wholesale or retail license number on the bill of lading inside the vehicle.

Description:

Removes the ability to sell fireworks that are illegal in Colorado to people for transport in a vehicle outside the state without a valid wholesale or retail license number on the bill of lading inside the vehicle.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Someone buying fireworks in Colorado that are illegal here used to only have to have the license numbers for Colorado registered vehicles but could just have a license and registration for a vehicle registered in a different state in order to buy fireworks for supposed export to different states. For something as dangerous as fireworks, and in this dry state, we must ensure that anyone buying fireworks for use in Colorado is abiding by the law. Given that almost all fireworks are legal in surrounding states, it seems dubious that someone from another state would come to Colorado to purchase fireworks to bring back to their own state. We need to make true exporters go the extra mile here.

Arguments Against: Exporters already pay a license fee to manage this situation and keep detailed records on each transaction. This isn't likely to solve any issue with people purchasing illegal fireworks and using them in Colorado, as anyone wanting to do that is probably going to one of our surrounding states where they can purchase anything they want and bringing it back in to Colorado. This bill may hurt Colorado fireworks providers more than it helps prevent illegal fireworks from being used in Colorado.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1266

HB20-1286 Sunset Regulation Of Fantasy Sports (Story (D) [Garnett (D), Williams (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Continue regulation of fantasy sports contests through 2027 and implement the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report.

Description:

Continues the regulation of fantasy sports contests through September 2027. Transfers regulatory authority from the department of regulatory agencies to the division of gaming in the department of revenue. Repeals exemption for small fantasy contest operators (7,500 or fewer Colorado customers) from annual independent audit requirement.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2027

Arguments For:

From the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report: “…the absence of regulating the fantasy contest industry presents the potential for financial harm to consumers. For example, the fantasy contest statute requires small and large fantasy operators to maintain operating and contestants’ funds separately. Since the potential for financial harm to consumers who utilize fantasy contest operators exists should those funds be co-mingled, the General Assembly should continue the regulation of fantasy contest operators… Doing so will ensure that consumers are adequately protected from unscrupulous actions of registrants and licensees.” Since the legalization of sports gambling in the last election, it makes more sense for the entity that oversees that operation, division of gaming, to also oversee fantasy sports operators. Smaller operators are actually more likely to fail to come up with monetary prizes if they co-mingle contest funds with operating funds (which is what the audit checks for).

Arguments Against:

There have been zero complaints since regulation of fantasy sports began. Given the large nature of most fantasy sports operators, it may be unnecessary to regulate them (this regulation only applies to contests for money offered to the public). And if we are going to regulate, then we can keep exempting the smaller entities for annual audits. We may just be out over our skis in terms of how much oversight this industry requires.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1286

HB20-1290 Failure-to-cooperate Defense First-party Insurance (Fenberg (D)) [Garnett (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Set a series of steps insurance companies must follow in order to claim in court that the insured failed to cooperate with an investigation (and thus deny the claim).

Description:

Sets a legal framework for courts to follow in determining if an insurer can claim the insured failed to cooperate with an investigation (and thus deny the claim). Insurers must do each of the following steps:

  • Submit a written request via certified mail to the insured or the insured lawyers for the information the insurer wants. E-mail is OK if the insured has agreed
  • The information must not be available without the help of the insured
  • The information must be information the insurer would be entitled to via discovery in a lawsuit
  • The request must cite the specific policy language that entitles the insurer to the information. General statements of duty to cooperate are insufficient
  • The insured must have 60 days to respond
  • The failure to respond must make the insurer’s task impossible
  • The insurer must give written notice after the 60 days that allows the insured to supply what is needed. This must happen within 30 days of the initial time period expiring
  • The insured must again fail to respond within 60 days

Any language that violates this section is made void.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This provides a common-sense framework to ensure that insured individuals are given every opportunity to cooperate with an insurance company and that the cooperation is for a real issue, not a hoop the insurance company is hoping the insured won’t jump through so the insurer can refuse to pay. In particular requiring specific policy language will force insurers to make it known precisely what they need in any investigation in the contract language itself.

Arguments Against:

Courts do a fine job right now of adjudicating these cases, in particular the fact that there is no specific law allows them to use their discretion, which can include finding that the insured did materially cooperate with the insurance company even if every last single document was not provided. This bill sets out a standard that individuals could fail, even by just one document, which would then tie the hands of the judge. It may also lead to insurers over-stuffing contracts with clauses allowing them access to all sorts of things they do not actually need in order to adhere to the specific policy language requirement.


The fact is that insurers need information to properly process claims, including protecting against fraud. The massive 120 window for compliance is far too large, especially since it relates to each request for information, which could string these cases out for too long a period of time, which is also not good for the insured. And requiring specific policy clauses is too much of a burden, given that many situations are slightly different and the insurer may have different needs in those different situations.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1290

HB20-1298 Treat Economic Development Income Tax Credits Differently (Garcia (D), Tate (R)) [Kraft-Tharp (D), Esgar (D)]

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: $30 million total lost revenue over three years

Goal: Extend existing program to give more flexibility for certain tax credits to be either carry-forward or transferable for businesses that make $100 million strategic investments in the state.

Description:

Extends an existing program that allows some businesses that make $100 million strategic capital investments in the state to treat several state tax credits as either carry forward for a five-year period (meaning you have that long to actually take them on your return) or transferable. These include the Colorado job growth incentive tax credit (50% of social security contributions paid on net new jobs in the year), the enterprise zone income tax credit for investment in certain vacant commercial property (25% of cost with limit of $50,000 per building), the income tax credit for new enterprise zone business employees ($1,100 per new employee), and enterprise zone income tax credits for research and experimental expenses (3% on increase in these expenses compared to prior two years). Cap of $10 million in credits per year. Program now expires in June 2023.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: Program repeals in June 2023

Arguments For:

The great thing about this program is that it’s target level is so high that no company can just dip their toes in the water here and then pull out once the tax advantages are gone. $100 million invested is a company committing to Colorado for the long haul, and with the credits capped at $10 million per year we are looking at $30 million total less revenue in exchange for a huge investment in Colorado’s economy. It is important to remember that the qualifying credits are for new job growth, revitalizing buildings, and research and development. All things that create economic growth. So really this is an investment of $30 million that will pay off for the state for years to come. And spending that amount over three years is an easy gamble to make that it does actually make a difference. If we are wrong, $10 million less a year in revenue is not a big deal in the grand scheme of our over $30 billion state budget. But if we are right and don't do the incentive, then we lose the massive investment in Colorado.

Arguments Against:

We’ve had two companies take advantage of these credits since this program began and the $30 million question is if the credits really were the reason the companies made the $100 million investment or if they would have done this anyway without the tax incentives. The companies will of course tell you no, but recent history in New York City may paint a different picture. Amazon wanted to build a huge facility there but also wanted gigantic tax breaks in exchange. New York stood firm and said no. Amazon then built the facility anyway. So is this really a $30 million investment or are we throwing $30 million down the drain for behavior that would have occurred anyway? Colorado has one of the best economies in the country and is one of the top destinations as well. People love living here. Let’s bet on that instead.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1298

HB20-1309 Income Tax Credit For Telecommuting Employees (Crowder (R)) [Holtorf (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $126 million in lost revenue annually at full implementation

Goal: Create a $1,000 per employee tax credit for any business that allows an employee to work from home for at least 2/3 of the time the employee is expected to work.

Description:

Creates a $1,000 per employee tax credit for any business that allows an employee to work from home for at least 2/3 of the time the employee is expected to work. The credit can be rolled into future years if it exceeds taxes due, up until five years in the future. Credit repeals in 2032.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: January 2032

Arguments For:

Telecommuting has multiple benefits for our state. First, it allows people to live away from where most businesses are located (in the Denver metro area), which decreases the strain on housing in those areas, on transportation networks, and increases economic opportunity for rural areas and those with disabilities who cannot easily travel for work. The decrease in transportation also decreases air emissions. Employees do not have to commute and thus gain back significant amounts of their day, which may increase job satisfaction and productivity. Some employees may also not need to pay for child care, which is huge burden for many families. So this is positive behavior we want to encourage more of, and a tax credit is a good way to do that, especially structured per employee in this manner rather than just a tax credit for allowing telecommuting at all.

Arguments Against:

This may fall into the area of not a big enough incentive for a business to change its behavior while simultaneously overly rewarding businesses who already do this. The decision on letting employees telecommute this much goes so far beyond a $1,000 tax credit per employee. Even if you had 100 employees, telecommuting is a tricky proposition for many businesses, as it requires robust IT infrastructure, employees who can be trusted to work away from supervision, lower amounts of team-based work and community-based work, and no physical interaction with the public required. Many employees who allow telecommuting also require day care as part of this (they want their employees working, not looking after children), so you aren’t necessarily going to end up helping families out there. So we may end up not incentivizing anyone to do anything new while simultaneously giving tax money away to companies who are just operating as they would have without the tax credit. The state estimates about 126,000 Coloradans work from home already, so without changing any behaviors whatsoever we could be out $126 million of revenue.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1309

HB20-1326 Create Occupational Credential Portability Program [Bird (D), Van Winkle (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Create a set of core standards for credential reciprocity that most state regulators must follow to give credentials to applicants with equivalent experience or credentials and good standing in other states without any additional requirements.

Description:

Creates an Occupational Credential Portability Program by which a regulator may approve an application for license, certification, registration, or enrollment by endorsement, reciprocity or transfer. Each regulator is try to reduce barriers for applicants and must adopt rules to implement the program in the least burdensome way necessary to protect the public. Unless there are specific reasons to withhold any of these credentials the regulator must issue the appropriate credential to an applicant who meets the portability requirements.

Regulators are to recognize certification in good standing from another state unless they can demonstrate the applicant lacks the required substantially equivalent experience or credentials required to practice in Colorado or has committed an act that would be grounds for disciplinary action here. Applicant must submit proof of their substantially equivalent experience or credentials and that they have not committed an act that would be grounds for disciplinary action, as well as the credential fees. Regulators may determine by rule what constitutes substantially equivalent experience or credentials.

This portability requirement does not apply to combative sports, fantasy sports, mortuaries and crematories, non-transplant tissue banks, outfitters and guides, passenger tramways, plumbers, electricians, direct-entry midwives, or surgical assistants and surgical technologists.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Occupational credential requirements affect one in five Coloradans and the combination of our population growth and tight labor market can make it difficult for new residents who are skilled professionals that are credentialed in other states. Regulators should be providing reciprocity in the least restrictive manner possible and we should have one place where they are start from, instead of each regulator determining the base point on their own. The bill still leaves regulators free to write their own rules in terms of equivalent experience or credential required but does not allow them to throw up additional barriers that don’t exist for people trying to obtain credentials here, like additional work requirements or years of practice in other states.

Arguments Against:

We in essence allow this reciprocity right now, the big difference is that we have wisely decided to let each regulator decide what is and is not important when it comes to reciprocity, including things beyond just equivalent experience or credential. Because every state regulates differently, and we want to allow regulators the flexibility to determine in each case what should be required. So instead of having one central law like this bill that they all have to follow, each profession has its own section on reciprocity (that this bill deletes from law). If we have particular problems with particular professions, then we can look to rewrite their reciprocity language to solve them. But we should not just take a broad brush and say equivalent experience or credential, good standing, and no disciplinary actions are enough in all cases.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1326

HB20-1337 Automobile Recyclers Licensing Act [Melton (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Require licensure of all motor vehicle recyclers, with the standard fees, requirements, and oversight as other licenses, in this case including requirements to adhere to federal and state laws when it comes to disposing of hazardous materials.

Description:

Requires all motor vehicle recyclers who process more than five vehicles in a year to obtain a license from the state by July 2021. Licenses are valid for two years before they must be renewed. Operating without a license is set at class 1 misdemeanor. The state auto industry division director is given authority over the program and must set license fees to cover costs of administering program. To obtain a license a recycler must supply its national motor vehicle title information system identification number, have a designated business location, description or copies of any required permits for disposing of hazardous material, and demonstrate good moral character. For the character clause the director must consider any past license or registration suspensions or revocations in any state and any other personal history facts that are relevant to operating a motor vehicle recycler business. These must identified in rule.

Recyclers must keep easily accessible and permanent daily records of vehicles, equipment, attachments, accessories, and appurtenances transferred to or from the recycler. Each record must have a description of the item, name and address of the owner or vendor, time and date of transaction, purpose it was received, disposition of item, and if the item is a vehicle, the name and address of the vehicle’s driver and VIN, state registration number, year and make and model. Each vehicle received must be reported to national motor vehicle title information system in compliance with federal law

Recyclers must comply with all state and federal laws regarding disposal of hazardous materials. State can take action against recyclers who violate their license requirements or commit unlawful acts. These include cease-and-desist orders, fines not exceed to $1,000 per violation, and seek suspension or revocation of license. State may investigate alleged violations by issuing subpoenas and summons, procuring criminal records, and enter and inspect premises. Inspectors must notify department of public health and environment if it discovers more than 100 waste tires, a metal shredder, or open or unlabeled containers of motor vehicle fluids. They must notify the oil and gas commission if they find an underground injection well. Program set for repeal with sunset review in 2030.

Additional Information:

Multiple recyclers operating at the same location must hold separate licenses. So long as the facility has a license the employees do not need licenses. State to determine exact license application form. Location of the license must be either continuously or regularly occupied and conduct the large share of the recycler’s business. License fund created to hold fees. All fine revenue goes into the general fund. Records must allow a police officer to identify the object and must be legible. Records must be made available as evidence if necessary. Recyclers must require someone transferring any item to them the full and true name and address of the person making the transfer and the owner.


Auto-Repeal: September 2030 with sunset review

Arguments For:

There are multiple reasons to require a vehicle recycler to have a license and is common practice in many other states to require one. This profession is currently mostly unregulated, with just a requirement to submit the number to the federal system and a few small hurdles dealing with if the item is being delivered by the owner or not. That’s it. Cars have multiple fluids that are dangerous to people and the environment and must recycled properly. They may or may not have tires, which are also hazardous to the environment and must be disposed of correctly. These facilities can also be dangerous, with heavy equipment and heavy and potentially jagged pieces of metal. It is in the public interest to ensure that the facilities are being operated properly so as to protect the general public health, the environment, and the workers at these facilities. Licensure allows us to closely track all businesses in the state engaged in this activity, have detailed records in case of disputes over ownership, and gives the state a mechanism to punish companies that behave poorly. It is also not overly onerous, as the large capital requirements needed to get into this industry are far more likely to keep someone out that getting a license and keeping detailed records.

Arguments Against:

Licensure is the strongest tool we have for regulating businesses and as such should not be jumped into lightly. We have multiple other options for regulation, including registration. When it comes to cars, there are multiple laws that deal with proper disposal of hazardous materials so we do not need licensure to require that, in fact this bill just requires licensees to follow multiple different already existing laws in this area. Heavy equipment in and of itself is not a reason for licensure, we would want evidence that the increased oversight is necessary and that without it, the public interest will suffer. And that frequently involves asking the department of regulatory agencies to do what is called a sunrise review, which is a detailed exploration of whether licensure is necessary done in a similar manner to the sunset review. That was not done in this case and we should not proceed to licensure without it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1337

HB20-1346 Extend Innovative Industries Workforce Development Program (Lee (D), Hisey (R)) [Bird (D), Cutter (D)]

Appropriation: $950,000
Fiscal Impact: Minimal beyond appropriation

Goal: Extend repeal of the innovative industries workforce development matching intern program for innovative industries for five years and appropriate $900,000 to the program.

Description:

Extends the repeal of the innovative industries workforce development program for five years through July 2025. This is a matching grant program that funds up to $5,000 per intern in innovative industries for a minimum of 130 on-the-job training hours completed in six months. At least 80% of businesses receiving grants must have less than 100 employees. Interns must be paid at least $12 per hour and at least half of the grant money must go directly to the intern. Interns must not displace a current employee. Appropriates $900,000 for the program.

Additional Information:

Eligible industries are: advanced manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience, construction, electronics, energy and natural resources, engineering, and information technology.


Auto-Repeal: July 2025

Arguments For:

This has been a very successful program, with over 100 companies participating in each year of its existence and all of its $450,000 program fund spent each year, leaving some employees unable to participate. It provides great opportunities for those in post-secondary education to get their foot in the door and get paid. So it not only makes sense to extend the program, but to double its resources for at least the next year so we can help even more students and companies.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1346

HB20-1354 Film Production Income Tax Credit (Todd (D)) [Herod (D), Esgar (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Create a tax credit for expenses for film, television, and media companies that do projects with at least 50% Coloradan employment, at either 22% or 18% of qualified expenses depending on where the project is located in the state and a $5 million annual cap. Credits can be carried forward for 5 years or transferred and the program expires in 2025.

Description:

Creates the film, television, and media tax credit, which is available to a production company with a project that employs Colorado residents as at least 50% of the employees on the project. Credit is up to 22% of qualified expenditures for productions activities in counties or cities with a population of less than 150,000 and up to 18% for all other areas of the state. Credit is capped at a total of $5 million annually. Credits can be carried forward for up to five years and may be transferred to another taxpayer. The state must develop a system to track and verify the issuance, transfer, and ownership of credits. Transfer of a credit must be approved by the state office of economic development. No credit worth less than $50,000 may be transferred. Entire tax credit expires in 2025.

Production must apply for the credit prior to beginning the project and submit a statement of intent, including where the project will take place. State office of film, television, and media must approve this submission conditionally and include the maximum amount of tax credit the production company may claim, taking into account the yearly cap. Production company has two years from approval to complete the project or risk losing the conditional approval, which the state may then grant to someone else. Production company must use a CPA from Colorado to review and report its financial statements and produce any documentation necessary to prove that claimed expenses are in fact qualified.

Additional Information:

Qualified expenditures are payments to a business or person in Colorado and may include payments for:

  • Developing or purchasing the story and scenario
  • Set construction and operations, wardrobe, accessories, and related services
  • Costs of photography, sound recording and synchronization, lighting, and related services
  • Costs of editing, post-production, music, and related services
  • Costs of renting facilities and equipment, including location fees, leasing vehicles, and providing food and lodging to people working on production
  • Airfare purchased through a Colorado-based travel agency or company
  • Insurance and bonding purchased through a Colorado-based insurance agent
  • Other direct costs deemed appropriate by state office of film, television, and media
  • Up to one million dollars per employee or contractors (Colorado state taxes must be withheld for payments to be eligible)

State must compile list of CPAs willing to do this work and make it public on its website.

Productions that are partnerships, limited liability companies, S corporations, or similar pass-through entities may transfer credits to partners, shareholders, members, or other constituent tax payers (this is how these corporations pay their taxes, passed to individual returns).


Auto-Repeal: January 2026

Arguments For:

After years of low incentive funding the state’s film industry is in decline. Colorado film, television, and media businesses are closing or moving to other states and taking jobs, infrastructure, and tax dollars with them. Rural areas are no longer receiving the benefits of local shoots and film and media students find it difficult to stay in the state and pursue their career dreams. Transferrable tax credits can encourage and empower production companies to do business in Colorado, which in turn can grow our tax base, bring investment back to rural Colorado, and provide opportunities for Colorado students to work in the field. The tax credits are generous but capped, so the state will never spend more than $5 million in a single year. A small investment that could pay big dividends.

Arguments Against:

This tax incentive may be the sour spot of spending state money but nowhere near at the level required to actually get these businesses here. New Mexico just doubled its program from $50 million to $110 million. Georgia has no annual cap and has seen a boom in its film and television industry. California of course spends the most, over $300 million annually. The other big, multi-million dollar question is: are these giant credits worth it? Some research has said no, that the number of jobs produced by the film industry is small enough to not register on job and wage growth measurements. We should let California, New Mexico, Georgia, and other states fall all over themselves to shovel money at this multi-billion dollar industry and keep our own tax money for better purposes: like funding our schools or building our roads.


This incentive is too small to make a difference. We need to either drastically increase the cap to be able to compete with a state like New Mexico or we need to remove it entirely.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB1354

SB20-002 Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant Program (Donovan (D))

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED SENATE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Establish a matching grant program to aid rural communities in creating new jobs and diversifying their local economies into state law.

Description:

Establishes the rural economic development initiative (REDI) grant program to provide matching grants to rural communities for projects that either create new jobs or create diversity and resiliency in the local economy into law. REDI was created several years ago but does not currently exist in state law. REDI currently can also be used to retrain displaced workers and help local governments with infrastructure improvements. This bill does not allow these things. Local government, housing authorities, farmers just starting out, Ute tribes, non-profit economic development organizations, and private companies are all eligible. The program must prioritize grants that will create new jobs and must consider if the grant would create unfair competition issues. Dollar match requirements to be determined by the managing state agency.

Additional Information:

Rural community is defined as county with population of under 50,000 or city with under 20,000 25,000 that does not border another city with more than 20,000 25,000 people.

Grant applications must satisfy at least one of the following criteria:

  • Benefit a key industry in the region by encouraging capital development
  • Increase average wages in region
  • Encourage growth that benefits more than one rural community through collaboration
  • Show compatibility with relevant communities and existing plans
  • Show strong support from local government
  • Show strong support from local workforce agencies or boards if grant is being sought for workforce development

Grant money can only be used for REDI approved project unless local community has been impacted by significant economic event (or such an event has been announced), then the local government can use the funds for administering the Rural Economic Advancement of Colorado Towns act created in 2018. This allows the local government to coordinate non-monetary resources and assistance for the area.

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Over the last decade a whopping 98% of the state’s job growth has been in just ten counties along the front range. Many rural areas have lagged behind and those that are overly dependent on one industry are at risk of economic ruin at any point. This could particularly be true of regions that rely heavily on the fossil fuel economy, given the increased state regulations and growing attempts to combat climate change. The problem is that the REDI program as it exists now was never implemented into state law (and so struggles to obtain consistent funding) and has lost some of its focus, which should be on job creation and resiliency. Given the limited funds available from the state, we need to better prioritize this fund so it is more effective. We already exceed the meager funding (usually $750k a year) this program gets every year, so the need is clearly there, but we have to make sure the funds are being spent in a way that gets the best bang for our buck. Thus the matching funds requirement as well.

Arguments Against:

If the problem is that there is more need than we can meet, then we should look toward adding more funding, which this bill does not do but instead trusts that putting the program into statute will secure more funding, rather than putting larger limits on what can qualify. Retraining displaced workers is also critical for rural communities as is improving infrastructure to be able to attract a wider array of businesses.


People are free in this country to live wherever they would like. If some folks choose to live in rural communities that is their choice but the rest of us should not be asked to subsidize their lifestyle by sending taxpayer money their way in order to make it easier to live in rural areas.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-002

SB20-046 Clarify Double Electrical Inspection Fees If Late (Tate (R)) [Arndt (D)] TECHNICAL BILL

From the Statutory Revision Committee

PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE

Description:

Clarifies that electrical inspection fees charged by the state electrical may be doubled if an application for a permit is not filed in advance of the beginning of installation.

SB20-047 Financial Institution Agent Analyses Not Real Estate Appraisal (Williams (D), Tate (R)) [Kraft-Tharp (D), Van Winkle (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Align state laws on exemptions from definition of a real estate appraisal with federal law.

Description:

Currently certain analyses prepared by an officer, director, or regularly salaried employee of a financial institution or its affiliates when the analyses are used for internal purposes only. But federal law also extends the exemption to an agent of a financial institution or its affiliate. This bill adds these agents to the state law exemption list.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

When it comes to something like real estate appraisals, it is important to have federal law aligned with state law, otherwise you can cause confusion and make it harder for some companies to operate inside the state. They may decide to base operations elsewhere to avoid the conflict.

Arguments Against:

The federal exemption is too loose, with allowing several degrees of separation from the original financial institution. You could have an affiliate of an agent to an affiliate of a financial institution be exempt. Too many degrees of separation.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-047

SB20-054 Rural Development Grant Program Creation (Coram (R)) [McLachlan (D)]

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: $2,500,000
Fiscal Impact: Negligible beyond appropriation

Goal: Create a rural development matching funds grant program for early stage businesses.

Description:

Creates a rural development grant program available for businesses in rural parts of the state that are in their early stages, employ people in the area, have the potential to export goods or services outside the area, and can provide non-state matching funding of at least 1/3 of the grant. Grants limited to $150,000 per business, per year. No limitation on businesses receiving grants multiple years in a row. Funded by $2.5 million appropriation.

Additional Information:

Early stage defined as raising less than $500,000 of third-party capital. Grant application must include:

  • Business plan and business model
  • Amount of requested grant and explanation of intended use
  • Names of key personnel in business, including investors owning 10% or more of business
  • Information regarding matching funds, including identification of all sources
  • Any other information required by state

Grantees must report annually on:

  • Milestone achievements
  • Operating metrics including revenue growth, job creation and retention
  • Creation of products or service prototypes and launches
  • Demonstration of product or service market fit
  • Raising of any additional capital
  • Details on any property enhancements
  • Any other information required by state


Auto-Repeal: July 2025

Arguments For:

There are still rural parts of this state that are struggling. They’ve experienced increased economic difficulties fueled by lower population, employment, wages, and property values. The way out is through new successful businesses in these regions and this bill provides some kick-start to help get these businesses off the ground. The strict guidelines ensure that we will only be targeting exactly what we want: a business that isn’t dependent on the rural region to stay alive but will spur economic vitality in the region. Requiring matching funds also ensures that we will be supporting legitimate business opportunities and will stimulate private sector investment in these regions.

Arguments Against:

This is enough money for 16 businesses at the full grant amount, which in a state with as many rural areas as Colorado may not be enough for all of them. While it is true that we need a viable business first, so not all areas may even qualify, if we are serious about the idea behind this program we need to have more funds available.


This is an unacceptable intrusion into the free market. A business that employs people in a rural area of the state should be treated no differently than a business that employs people in an urban one. People are people, and struggles may look slightly different in different places but be no less real.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-054

SB20-068 Interstate Branches For State Credit Unions (Moreno (D)) [Mullica (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow Colorado credit unions to open new branches in other states.

Description:

Allows Colorado credit unions to open new branches in other states, with 30 days notice to the state commissioner of financial services. Commissioner may enter into agreements with other state credit union regulators to supervise out-of-state offices

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is necessary to keep Colorado credit unions competitive with other credit unions based in other states. More and more credit unions are purchasing banks and multiple credit unions now operate branches in multiple states, including in Colorado. Credit unions would of course stay non-profits and would keep their members of part-owners. Since credit unions based in other states can already open in Colorado, this bill isn’t going to do anything that will encourage more credit unions from other states operating here. It will just level the playing field.

Arguments Against:

This is a slippery slope down the road of potentially ruining credit unions, which are designed to operate in communities, not as multi-state behemoths. While it is true that this is already happening, that is not a reason to jump in and encourage the trend, which may result in fewer, larger credit unions and potentially make it harder for smaller credit unions in this state to operate at all.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-068

SB20-078 Dogs On Restaurant Patios (Donovan (D)) [Garnett (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow restaurants to allow pet dogs on outdoor patios if the local government does not prohibit it and the restaurant and dog owner meet a few requirements.

Description:

Allows restaurants to allow pet dogs on outdoor patios if the local government does not prohibit it and the restaurant and dog owner meet a few requirements. There must be a separate entrance to the outdoor dining area that does not require going through the inside of the restaurant, the outdoor area cannot be used for food and drink preparation, the restaurant must comply with local ordinances related to sidewalks, public nuisances, sanitation, and any other control measures from public health agencies, the dog must be kept on a leash or in a carrier, and the dog must not be allowed on any furniture or fixtures. None of this applies to service animals.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

There is conflicting confusion when it comes to state law in this area. The food code prohibits dogs from entering restaurant patios but the governing body has issued exceptions. Denver has its own rules on the subject. All this bill does is lay out some common sense guidelines and then leave it up to local governments and restaurants to decide if they want to do it or not.

Arguments Against:

The bill contains no provision requiring restaurants to publicize that they allow pets. Some people don’t want to eat with dogs and might have no warning that the expensive meal or special occasion or both are about to ruined by a furry four-legged creature.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-078

SB20-101 Investigation Process For Pesticide Applicators (Sonnenberg (R))

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None if fees are increased, if not, then $900,000 next year and $575,000 annually

Goal: Create timelines by which the state must notify and take action against licensed or registered commercial pesticide applicators when a complaint is filed against them and give the applicators immunity from punishment if the timelines are missed.

Description:

Requires the state to notify the subject of a complaint against a licensed or registered commercial pesticide applicator within 24 hours of finding out who the complaint is against. Notice must include a summary of the alleged facts and any statute or rule the person is alleged to have violated the text of the complaint. If the state fails to notify on-time, then it cannot take any action against the subject of the complaint (including any civil penalties) and the person is immune from prosecution based on the facts alleged in the complaint. Also requires any proceedings based on the complaint , including license discipline, civil, or criminal action, for criminal action to begin with one year of the occurrence of the alleged facts the complaint is based upon. None of this applies to marijuana crops.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This bill doesn’t provide immunity against wrong-doing, it requires the state to act in a timely manner. The state has the resources to do this, with a little additional help which can be easily covered by a small fee increase for licenses. So any fiscal impact will be handled by the commercial pesticide applicators themselves. People will still be appropriately punished for wrong-doing but they will not be forced into dragged-out processes and they will get appropriate notification, including all the facts, of any complaint. Right now there are too many cases of people being entirely unaware of any complaint against them until it is really too late for them to come up with a good defense. Providing this notification is not a time-consuming or difficult task and it is reasonable to expect it would be done promptly. This actually should benefit the public in some cases, where any wrong-doing was unintentional. Knowing about it more quickly helps the company correct the issue more quickly.

Arguments Against:

The state can already get cease-and-desist orders if they believe activity is dangerous, so this is not likely to improve public safety much if at all. This is instead quite the potential shield against any culpability for wrong-doing and these are dangerous chemicals we are talking about. First, the state has to turn around any complaint made within 24 hours. That’s not 24 working hours, that’s 24 hours period. Receive a complaint on Saturday at 9 PM? Got 24 hours to get the notification out or not only can the state not act on the complaint, it cannot act on the underlying behavior in the complaint. At all. Total immunity. This is for a program with a staff of six right now (thus the large fiscal impact required to pull this off, nearly $900,000 next year and then $575,000 annually, which the assumption is will be handled by increasing the licensing fee) that receives 100 complaints a year and has a backlog of 173 cases to investigate right now. Which brings in part two. You get one year to begin a proceeding based on the complaint (and the year starts from the activity in the complaint, not the complaint itself), including criminal cases which of course can take a lot of time to build. Each case takes about 6 months just to investigate (and that is the average). And once again, if you miss the deadline, you cannot act on the underlying behavior the complaint is based upon, even if there is a mountain of other evidence. At all. Total immunity. Despite the changes to the bill that gives the state realistic timetables, it is still not good practice to provide total immunity from punishment based on tight time tables. Find another way to incentivize the state to speed up rather than letting people who do wrong go free over a 24 hour blown timeline or 1 year.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-101

SB20-120 Apprentice Examinations And Professional Licenses (Danielson (D))

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED SENATE AND A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Require disclosure on how many practical training hours plumber and electrician apprentices are getting and require apprentices in those fields who have been registered for six years to start attempted journeyman license exams.

Description:

Requires that electrician and plumber apprentices take a journeyman’s license examination if they have been registered with the state for six years. Those Electricians who meet all other licensure requirements must take it twice once every year at least once every three years in alignment with license renewal until they pass. Plumbers must do it at least every two years. Those who do not meet other requirements must take it once every two years until they pass. If an apprentice has a learning disability they may request the board make accommodations for them to take the exam with appropriate levels of support. If someone has failed to pass in two consecutive three year periods they can request an exemption from the state from the requirements of this bill.

Everyone who employs an apprentice in these industries must report to the state the cumulative number of practical training hours each apprentice has completed toward licensure requirements. Requires employer to remove apprentices that are no longer employed as apprentices and annually notify the board (instead of 30 days after termination of employment). This information will be provided to the state’s online apprenticeship directory. This must begin by 2022 and then be done annually. Failure to report this information or failure by the apprentice to take the exam as required may result in the suspension of the apprentice’s registration. Requires state to conduct research to determine what barriers exist in preparation and taking of examination for whom English is a second language.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

An apprenticeship is an extremely valuable entry into either of these professions and there are only so many to go around. If someone who has met all of the requirements is not taking the licensure exam, then they need to get out of the way for someone who is willing to do so. Nearly half of the apprentices in the plumbing program right now have been so for over 10 years and nearly 1/5 have been for over 20 years. This should only take about five years. Right now we have too many apprentices and not enough openings, and apprentices are being held in position so employers don’t have to pay more. Having this information on the state directory also gives potential apprentices an idea of exactly how much practical training they are going to get, critical information to know when thinking about how long it will take to fulfill licensure requirements.

Arguments Against:

What if the apprentice doesn’t want to take the exam? We should never force someone to take a licensing exam based on the number of hours they’ve worked. That is a personal decision and the apprentice should be able to opt-out. If the person employing the apprentice is preventing them from taking the test, that is another matter and we can find other ways to force the employer to allow the apprentice to take the test. If the problem is that the employers are preventing apprentices from gaining the other things required to gain licensure (like the number of hours required), then that again is another problem that needs a different solution.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-120

SB20-133 Business Fiscal Impact Statements (Woodward (R)) [Kraft-Tharp (D), Williams (R)]

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal: Allow leadership in both chambers to request impacts of legislation on businesses as part of the fiscal note for a limited number of bills each session.

Description:

Allows the speaker of the house, house minority leader, senate president, and senate minority leader to each request business impacts as part of the fiscal note for up to two bills during each legislative session. The non-partisan legislative council must meet with the leader who requested the note and the note sponsor to see if adding this is feasible for the bill. If it is not, the leader may substitute a different bill. Note must use available data to analyze the potential direct economic effects of a legislative measure on state businesses, including compliance costs, any job losses related to the measure, and any cost savings or reductions. Council must designate five-day period during which businesses may meet with the council to discuss potential impact of bill. These comments must be summarized and included with each note. The director of research at the legislative council may allow more business impact statements at their discretion.

Additional Information:

If bill is selected in last 30 days of session, the comment period can be shorter but must always be at least 24 hours.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The fiscal note is the gospel that all legislators adhere to when considering the impact a bill will have on state finances. But some bills may also have far-reaching impacts on businesses in the state and rather than rely on the biased input of lobbyists or anecdotal witness testimony, we should be able to have a guide with hard numbers and facts to help make big decisions. No one is claiming the information will be perfect and the notes will likely have ranges of estimates in many cases. This already happens for notes where the projected revenue or loss of revenue for a bill is difficult to estimate. But we absolutely should not be able to hide behind the fact that these things can be difficult. We can know the rough ballpark in most cases (and if we can’t, the council can say it isn’t possible for this bill). This bill also limits the usage of such notes, so it should not be overly burdensome for the legislative council staff.

Arguments Against:

The council staff is already worked to the bone to get out fiscal notes for the hundreds of bills introduced each year and does not extra work, particularly when that extra work jumps far out of the area of expertise of the staff. Fiscal notes right now are reliable because the council has years of experiencing in predicting impacts of legislation on state expenditures. It can consult with relevant departments and know exactly how much staff would be required, for instance, to implement out a bill. Future economic impacts are the realm of economists and it is very much disputed territory. Instead of one known variable in the state government (notes do not get much into local government impacts because it tends to vary by government), we will have thousands of unknown variables consisting of companies of various shapes and sizes. How many jobs might be lost by a particular bill? Anyone who tells you they know the answer is usually either fooling you or fooling themselves.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-133

SB20-140 Powersports And Motor Vehicle Sales Bond Requirement (Holbert (R)) [Melton (D)]

PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Make it so only fraud violations are eligible for recovery from the bonds motor vehicle and powersports vehicle businesses and individuals are required to carry.

Description:

Businesses and people selling motor vehicles and powersports vehicles are required to carry bonds in order to compensate people for fraud or for a violation of the motor vehicle statutes if the board deems it recoverable to the customer. This bill makes it so only fraud violations would qualify. Also allows people to bring suit to recover money from the bond if the board or a court of law has made a finding of fraud by the dealer or individual and they have not yet paid the customer.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Current law leaves too much discretion to the board to decide in essence on a case-by-case basis if the violation warrants giving money to the consumer. It’s one of those cop-out “whatever else the state agency decides” provisions when really what this bond is supposed to be about is fraud. That is what touches the customer directly and that is what the bond is for.

Arguments Against:

The reason we have those “cop-out” provisions is a recognition that the board is wiser than the legislators when understanding specific elements related to their field. Our current system of giving the board discretion is fine.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-140

SB20-193 Creation Of The Financial Empowerment Office (Gonzales (D), Moreno (D)) [Coleman (D), Tipper (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Create the Financial Empowerment Office to grow financial resilience and well-being of Coloradans through increased access to banking, credit, financial counseling, and community wealth-building strategies. This work will include organizing local community coalitions, working with financial institutions to help the under and unbanked, align and support existing organizations in this area, and work with state treasurer to offer small credit-building loans.

Description:

Creates the Financial Empowerment Office in the department of law. Its director is to be appointed by the attorney general and the director may hire staff as necessary to perform the functions and duties of the office. At a minimum the director must appoint a manager. The office is to grow the financial resilience and well-being of Coloradans through community-derived goals and strategies. These include increasing access to: safe and affordable banking, affordable credit, free individual financial counseling and coaching, and community wealth-building strategies. The office is also to develop strong consumer protections. It may partner with any governmental or non-profit entity.

To achieve its goals, office may develop methods, programs, and policies; tools and resources to improve citizen’s financial management, including debt reduction, increasing savings, and creating and retaining assets to promote financial stability; and community-informed policies and systems that dismantle systematic barriers to building ownership and wealth for all, especially in low-income communities and communities of color.

Office is required to:

  • Support organization of local community coalitions to define and lead tailored financial resilience strategies
  • Align, support, and build ties among the numerous already existing efforts to build financial well-being and education in the state
  • Establish a state-wide coalition comprised of financial institutions, the state treasurer, local and state officials, tribal nations, and philanthropic and community organizations to assist the office in creating more banking opportunities for unbanked and underbanked individuals and families
  • Work with stakeholders to increase access to low-cost credit building loans and financial products
  • Develop technical assistance to launch or expand local financial coaching and counseling efforts
  • Raise gifts, grants, and donations to support coaching, safe and affordable banking, and potential loan funds
  • Collaborate with the state treasurer on creation and management of a loan fund to support small credit-building loans
  • Track community feedback on consumer financial abuses and coordinate with state enforcement teams, connect consumers with existing resources, and educate them on their consumer rights

Office must report annually to the legislature.

Additional Information:

Local community coalitions may include but are not limited to representatives of older adults, young adults, communities of color, underbanked and unbanked Coloradans, immigrants, low-income Coloradans, banks, credit unions, local service providers, local government agencies, and philanthropic organizations.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For: 

Being unbanked or underbanked is a large problem. 4% of Coloradans are unbanked (have no banking facilities) and 19% are underbanked (do not have access to mainstream financial services and products offered by retail banks and credit unions), according to the most recent data, which means nearly a quarter of our residents do not have complete access to banking products, including credit cards and loans. People who are entirely unbanked face enormous difficulties in navigating our modern world. They cannot save money in a bank, they cannot earn interest on any savings, they have to pay fees just to cash a check, and they cannot access any sort of credit. Those who are underbanked face difficulties too. In general they have to rely on alternatives to traditional loans and credit cards to finance purchases, which means they cannot build their credit. They tend to use money orders, check cashing services, rent-to-own services, and pawnshops. This adds up to a mountain of extra fees. Take check cashing for instance, used by both unbanked and underbanked populations. It is estimated that someone with a full-time job could lose up to $40,000 over the course of their lifetime just because of the extra fees. These operations are all also more lightly regulated than banks, which puts people at higher risk of being taken advantage of by predatory companies. In essence these people are put at a severe disadvantage that compounds over the course of their life, the perverse opposite of investment savings. In addition to the expected higher rates among low-income populations, we also find higher rates of under and unbanking among people of color, with African-American and Hispanic families twice as likely as Caucasian families to be underbanked. And while there are desperate efforts out there to attack this issue, as the bill notes, there is no central coordinated effort by the state. This bill changes that, and also attacks the issue of building credit. This can be a problem even for the fully banked, as they need approval to obtain credit building items like loans. Lower credit also means higher fees even if you did manage to get the loan accepted. Some of this is just educational, you have to start building that credit where you can, but a chunk truly is just giving people the opportunity. This is a spiraling effect: the harder time you have getting access to credit-building activities the harder it will be for you to boost your credit score. The private sector has had decades to solve this problem. And yet it is still with us, including its racial components. So rather than pretend that something will change now, it is time for us to step in and ensure the needed changes happen for all of the Coloradans who desperately need it. The increased economic activity produced through increased access to good financial instruments should more than pay for the cost of the office and its personnel.

Arguments Against:

The definition of underbanked as it is currently used is faulty and leads to inflation of the statistic. Someone who is underbanked must of course have a bank account but also must have used a financial service from one of those non-bank institutions like money orders or check cashing or payday loans just once in the previous year. This lumps in people who very rarely use these outside institutions with people who truly have no other choice. According the FDIC, we could basically cut the number of underbanked people in half just by excluding people who occasionally use non-bank money orders. So the first issue is that the problem may not be as severe as we think. The second is that in essence most people who don’t use banks either just plain don’t trust them (so we are going to have a hard time getting them on-board regardless) or can’t afford the fees associated with an account. That calls for regulatory reform, which the legislature can do, in order to increase no-fee accounts. It does not necessarily need an entire office staffed with who knows how many people going out and loaning money to people in an attempt to build credit. There are private industry options for this, from credit cards designed for people with low credit (yes the fees may be higher, but that’s sort of the price of having low credit to begin with) or non-profits with programs specifically designed for this issue. Keep the government out of it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB193