These are all of the Business and Economic Development bills proposed in the 2021 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

HB21-1041 Private Sector Enterprise Protections KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB21-1213 Conversion Of Pinnacol Assurance KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

MAJOR

HB21-1048 Retail Business Must Accept Cash SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB21-1288 Colorado Startup Loan Program (state stimulus bill) PASSED AMENDED

MEDIUM

HB21-1120 License Private Security Guards KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB21-1163 Allow Retailers To Absorb Sales Or Use Tax KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB21-1239 Protections In Consumer Sales Transactions PASSED SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
HB21-1244 Restrictions On Collection And Use Of Biometric Info KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB21-1263 Meeting And Events Incentive Program (state stimulus bill) SIGNED INTO LAW SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
HB21-1282 Add Consumer Protections Regulation Mortgage Servicers PASSED AMENDED
HB21-1285 Funding To Support Creative Arts Industries (state stimulus bill) SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1302 Continue COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program (state stimulus bill) PASSED AMENDED

MINOR+

HB21-1089 Assumption Of Risk Liability At Wakeboard Parks KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB21-1102 Consumer Protection For Dog And Cat Purchasers SIGNED INTO LAW SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED (category change)
HB21-1167 Private Construction Contract Payments SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1195 Regulation Of Radon Professionals PASSED AMENDED
HB21-1199 Consumer Digital Repair Bill Of Rights KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

MINOR

HB21-1013 Division Of Domestic Stock Insurer SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB21-1063 Model Law Credit Extraterritorial Reinsurance SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1124 Expand Ability Conduct Business Electronically SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1144 Bingo-Raffle Licenses And New Equipment KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB21-1147 Simplify Architects Continuing Education Requirement SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1223 Create Outdoor Recreation Industry Office SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1235 Regulation Of Fireworks PASSED AMENDED
HB21-1241 Employee-owned Business Loan Program Modifications SIGNED INTO LAW
HB21-1283 Vehicle Towing Consumer Protection PASSED AMENDED
HB21-1293 Banks Modify Threshold Credentialed Appraiser PASSED AMENDED
HB21-1296 Limited Gaming Codify Executive Orders PASSED AMENDED

TECHNICAL

Senate

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

MEGA

SB21-252 Community Revitalization Grant Program SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-291 Economic Recovery And Relief Cash Fund PASSED AMENDED

MAJOR

SB21-127 Department Of Regulatory Agencies Regulator Authority During Declared Emergency KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB21-190 Protect Personal Data Privacy PASSED AMENDED
SB21-218 Colorado Department Of Labor And Employment Employment And Training Technology Fund SIGNED INTO LAW

MEDIUM

SB21-001 Modify COVID-19 Relief Programs For Small Business
SB21-035 Restrictions On Third-party Food Delivery Services SIGNED INTO LAW SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
SB21-148 Creation Of Financial Empowerment Office PASSED AMENDED
SB21-186 Event Ticket Sales And Resales Regulation KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE
SB21-204 Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant Program Funding (state stimulus bill) SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-229 Rural Jump-start Zone Grant Program (state stimulus bill) SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

MINOR+

SB21-040 Driver's History Profession Or Occupation Decision SIGNED INTO LAW SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
SB21-091 Credit Transaction Charge Limitations PASSED AMENDED
SB21-241 Small Business Accelerated Growth Program SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-285 Coverage Levels For Occupational Accident Insurance KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

MINOR

SB21-132 Digital Communications Regulation KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS (category change)
SB21-147 Sunset Continue Licensing Of Athletic Trainers SIGNED INTO LAW
SB21-184 Ski Area Safety Plans And Accident Reporting KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE
SB21-259 Modify Nonforfeiture Percent Surrender Annuity PASSED
SB21-263 Outdoor Advertising Act PASSED

TECHNICAL

HB21-1013 Division Of Domestic Stock Insurer (Kolker (D)) [Snyder (D), Van Winkle (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $10,729
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal:

  • Allow domestic stock insurers (owned by shareholders) to divide into multiple companies with the approval of the state commissioner of insurance.

Description:

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: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This replaces a cumbersome, time consuming, and confusing (to consumers as well) process with one that many other states use, with the added benefit of requiring state approval and the input of a third-party expert

In Further Detail: 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:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 HB21-1013

HB21-1041 Private Sector Enterprise Protections [Woog (R)]

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: $2.8 million per year in legal services

Goal:

  • Prohibit the state government from passing or implementing any law or rule that interferes with the ability for businesses or their customers from using their free will and free choice and take risks in any manner, time, or condition that is acceptable to the parties involved

Description:

Law applies to all individuals and any sort of business entity engaged in selling any sort of product or service for profit. Law specifically says it overrides the state constitution. Bill allows any business to assert a violation of this law in any judicial or administrative proceeding of any kind as a defense.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Licensing and other restrictive regulations opt as enormous barriers in the marketplace
  • Small businesses are frequently just not equipped to deal with the avalanche of regulations that can be thrown their way, and the cost of keeping in compliance can become higher than a business with not many employees can bear
  • Personnel responsibility should be more important than government hand-holding. So long as people properly understand the risks of an activity beforehand and it is not illegal, it should be allowed

In Further Detail: Licensing and other restrictive regulations opt as enormous barriers in the marketplace, protecting current players and making it difficult to break in. Cutting hair, doing nails, driving a taxi, the list goes on and on (and there seem to be fresh attempts to add to it all the time). In our zeal to protect ourselves, we have gone too far in the other direction, making far too many professions bow and scrape to the government in order to function at all. We all need to take some more personal responsibility. If all parties involve understand the risks and the activity or product is not illegal, then it should be allowed. Obviously if someone is not informed of the potential risks that is a different story and would not be protected by this law.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This would destroy the ability to hold any business in the state accountable for nearly anything—gross negligence leading to death would simply be people undertaking a risk. The only thing that might survive is outright lying to people
  • This would prevent the state from regulating or licensing any industry: medicine, electricians, insurance: all of it would rely on whatever federal regulations exist—and for the most part this stuff is left up to states
  • You cannot write a law that supersedes the state constitution, that’s now how our government works

In Further Detail: This goes far beyond past efforts to put limits on the ability of the government to regulate businesses for public safety. There is no standard at all really, it is just that any business or consumer should be able to buy or sell anything they want as long as they are willing to undertake the “risk”. If there is no federal regulation or licensing requirement than the state can do nothing to protect people. Just to pull one example out of many, doctors are licensed by the state to practice medicine. Under this bill, if you were willing to take the risk of your car salesman neighbor down the street operating on you in your living room, because for whatever reason you thought he could do it, there would be no way for the state to stop it and potentially no way to really do anything about if after the fact. This would obviously be a disaster for public safety, and it would go far beyond just medicine. Finally, you can’t write a law that supersedes the state constitution. That is not how our government works. If you want to change the constitution you have to change the constitution itself. Any law that contradicts the constitution is unconstitutional and will be struck down.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1041

HB21-1048 Retail Business Must Accept Cash (Rodriguez (D)) [A. Valdez]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Require retailers who have a individual accepting payment in person for goods and services to accept cash. Failure to do so is a class 2 petty offense, with a maximum fine of $500 $250 per transaction

Description: This does not apply to transactions where the retail establishment is requiring a security deposit on a credit card or a credit card number to cover unforeseen expenses or damages.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Refusing to accept cash places some Coloradans at a disadvantage due to lack of access to banks and credit and they are the people who face the most burdens in our society
  • Some customers have fears of personal information being hacked and do not want to use credit or debit instruments for payment
  • It is a very small burden on businesses to accept cash—we’ve been doing it for over a century and an entire economic infrastructure is built around it. This includes security concerns and cashless businesses may in fact be in more danger during a robbery if the robber doesn’t believe the clerk

In Further Detail: About 25% of Americans are unbanked or underbanked, which means they lack access to a traditional bank account. Not having a bank account means of course you cannot pay with a debit card but it also means it is nearly impossible to get a credit card. That leaves very few options other than cash for payment, and those other options usually come with high fees. The people most likely to be underbanked are low-income, have less education, and be in a racial or ethnic minority group. They may not have the means or time to shop around to find stores that do accept cash. Also paying with a card means putting a lot of your personal data into a computer database that we have seen over the past few years is likely to be hacked at some point or another. Those who want to use cash for understandable privacy reasons should be able to do so. And using cash is not some great burden for businesses: we’ve been doing it for a century. Businesses already need bank accounts, bank accounts are fine with cash and businesses are used to having to deposit it. Security will always be more of an issue with cash, but again, we’re used to this. Safes, cameras, sophisticated point of sale machines, we are set to deal with the potential problems. As for the issue of robbery attempts, while it is true that having no cash means nothing to give to a robber, it is also probably true that most robbers aren’t doing sophisticated checks on what businesses accept cash and which ones don’t. So rather than not having anyone attempt to rob the store, you are more likely to get an angry robber who may think you are lying about not having any cash. For the loss of money due to robbery, that’s why we have insurance. Multiple other states already have similar laws. It is time for Colorado to follow suit.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This is an infringement on the right for a business to set up payment as it sees fit—no one is forced to use any business that doesn’t accept cash. We also don’t force businesses to accept credit cards
  • Non-cash businesses are much more secure from robbery and have fewer security considerations than businesses that accept cash
  • Cash operations are harder to track and more prone to error

In Further Detail: Fundamentally this is about the right of a businesses to operate as it sees fit without violating anyone’s rights. And there is no right to pay in cash. Businesses make operating decisions all the time that may cause some customers to not use them. Those customers are free to use other businesses that are more to their liking. The exact same principle applies to accepting cash. Note that we do not require businesses to accept credit cards and some don’t. This is undoubtedly a huge hassle and may cause some people to not use those businesses. Which is fine, that’s how our system works. Businesses have legitimate security issues around cash that do not exist for credit. From workers stealing from the till to people robbing the store, cash provides a way for direct access to a business’ money that does not exist with credit. A store with no cash, for instance, cannot be robbed at gunpoint for money. There is literally no money to steal. Cash operations are also harder to track and more error prone. Card transactions come with a range of automatic tracking, from point of sale to credit statements to bank account statements. Cash must have a system in place to achieve the same result. And it is much easier to make a simple mistake: either in counting or in making change or in grabbing the wrong bill.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1048

HB21-1063 Model Law Credit Extraterritorial Reinsurance (Rodriguez (D)) [Lontine (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Adopt the model law of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in order to maintain continued accreditation of the state’s division of insurance which operates our reinsurance plan. The core of this is the grounds upon which a US-based insurance company can get credit in Colorado for reinsurance it is assuming when jurisdictions outside of the state are involved.

Description:

Reinsurance is the process where insurers transfer part of their risk to other parties by some sort of agreement to reduce the likelihood of paying a large claim. This is called “ceding” and the party that accepts part of the risk in exchange for part of the premium is the reinsurer. The state runs a reinsurance plan for health insurers to try to bring down the costs of high-risk premiums, partially funded by fees on hospitals. If a state does not meet accreditation guidelines it is preempted by federal law.

The bill allows credits to be issued when the reinsurer has its head office located and licensed in a reciprocal jurisdiction, maintains enough capital by rule to assume the credit, and maintains a minimum solvency or capital ratio (again set by rule).

Requires the state to keep an up-to-date list of reciprocal locations. If a previously OK location is removed from the list, any existing credit agreements are allowed to remain in place.

Additional Information:

To be a reciprocal jurisdiction one of the following criteria must be met: non-US jurisdiction that is subject to an in-force agreement with the US, a US jurisdiction that meets federal requirements for accreditation, a qualified jurisdiction as determined by the state that meets additional requirements set by rule.

Reinsurers must provide prompt written notice and explanation if they fall below any of the capital rules and consent in writing to the jurisdiction of the courts in Colorado and to pay all final judgments. They must also agree to assume 100% of the liabilities of the credit. It must pay claims promptly.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is pretty basic: we need to do this or lose our accreditation. This is a model law in place all over the country

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1063

HB21-1089 Assumption Of Risk Liability At Wakeboard Parks [Soper (R)]

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Hold all wakeboard operators harmless from liability for injuries resulting from the inherent dangers and risks of wakeboarding. Require all wakeboard park operators to maintain all equipment, area, and conditions of the park in a manner that maximizes safety. This includes visible markings and warning signs of the boundaries and any information necessary for the safe enjoyment of the park. Must also print that wakeboarders assume all responsibility for injury from inherent risks on all park tickets
  • Wakeboarders must maintain control of their speed and course at all times and maintain a proper lookout to avoid other wakeboarders, individuals, and objects. They must heed all posted signs and refrain from acting in a manner that may cause injury to others. Any wakeboarder involved in a collision must not leave the scene before giving their name and address to park management. Failure to do so is a class 2 petty offense with a maximum punishment of $1,000

Description:

Wakeboarding is using a short board, ski, or skate with foot bindings on which someone is towed by a motorboat. Parks are any area designated and operated for wakeboard use. The inherent risks of wakeboarding include: changing weather; water conditions; collisions with other vessels, individuals, animals, plants, or other natural or man-made objects; and the failure of wakeboarders to wakeboard within their ability. They can be kicked out of the park for being careless and reckless.

Wakeboarders can sue each other for actions caused by the other wakeboarder, including causing a collision. They can also sue the park for violating this bill, but the statute of limitations is two years. If a wakeboarder does sue and win against a park, they are limited to collecting damages of $1 million, and derivative claims and non-economic damages of up to $250,000 each. Courts can exceed these limits for good cause.

For competitions held at parks, the park operators must allow each competitor a reasonable visual inspection of the course. The park assumes no liability for anything that happens in a competition, including death, that a visual inspection of the course should have revealed.

Additional Information:

The bill provides exact text of the notice required to wakeboarders that they assume liability for the inherent dangers. This notice must also be posted near the entrance to the park. Park operators have no responsibility for anyone that wakeboards beyond the marked boundaries of the park.

For courts overruling the limitation on damages, they must only apply excess damages to obtain an amount equal to the actual value of the damages for current or past damages. For future damages, these must be limited to loss of future earnings, medical care, or other health care costs. All of the limitations on damages are not to be disclosed to a jury.

The bill explicitly states in controls over any other statutes that may be inconsistent with its provisions.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a sport that is increasing in popularity, and with more than 4,000 lakes and reservoirs in the state, an opportunity for Colorado to boost its recreational economy
  • Setting clear rules of the road will encourage operators to open more parks, as well as provide clear avenues for wakeboarders to take action for wrongdoing.
  • Our general policy toward actions that are in and of itself dangerous is not to hold the owner of the facility responsible for injuries occurring out of normal activity—skiing is a good example of this

In Further Detail: According to USA Wakeboard, this is the fastest growing watersport in the world. Given the number of lakes and reservoirs in the state as well as our outstanding summer weather, this presents an opportunity for the state to boost its recreational economy. But of course that requires clear rules for operation, which will give potential park operators the security they need to operate a facility that hosts a potentially dangerous activity. And restricting liability in the manner of this bill is common practice for activities that are in and of themselves dangerous. You cannot sue a ski resort, for example, for injuries sustained during typical skiing activity because typical skiing activity can be dangerous. We also don’t hold resorts liable for anything people do if they go outside of the ski area boundaries.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This is too permissive toward park operators and is missing the key words that usually appear in liability restriction law: gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct
  • There are key differences between something like a ski area and a lake that should require tighter restrictions around park boundaries
  • The bill makes no attempt at a structure on lakes and reservoirs that allow wakeboarding but don’t have designated areas for it

In Further Detail: While we of course should apply standard ideas of the liability of inherently risky activities, this bill is missing a key phrase that appears in most liability exclusion law: gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct by park operators. It is possible to set up a park with boundaries, proper signs, and proper notification that is inherently dangerous due to the setup of the park itself. That is you can abide by the requirements of this bill but still create a situation that is obviously more dangerous than it should be. But under this bill park operators that acted in this manner would still be immune. Think about a park that really could only handle 20 boats on the water at one time but sold 200 tickets and had 200 boats out in the water. Not liable under this bill. The complete lack of liability over wakeboarding taking place outside of park boundaries is also a problem. The bill requires no effort by the park to keep this activity from occurring. And a lake is very much not like a ski resort. Skiing outside the boundaries of a resort is difficult because there are no trails and it is very hard to get up the mountain if you want to avoid going under a rope to get there. For lakes, we’re talking about one section of water and another section. Potentially just as accessible by boat (again the bill makes no requirements at all in this area). So yes, park operators should only be liable for operations in their park, but they should have a responsibility to ensure people actually stay in the park. Finally, this bill only applies to a lake or reservoir where there is designated space for wakeboarding. The non-partisan legislative staff couldn’t find such a place in Colorado, but there may of course be lakes and reservoirs that allow wakeboarding but don’t designate an area for it. They are left completely out of this bill’s requirements.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1089

HB21-1102 Consumer Protection For Dog And Cat Purchasers (Jaquez Lewis (D)) [Duran (D), Soper (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Very Significant (category change)

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Stop any pet store that was not licensed prior to the implementation date of this bill from selling pet dogs or cats. Any store that was licensed by the state can continue to sell pet dogs and cats as long as they meet conditions set by the bill, including price, breeder information, and license information

Description:

Specifically, stores must include the price of the pet and any applicable federal or state license numbers for the breeder of the animal in all advertisements, including on its website. On the animal’s enclosure, the store must post the price and the following information about the breeder: full name, kennel name (if applicable), city, state, and any applicable federal or state licenses. Before any sale, the store must disclose, in writing: price, interest rate or range associated with any financing or credit card offer, and the same breeder license information along with an unredacted list of all violations associated with all licenses in the past two years. Bill also specifies that local governments can enact more strict regulations.

Existing licenses can be transfered to new owners, either at the same location or a different location.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Commercial breeders, often known as puppy or kitten mills, are bad for animal welfare. Animals are frequently kept in poor conditions, have health or behavioral issues, and can even pose threats to human health. One of the key outlets for these mills are pet stores
  • Requiring full transparency around breeder information will allow consumers to make informed choices and hopefully naturally close down this pipeline, it will also crack down on some more nefarious practices around pricing and credit
  • We should not be allowing this pipeline to expand in any way—for stores that already sell these animals we’ll let them continue under full transparency so as to not damage an existing business

In Further Detail: 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. This bill aims to address part of this problem by addressing the pipeline of commercial breeders to pet stores, where thousands of animals get imported into the state for sale every year. 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. This bill ensures that no one will buy a pet without a full understanding of its breeding history, which should naturally close down commercial breeding paths. It also cracks down on some of the more nefarious practices of some around pricing and credit. Finally, it also ensures that we issue no more licenses to pet stores. Stores that already do will be allowed to continue so as to not harm their business but we should not allow any more of this activity to start. 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. Just from responsible breeders, shelters, or existing pet stores that adhere to full transparency.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:     

  • Enforcement of existing laws seems like the proper way to crack down on pet stores or anyone else in this space behaving badly
  • The licensing look-up and reporting requirements seem very onerous and perhaps designed to discourage pet stores from selling dogs and cats without explicitly prohibiting it
  • Banning any future store from this activity is anti-competitive behavior: if some businesses can operate under proper licensure and sell dogs and cats than we must not ban other businesses from doing the same under the same rules

In Further Detail: 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. Better transparency is certainly nice, although all of the work involved with licensing look-up seems fairly onerous and designed to stop pet stores from doing this without explicitly preventing it. But the core problem here is that the bill is saying that it believes pet stores can act within the guidelines of the bill and sell dogs and cats, but also saying that it won’t allow anyone to do this in the future. This is anti-competitive and just not how we operate in this country. If the activity is legal and safe, then we should not be preventing anyone from opening or expanding a business to do it. In the end, the problem of commercial puppy mills seems like a problem of enforcing existing laws on multiple fronts, not with the need for new ones.


Bottom Line:

  • This does not go far enough to crack down on pet stores and puppy mills. We need to choke off all avenues for these mills, which means no pet stores selling dogs and cats. Saying this is a big enough problem to not allow any pet stores to start selling dogs and cats but then letting existing ones keep doing it doesn’t cut it
  • The bill also avoids other major avenues for commercial breeders: rescuers purchasing at auction and outdoor venue purchase
  • The bill is now gutted and will allow business to proceed much as it has done previously, which just some notification requirements most people purchasing the animal will ignore

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1102

HB21-1120 License Private Security Guards [Caraveo (D), Weissman (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal:

  • Require all security and armed guards to be licensed with the state. This includes requiring wearing body cameras and recording interactions with public in the same manner required of police officers for all guards hired for physical protection
  • Licensed security guards may not carry firearms or use lawful physical force to secure or protect people or property. Only licensure requirement (other than fee) is no conviction in the past ten years for variety of violent crimes (see Description) and submitted to fingerprint based background check. If the check turns up any arrests without a disposition, the applicant must submit to a name-based background check. Applicants pays costs for both checks
  • Licensed protection guards cannot carry firearms but can use physical force to secure or protect people or property. Licensure requirement is same as security guards plus completion of 80 hours of training approved by the state (see Description)
  • Licensed armed guards may carry firearms and may use lawful physical force to secure or protect people or property. Licensure requirement is same as protection guards (although the training requirements are slightly different, see Description), plus a valid concealed carry permit
  • Anyone employing a guard must register with the state as a guard employer. This involves a registration fee and reporting requirements (see Description)
  • State must maintain a database of all licensed guards which must contain each guard’s past criminal convictions for certain crimes (see Description), and each termination of employment as a guard for misconduct and what that misconduct was. Database only available to a registered guard employer

Description:

State to set rules around marking, design, and equipment standards for cars used by guards during their duties, standards for uniforms (including external ID) for guards during their duties, and standards for when it is OK to wear plain clothes and issuing a plain clothes permit. State must create a licensure document that is the right size to be a photo ID card and contains the name of the guard, a photograph, type of license, expiration date, any permits the guard has, and any other information the state determines is necessary. Guards must carry their ID at all times while working and adhere to uniform and marking/design/equipment rules for vehicles. State to determine some form of identification guards must wear on the outermost part of their clothing at all times (including when in plain clothes).

For plain clothes permits, application must specify: times, events, and locations where the guard will wear plain clothes and if the guard is an armed guard, a copy of their concealed carry permit.

Training standards can be waived for guards with alternative training that is substantially equivalent or superior to the state’s guard training. This includes military training and training to be licensed in another jurisdiction.

Protection guard training must include: duties of a protection guard, communication protocols, interaction with law enforcement, and de-escalation practices. Armed guard training must include: duties of an armed guard, communication protocols, interaction with law enforcement, de-escalation practices, the legal use of firearms, and firearms training that is substantially equivalent to police officer training (must be approved by state).

Both protection guard and armed guards licensees must complete 8 hours of training to renew their license.

For all guards, list of crimes that bar licensure include: homicide, manslaughter, assault, menacing, criminal extortion, reckless endangerment, kidnapping, false imprisonment, enticement or luring of a child, crimes related to unlawful sexual behavior, human trafficking, or stalking, or conspiring to commit any of these crimes.

Crimes that must go in the database include all of these same crimes plus: arson, burglary, robbery, theft, forgery, fraud, bribery, and identity theft.

Licensees are required to report any of these convictions to the state within 30 days. Employers are required to report any termination for misconduct within 30 days and include the basis of the misconduct. Guards must report any use of physical force to their employer within 30 days, including the demographic information of the guard and the person subjected to force. Employer must then report to the state.

State can take disciplinary action against guards or guard employers, and require guards to complete additional training, for: engaging in fraud or intentional misrepresentation in trying to get or renew a license, violating a valid order from the state, violating provisions of this bill, being convicted of a felony, using false advertising, failing to pay a fine assessed by the state, using deadly force or authorizing use of deadly force unless it is necessary to prevent an immediate risk of serious physical harm to another person, using unlawful physical force, failing to use a body camera properly, using physical force that police are not allowed to use (like chokeholds), and being convicted of a crime that would disqualify them from licensure. Fines must be a minimum of $50 and maximum of $5,000 per violation.

Entire licensure and employer registration set to repeal with sunset review in 2031.

Additional Information:

Guards are forbidden from using dogs to detect explosives unless the dog is certified by a nationally recognized training association or law enforcement agency and the guard handling the dog is one of its primary handlers.

State has the usual powers in licensure cases: to inspect facilities during business hours, hold hearings, gather evidence, issue cease and desist orders, and take disciplinary action against licensees.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Colorado is one of the few states in the country that does not require licensure for private security guards: people whose job is to potentially use force against another person
  • We saw how tragically wrong these situations can go last year when an unlicensed security guard killed a protestor
  • Licensing not only provides statewide structure to this entire industry, but a way to hold people and employers accountable for their actions (not every bad action is going to be killing another person)
  • We license all sorts of professions in this state, armed guards should be an easy one to add

In Further Detail: Colorado is one of the few states in the country that does not require licensure for private security guards, which is crazy when you stop and think about it. This is someone being given a measure of authority over others, including using physical force to protect people and property and sometimes carry a gun to do so. And yet we have no rules around this profession, no tracking of the people in it, and no basic requirements before someone can do a job that may require harming another individual in the course of their duties. We saw last year how tragically wrong this can go, when an unlicensed security guard killed a protestor who was spraying bear spray toward him. The fact that in this case local laws weren’t followed (in Denver you have to be licensed in similar manner to this bill) doesn’t change the fact that providing stronger regulatory structure can prevent similar tragedies in the future. Denver has pulled the license of the company that hired this man. And it is quite possible that the reason this company used an unlicensed guard is because in most of Colorado that would have been perfectly acceptable. We license all sorts of professions in this state, armed guards should be an easy one.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • That shooting last year by a security guard was by an unlicensed guard in one of the three cities that actually requires licensure very similar to this bill (Denver). The licensure requirements didn’t stop the tragedy from occurring
  • This adds layers of regulations on law-abiding companies that do things the right way
  • We have other ways of holding entities that behave in a reckless manner accountable (and individuals too)
  • The security guard license level is not necessary

In Further Detail: The high-profile shooting by an unlicensed security guard last year came after the organization that requested the guard (9News) asked the agency (Pinkerton) that the guard not be armed. And the incident happened in one of the three cities in the state that requires licensure and its requirements are very similar to this bill, which were also violated in terms of clothing. So we should not pretend that licensure solves the problem of security guards shooting people. It does of course add layers of regulations onto companies that want to follow the law and are likely already doing things the right way. There are other ways to hold the bad actors to account, from liability to the entities for behaving in a reckless manner to actual criminal charges against the individual (as is happening with the guard in Denver who is being tried for murder). And even if you buy that the top two levels should be licensed, why are we licensing security guards who cannot use physical force at all in the course of their duties? Regulatory overkill.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1120

HB21-1124 Expand Ability Conduct Business Electronically (Lee (D)) [Bird (D), Soper (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Modernize state rules around registered business’ communications by defining electronic communications, including that unless it is explicitly stated otherwise e-mail is a valid method of notification and that receipt occurs if the e-mail is successfully received which does not require it to actually be seen.
  • Also allows boards of directors to hold remote shareholders meetings, so long as all shareholders are able to participate with reasonable notice and there are procedures in place to ensure no non-shareholders participate

Description: Nothing to add

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • It’s 2021, all of this makes sense

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1124

HB21-1144 Bingo-Raffle Licenses And New Equipment (Zenzinger (D), Smallwood (R)) [McCormick (D), Van Winkle (R)]

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $160,000 a year increased revenue

Goal:

  • Expand the definition of pull tab games so that they can use printed cards (right now must pre-printed) and approved electronic devices to reveal winners—right now such devices are considered slot machines and require a gaming license. Allows the state to collect fees to approve these devices
  • Require all applicants for manufacturers’, suppliers’, and agents’ licenses to disclose whether they or any owners, officers, directors, members, or partners have had gaming licenses suspended or revoked in other jurisdictions

Description:

A pull tab game is commonly called pickle, break-open, jar raffle, last sale ticket, or seal card where tickets show winners and non-winners and cannot be known or revealed until the ticket is broken or torn apart. The bill would expand that to not known until the electronic device displayed it. These games must include a predetermined number of chances among which there are a predetermined number of winners that pay a fixed and predetermined value of prizes. In other words, a raffle.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Mostly this is modernizing our raffle and bingo laws so that organizations holding these events can use modern technology. Licensing equipment for use requires work. It is appropriate to allow for a fee which is common in other areas of law. For the disclosure requirement, just common sense and extremely common for licensees to have to disclose this information upon application

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1144

HB21-1147 Simplify Architects Continuing Education Requirement (Hansen (D), Simpson (R)) [D. Valdez (D), Van Winkle (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Remove requirement that professional architects demonstrate retention of material presented in continuing education programs or courses. This allows renewal of license just by meeting continuing education credit requirements

Description: Nothing to add

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The retention requirement is not typical for other professions in Colorado and it is not common practice for other states licensure of architects. There is no reason to single out Colorado architects in this manner—just present your continuing education credit certificates like everyone else

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1147

HB21-1163 Allow Retailers To Absorb Sales Or Use Tax [Neville (R), Snyder (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Allow retailers to absorb sales and use taxes in their prices and advertise to the public that they do so rather than pass them along to the customer. Retailers that do this must separately state the purchase price and the full amount of tax owed

Description:

Current law forbids this, you have to charge the user the tax on top of whatever your price is.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This gives retailers more flexibility if they want to just absorb these taxes and not charge consumers. This would particularly apply to online retailers for whom the bulk of their business is outside of Colorado. The government shouldn’t care, so long as the right amount of money gets paid. And let’s be honest: this was already being done and not prosecuted anyway (there is not a single case in the last five years of someone being prosecuted for not charging consumers sales tax and absorbing themselves instead)

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • As we move more into a world where retailers are required to pay sales tax on everything sold across the country, no matter where the business is located, the idea of not bothering with this since only a small portion of sales is affected is less salient. Requiring the retailer to collect from the customer gives us a chain of money being spent and makes it all easier to track

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1163

HB21-1167 Private Construction Contract Payments (Gonzales (D), Scott (R)) [Duran (D), Will (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Ban all property owners, contractors, and sub-contractors on 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 from keeping more than 5% of the contract in reserve to ensure project completion and satisfaction (in the construction industry this is called retainage)

Description:

This does not affect other payment mechanisms in contracts, including provisions requiring satisfactory performance, payment timings, backcharges, or conditions that a contractor or sub-contractor must actually receive payment before paying a sub-contractor (or sub-sub contractor).

If the contract requires it, payment recipients must provide executed lien waivers for amounts actually paid.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Construction companies frequently have severe cash flow problems, with over 90% claiming they are not always paid on-time. This trickles down to sub-contractors on jobs
  • Retainage accounts are open to abuse. The bill ensures that the practice is being used as it was intended

In Further Detail: 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. And retainage accounts are notorious for abuse: the definition of “substantially complete” can be stretched beyond all recognition. Contractors hedge and hold even larger percentages on their sub-contractors. And the great recession in 2008, which hit the construction industry hard, also demonstrated how the house of cards of unsecured retainages could easily collapse under pressure. This bill ensures that on large-scale projects where we are not dealing with state government or a single homeowner, companies get paid in a timely manner. We of course want to extend these protections down the line to subcontractors as well.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Part of the problem here lies with construction companies themselves, who are notorious for having difficulty sticking to exact schedules. A busy company might actually make more money by moving on to another project rather than finish the one they started. Another part is simple risk management: for enormous projects no one wants to be left holding the bag if a construction contractor (or sub-contractor) goes belly-up in the middle of the project. For really large projects, larger percentages allow a pool of available money to tap to fill the breach.

Bottom Line:

  • This doesn’t do enough to curb potential pay abuses in the industry. First, by allowing such wide contract provisions to evade this bill, including project satisfaction, it may be easy for companies to have de facto retainage of much higher than 5% even if it isn’t worded that way. Second, by not requiring any sort of timely pay for work done, contracts could easily be structured so as to be so backloaded that again, you have de facto retainage of much higher than 5%

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1167

HB21-1195 Regulation Of Radon Professionals (Coram (R), Ginal (D)) [Van Winkle (R), Michaelson Jenet (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $79,085
Fiscal Impact: Net to None, additional expenses funded by licensing fees

Goal:

  • Require all individuals conducting radon mitigation or radon measurement to be licensed by the state, beginning in July 2022. State is to create rules for licensure for each profession, including adapting ANSI/AARST radon measurement and mitigation standards. To obtain a license, applicants must present proof of certification from a proficiency program in the relevant subject (radon mitigation or radon measurement), along with criminal background history (see Description)
  • To be licensed, all individuals must maintain professional liability insurance of at least $250,000 for radon measurement professionals and $5,000 for radon mitigation professionals. Must also list the state as certificate holder
  • Create a radon advisory committee to advise the state on radon industry practices and help create the licensure rules. Both the committee and Licensure of radon professionals set to expire with sunset review in September 2027

Description:

Radon measurement professionals must conduct all measurements in accordance with ANSI/AARST radon measurement standards or other applicable standards approved by the state. They must also maintain a quality control program in accordance with ANSI/AARST standards, ensure all measurements are conducted either by a licensee or an individual under direct supervision of a licensee, use and sell only radon measurement devices approved by the proficiency program that certified the licensee, and procure all laboratory analysis through a radon laboratory approved by the same proficiency program.

Radon mitigation professionals must conduct all mitigation in accordance with ANSI/AARST standards or other applicable standards approved by the state. They must also maintain a quality control program in accordance with ANSI/AARST standards, ensure all mitigations are conducted either by a licensee or an individual under direct supervision of a licensee, and modify and repair mitigation systems in accordance with ANSI/AARST standards.

License applicants must submit an attestation as to whether they have been convicted or entered a guilty plea for a felony, an unlawful sexual offense, domestic violence, stalking, or violation of a protection order in the last five years. State is to be guided by existing laws on considering criminal convictions for licensure (it is not a dealbreaker and state must consider personal character of applicant).

Licenses have application and renewal fees as set by the state. Length of time required before renewal also to be set by state.

State can take usual investigative and disciplinary actions against licensees (see Additional Information for more detail). As with other licenses they are subject to judicial review.

Members of the committee are appointed by the director of the department of regulatory agencies and do not receive compensation but can be reimbursed for expenses.

The following are excluded from licensure requirements to conduct radon mitigation or measurement: an individual doing so in their own home, someone under the direct supervision of a licensed professional, an agent of the government acting within their official capacity, and individuals in training in an approved proficiency program.

Additional Information:

The ANSI is the American National Standards Institute. The AARST is the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists.

Recognized proficiency programs include the National Radon Proficiency Program, the National Radon Safety Board, or any other program recognized by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and approved by the state.

The state can impose fines (maximum of $3,000), seek injunctions to stop someone from using their license, give cease and desist orders in an emergency where public health is in danger, issue letters of admonition, confidential letters of concern, or revoke a license. All of the following are grounds for action: violating an order of the state, using fraud or deceit when applying for a license, conviction of any the crimes the state must consider when issuing a license or failing to report such a conviction, advertising to be a radon measurement or mitigation professional without a license, being subject to discipline on a license in another jurisdiction, committing an act of omission that fails to meet applicable standards for mitigation or measurement, failing to comply with insurance requirements, failing to notify the state within 14 days of adverse civil judgements arising from the licensee’s work performance, engaging in false or misleading advertising, or failing to provide direct supervision of an unlicensed person performing mitigation or measurement.

State may inspect measurement locations and mitigation installations to ensure they comply with licensure rules. In response to a complaint or other knowledge the state may enter premises (with the owner’s permission) during reasonable hours to inspect, question people present, and require production of radon mitigation system plans, sketches, diagnostic information, and other evidence. May also inspect and test any equipment. Interfering with an investigation is unlawful.


Auto-Repeal: September 2027 with sunset review

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Radon is extremely dangerous (2nd leading cause of lung cancer) and prevalent in Colorado—which has led to a lot of unqualified people practicing as professionals which can lead to real damage
  • Licensure based on certification was the recommendation of the department of regulatory agencies sunrise review report, which studied the issue in-depth and found numerous instances of Coloradans being either scammed or provided inferior service

In Further Detail: First, radon is extremely dangerous. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer, causing about 20,000 deaths a year including 500 in Colorado. The state has a lot of radon in our homes and the need for mitigation has created a market in which unqualified individuals are practicing as professionals which can cause real damage. From the sunrise report: “During the sunrise review, COPRRR found many cases of consumers being harmed by substandard installation of mitigation systems. Most of the cases presented in this report relate to consumer harm in Colorado… In fact, COPRRR uncovered several cases in which radon tests were falsified or fraudulent mitigation systems were installed. While COPRRR staff is not qualified to opine on the science underlying radon mitigation, there does seem to be a correlation between indoor radon and lung cancer. Considering this, falsifying radon tests or installing fake mitigation systems seems especially callous… The majority of the cases of harm, however, relate to substandard practice. The purpose of a mitigation system is to create a pathway for the gas to safely move through and out of the home. In order to do this, a radon service provider must understand the basic science and protocols necessary to build a mitigation system appropriate to the building being mitigated. Without this basic knowledge, many things can go wrong. While two national certifying organizations exist that can assure minimum competency, they cannot prevent an individual who is not certified from providing radon services… Creating such a regulatory program would provide a level of consumer protection appropriate to the industry. Only those who are deemed competent would be able to practice, and the public would have confidence that those who hold a state credential understand the fundamentals of measuring and mitigating indoor radon. Moreover, when consumers are harmed, the state would have the ability to take action.”

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Licensure is the heaviest regulatory hand the state has, since the only qualification needed appears to be certification by a recognized body, it would seem that registration by the state would be a better regulatory step

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1195

HB21-1199 Consumer Digital Repair Bill Of Rights (Rodriguez (D)) [Titone (R), Woodrow (D)]

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Requires original manufacturers of digital electronic equipment sold in Colorado to make available to any independent repairer the manufacturer’s documentation, parts, firmware, embedded software, or tools that are used to help make repairs at no charge by 2023. 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

Description:

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.

Does not apply to car manufacturers or dealers, powersports manufacturers or dealers (both cars and powersports have their own laws in this area already), and medical devices except class 2 powered wheelchairs.

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: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This prevents manufacturers from locking customers into using their own repair centers and exercising monopoly power
  • Company confidential information is protected and they can still designate authorized service providers
  • This is the same concept as car repair: cannot discriminate against private shops

In Further Detail: 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:

Bottom Line:

  • Lots of resources are put into creating the tools that repair these devices and manufacturers should be able to chose who they want to share this with
  • The degree to which a device is successfully repaired will likely influence the customer’s opinion of the product. Unvetted repairers could therefore do damage to the brand
  • Many electronic devices contain specific warranties that can be voided due to various actions

In Further Detail: 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 HB21-1199

HB21-1213 Conversion Of Pinnacol Assurance [Soper (R)]

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: $305 million

Goal:

  • Convert the state operated Pinnacol Assurance, which handles Workers’ compensation insurance, into a private company owned by the policyholders. This must be done 120 days after the bill becomes law
  • Within five days of the conversion, Pinnacol must transfer $305 million to the state, with ½ going to state reserves and ½ going the Just Transition Trust Fund, which was created in 2019 and provides grants to communities, coal workers and their families that are affected by transition away from coal-based power
  • New Pinnacol must remove its employees from the state retirement fund by January 2023. This requires utilizing a complicated formula (see Additional Information) the bill provides to determine how much Pinnacol needs to pay the state retirement fund in order to continue to fund past worker’s retirement benefits and how much it must pay monthly to fund Pinnacol workers who are already vested in the state plan and opt to “retire” at the switch to new Pinnacol. These workers can continue to work for Pinnacol without penalty. It is estimated that this will all cost Pinnacol $234 million. Pinnacol employees are about 1% of the state employee pool
  • New Pinnacol will remain the insurer of last resort for worker’s comp (means they must insure any company in Colorado that requests it) through 2025. At that point the state may contract with a different insurer if it wishes, with selection based on the state procurement code

Description:

The new Pinnacol Assurance gets all of Pinnacol’s tangible and intangible property and is clear of any taxes, liens, claims, rights, or interests of the state. It assumes all of Pinnacol’s creditor and lien claims and all insurance policies and claims that existed with the old Pinnacol. The state loses all liability associated with those claims.

New Pinnacol is barred from dissolving or liquidating itself without the permission of the commissioner of insurance.

New Pinnacol may appeal the final number given to dissociate from the state retirement plan within 30 days of receiving it in Denver district court. If it does not appeal, payment is due within 30 days. No retirement benefits for any employee can be reduced. The state must also provide the monthly payment amount on or after the disaffiliation date. All eligible employees who want to retire must have done so by then, so the state will know the exact pool of people it must cover into the future.

For selecting the insurer of last resort, the state may consider: minimum rating for the workers’ compensation insurer by a nationally recognized rating organization, financial size of the insurer, length of time the insurer has been active in Colorado (Pinnacol is credited to its original foundation in this case), and the insurer’s demonstration of ability to provide statewide safety consultation, employer training, and accident prevention, claims handling, medical case management, rehabilitation, cost containment, employee return to work capabilities, and a physical office in the state.

New contract must be for at least 10 years and include an option to renew, the insurer must notify the state with at least 3 years notice if it does not want to renew.

Additional Information:

The current board of directors becomes the new board of the new company until such times as board elections occur under the new bylaws (board must create these). These must ensure that each policyholder is a member and that the new Pinnacol operate as a domestic mutual insurer.

Membership in the new Pinnacol is not a security and premiums or policy fees paid to Pinnacol are not assessments.

The one-time disaffiliation payment from the state retirement plan is calculated with a really complicated formula. First the state needs to figure out the entire current value of the plan, broken down by 1. inactive member contribution balances, 2. active member contribution balances, 3. retiree and survivor liabilities, 4. employer-financed inactive member liabilities, and 5. employer-financed active member liabilities.

Next the state must check and see if the assets in the plan (considering plan reserves and liabilities owed) are depleted by group #1. If they are, then Pinnacol owes its ratio of inactive member balances to the entire state’s inactive member balances (in all cases we are multiplying Pinnacol’s ratio to the entire plan’s assets). If it takes until group #2, then Pinnacol owes all of its inactive member balances and its ratio of active member balances to the entire state’s active member balances. If group #3, then Pinnacol owes all of groups 1 and 2, and the ratio of group #3 and so on through group 5. Pinnacol also then owes the pension reserves required to fund all of its accrued liabilities in groups 1-5. Finally, Pinnacol owes a health care trust amount equal to present value of the future health care trust fund benefits for all active and inactive Pinnacol employees minus the market value of the assets already allocated to those employees (in essence, to cover future payments). Pinnacol must also pay the reasonable expenses of the state to figure all of this out, not to exceed $20,000 if Pinnacol disaffiliates on January 1 of either 2022 or 2023.

Bill lays out provisions that Pinnacol already uses as the insurer of last resort, namely ability to charge higher premiums to companies that it would have otherwise denied, and surcharges on companies that had their insurance canceled by another insurer. Also the terms under which insurer of last resort is not required to insure a business, including if they already have a policy; if the knowingly refuse to meet reasonable health, safety, or loss control requirements; if they are about to close or face bankruptcy, if they don’t comply with policy terms, or if they fail to provide or provide false application or audit information.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This could be a win-win: Pinnacol gets to sell additional types of insurance and insure across state lines (which is why it wants to do this) and the state gets a nice lump-sum chunk of money
  • Pinnacol can easily make the payments required by the bill, it has about $1 billion in reserves
  • Rates should not be overly impacted going forward since the owners of new Pinnacol would be the very businesses paying those rates
  • Many other states do not have a quasi-state agency in the role of insurer of last resort and do just fine, we’ll be fine here too
  • No current employee who is fully vested in the retirement plan would have their benefits affected

In Further Detail: This is a potential win-win situation. Pinnacol wants to do this, because it would free them to offer other types of insurance and insurance in other states. 30% of the new business filings in Colorado in 2020 were for companies Pinnacol cannot serve without requiring the business to get another insurer in another state (and very few businesses would want to do that). The state gets both a big lump-sum chunk of money, which the bill directs toward maintenance reserves and the new just transition grant program, and out from under growing retirement benefits. Pinnacol has about $1 billion in reserves that would enable it to make the required payments. As for the impact on rates, Pinnacol would in essence be an investor-owned company. That is the very businesses paying their rates into Pinnacol are the owners. So making it private should not have any serious impact on rates. For worrying about the insurer of last resort, Pinnacol has already said it would want to continue providing this service and a lot of other states don’t have a quasi-state agency in this role and do fine. The bill would also open this position up to some competition, which is always a healthy thing, and we may find an even better solution than Pinnacol. For the employees at Pinnacol, first currently vested employees would not be affected by this change, they still get their benefits. Newer employees would of course be subject to whatever Pinnacol decided to do going forward.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • There is more uncertainty here than we should be comfortable with, Pinnacol’s reserves are going to be somewhat depleted through this transaction which might impair their operating ability as the insurer of last resort
  • We have a working system we should not disrupt, Pinnacol has been doing this for more than 100 years and there is no guarantee privatization won’t have an impact on their service or their rates
  • Even though it is owned by the business paying premiums, that does not mean all of those busy employers will take an active management interest, which opens the door to the board spending money, like on marketing for new markets, that drives up premium rates. What happens if the new markets flop?
  • The employees at Pinnacol are going to lose out, not any current employee fully vested, but everyone else is not going to see retirement benefits as good as what they currently would get through the state

In Further Detail: There are a few uncertainties here that should not be glossed over. First, we are taking a huge chunk of out Pinnacol’s reserves, depleting them by probably about half with on-going monthly payments required too. That may seriously impair their ability to continue to operate effectively as the insurer of last resort, regardless of the new markets that open up to them. Second, we have a system that is working here, Pinnacol has been in this role for more than 100 years and currently provides coverage to 56,000 companies, and there is no guarantee that privatizing them won’t have an impact on their service or their rates. Sure, the individual businesses are the owners, but good luck corralling 56,000 different busy employers to pay close attention to what the board is up to. Entering new markets requires a lot of marketing expense, what happens if it’s a flop? We have to protect the concept of the last resort insurer. Finally, it should not be overlooked that the employees at Pinnacol are going to lose in this transaction. Not currently fully vested employees but everyone else and every future employee at the company. There is no way that Pinnacol is going to offer retirement benefits as good as the state’s, so 600+ employees in the future are losing out.


Bottom Line:

  • This is not the appropriate way to spend the $300 million payment when we owe hundreds of millions of dollars to our schools and have about a billion dollars worth of transportation projects that need funding across the state

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1213

HB21-1223 Create Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (Story (D), Coram (R)) [McLachlan (D), Soper (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

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. 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.

Description:

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. It must also address the chronic and systemic inequities that prevent underserved youth and communities from engaging in meaningful outdoor recreation experiences and career pathways in the outdoor recreation industry.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • 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:

Bottom Line:

  • 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

Bottom Line:

  • 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 HB21-1223

HB21-1235 Regulation Of Fireworks (Story (D)) [Bird (D), Benavidez (D)]

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Require a valid wholesale or retail license number from another state for selling fireworks that are illegal in Colorado to people for transport in a vehicle outside the state. In other words if you want to buy fireworks that are illegal in Colorado in Colorado, you have to prove you are a licensed fireworks dealer from another state

Description:

Also clarifies that anyone with a fireworks license cannot sell, deliver, consign, give, or otherwise furnish fireworks that are outside of the scope of what their license permits.

Right now you can buy fireworks that are illegal in Colorado if you provide a driver’s license or registration from a different state at the point of sale.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Right now someone buying fireworks in Colorado that are illegal here only has to have a license or vehicle registered in another 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 and provide the actual license number

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 HB21-1235

HB21-1239 Protections In Consumer Sales Transactions (Rodriguez (D)) [Kipp (D), Boesenecker (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Significant

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Requires all auto-renewals for the initial order (so before the first auto-renewal) in the state to have consumer consent to the auto-renewal contract, a clear and conspicuous explanation of the terms, a written acknowledgement that includes how to cancel, an easy-to-use mechanism to cancel, and at least 30 days notice, but not more than 60 days prior to any charge for annual subscriptions. The last requirement, to provide notice before charge, applies to all annual auto-renewals, not just the initial one
  • A contract with an initial term of one year (so the first year of a new contract) automatically expires unless the business can prove the consumer has used the service during the 6 months leading up to cancellation and the consumer agrees in writing to extend the contract
  • Trial period offers must meet the same regulations as auto-renewals, with the added requirement that the consumer must assent to the automatic renewal after the trial period, even if they agreed when signing up for the trial, and that the consumer be notified at least 15 days and no more than 30 before any charge is made
  • Requires all dating, marriage, and personal referral services for matching people up for dates (see Description for full detail) to allow the customer to cancel within three days of starting with the service. Requires all of these services to furnish a written contract to their customers (can be electronic with viewing online for online dating services), which includes prominent disclosure of the cancellation requirement, and must be signed by the buyer (digital agreement for online services)

Description:

Automatic renewal is defined as a plan or arrangement for a paid subscription or purchasing agreement where it is automatically renewed at the end of the term. Trial period offers are a solicitation offering a customer a period of time to try a product which is used as an inducement to make a purchase of the product or a similar product. Clear and conspicuous terms is defined as larger type than surrounding text or in contrasting type, font, or color to surrounding text of same size, or set off from surrounding text of same size by symbols or other marks. You cannot force the consumer to click on a link to view the terms. Audio must be in a volume and cadence to be readily understandable. This can be an Internet link with more details. In this case clear and conspicious means occuring before consumer elects to purchase, appears in close proximity to any online link used to purchase, and states unambigiously and visibly, that by purchasing the offer the consumer enrolls in an automatic renewal contract and that details may be provided.

Social referral services fall under the law if they do any of the following: exchange names, phone numbers, street addresses, e-mails, or similar information; photograph or video selection process; personal introductions provided by the businesses at their place of business; or a social environment that is provided by the business and intended as an alternative to singles’ bars or club-type environments. In other states identical language has been held to apply to online dating sites.

The disclosure of terms for automatic renewals must include a description of the cancellation policy, any recurring charges and if applicable, that the charge may change and the new amount, the length of term, and if applicable, minimum purchase obligation. These terms must be presented in temporal proximity to the request for consumer consent. For cancellation, one-step web links are deemed to comply with the bill.

If any material change occurs in the terms, the business must notify the consumer a clear and conspicuous notice of the change and information on how to cancel the plan or arrangement. The charge notice must let the consumer know that unless they cancel it will be auto-renewed, the cost of the renewal, the deadline for the consumer to cancel, contact information for more questions, and if the notice is an e-mail, one or more active links to cancel.

For the dating businesses, money must be refunded within ten days of a valid cancellation. Businesses are banned from offering contracts that require payment or financing for a period of longer than one two years (obviously you can renew a contract) or that extend for the life of the customer. Businesses cannot allow customers to enter more than one contract at a time to evade requirements of this bill. Cancellation occurs via mail, telegram or delivery (effective at moment of sending notice) for physical businesses, for online businesses via e-mail or through another simple and easy-to-use method. All contracts must allow the buyer to end the contract if they die or become disabled and are unable to use the service. Money refunded in this case on a prorated basis only for the unused portion of the contract. If the disability is temporary (less than 6 months), the service may instead extend the contract an additional six months for no extra charge. If the service is offered in a distinct geographic area and the buyer moves more than 50 miles away, the buyer can get out of the rest of the contract by paying a fee, which is not to be more than $100 or if less than half of the contract is left, $50. Again money refunded on a prorated basis.

Online dating services are also required to maintain a reference or online link to dating safety awareness information that includes, at a minimum, a list or descriptions of safety measures reasonably intended to increase awareness of safe dating practices and way for members to report other members for bad behavior. If a service bans a member for bad behavior, it must notify all members who previously received and responded to a message from that member. This must include the username or other identifying profile information, statement that the banned member may have used false information or attempted to defraud other members, a statement that no one should send money to the banned member, and an online link that provides information on how to prevent being the victim of fraud in online dating services. This must be sent within 24 hours via e-mail or text.

Online services and their agents are not liable for actions taken in good faith implementing these rules, including the username notification.

The entire bill does not apply to political subdivisions of the state or their franchisees, anyone regulated by the federal communications commission, the federal energy regulatory commission, the public utilities commission, or the division of insurance, an airline, or a bank or credit union or other financial institution licensed under law.

All of this is added to the state’s deceptive trade practices law, so any action taken against violators uses those rules in civil court.

Additional Information:

Customers of social service contracts can provide cancellation notice either in writing (must be presented in-person), via telephone, via e-mail, or with a easy to use cancellation mechanism on the website. Every contract must include the 3 day cancellation policy in ten point type near the signature area and include a separate notice with the same cancellation rights.

Notice for auto-renewals can be provided by first-class mail, e-mail, or text message or mobile application with consumer’s consent.

Trial periods do not commence until the consumer can use the service or has the goods in their possession.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Laws like this (in both parts) are in force already all over the country. The sky has not fallen (although some companies are not in compliance)
  • The auto-renewal provisions are perfectly reasonable and center on consumer consent, particularly for the first auto-renewal in an annual cycle. If the response is that this will cause some people to not auto-renew where businesses would have otherwise gotten their money then good, that’s the point
  • Free trials that move into auto-renewals can be particularly insidious versions of this practice of trying to trick people into a few extra payments they didn’t want
  • The dating service provision is based on federal cool-off laws (which apply to many things but not to dating services) and again, are in-place in multiple states already. The online dating services already pretty much comply with this law

In Further Detail: More than half the country has similar laws already, so this is not some sort of crazy concept that businesses will ignore. The basics of the bill are pretty simple: consent should be required, at least tacitly in some cases, before charging someone’s credit or debit card, especially if it is then too late to cancel the term. Note that the bill excludes monthly auto-renewals from the notice requirement, so the advanced notice is perfectly reasonable for an annual subscription. It is also perfectly reasonable to require that at least when are renewing for the first time, extra precautions are taken to ensure that the consumer truly wants to continue with the subscription. If the argument is that some people won’t respond and then the auto-renew won’t go through: well that right there is your answer and it was no. No business should be making money off tricking people. And it is more than reasonable to require an easy cancellation process. The free trial part of this is particularly insidious—companies lure consumers in, put the automatic charge part in fine print, then grab a cycle or two of people’s money before the consumer wises up and cancels. Free trials are a fine promotional tool but no one should be charged at the end of it without permission. Otherwise it is less a promotional tool and more a way to trick people out of their money, $19.99 at a time. For the dating part of this bill it is pretty straightforward: if someone signs up for such a service and then discovers it is completely incompatible with what they are looking for or is just not going to work in a basic way then they should be able to get their money back, provided they act really quickly, so we aren’t giving out long free trials here. It is based on a principle if federal law called the cooling-off period that allows cancellation of many things within three days (though not dating services, thus this bill). This is also law in multiple other states already, so again, no one is reinventing the wheel here. And the online dating services? They pretty much all already comply with this law. The language of the bill may seem funky, but it is already in-place in multiple other states.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The requirements of proving customer use and getting consent (again) prior to first annual auto-renewal are too onerous for businesses, while the notice requirements are too unworkable for modern websites, particularly mobile websites where paragraphs of terms and conditions will seriously interfere with the consumer experience
  • A lot of this boils down to simple laziness and neglect by consumers, who can’t be bothered to read terms and conditions, can’t be bothered to remember what they’ve signed up for, and can’t be bothered to read notices
  • For the dating services, at some point people need to be adults and exercise some due diligence before buying a product. If a business wants to offer a money back guarantee then fine, good for them standing behind their service. But no business should be forced to, even for a short period of time

In Further Detail: The first thing to understand is that it would be highly inefficient for an Internet business to create an entirely separate auto-renew process for new customers, so while it’s a nice thought to only apply the super restrictive process elements to new customers, in reality most businesses are going to have one process that everyone uses. Given that, some of these requirements are pretty incompatible with basic modern website operation and design. No website, for instance, is going to put a multi-paragraph description of the terms and conditions of its auto-renewal program in big type right next to the place where people sign-up. Imagine this on a mobile device, it would be unworkable. Perhaps they could pop a window up if someone indicated interest in auto-renewal. Second, the requirement to prove use of the product prior to sending out the first auto-renewal is a complicated programming ask—and the requirement to get assent again before auto-renewal is a step way too far. That is the point of the notice of a new charge—if the consumer decides they don’t want this anymore then they are free to cancel. In all, what we are doing here is forcing businesses to deal with customer laziness and inattention. Can’t be bothered to read terms and conditions. Can’t be bothered to remember what subscriptions you signed up for. And even if we grant the requirement to send a notice before charging someone’s card (a nice customer service thing to do), can’t be bothered to actually read the notice. For the social services section, again we are dealing with consumers needing to be adults. Like with many products or services, there is some buyer beware and due diligence required before buying it. A good business that is confident in itself may offer a money back guarantee but it should not be forced. Note that if there is actual fraud or false advertising than a consumer is already free to pursue legal action against the company.


Bottom Line:

  • The language in the dating section is clearly copied from laws that existed before online dating apps and so it is very difficult to square its requirements, including signed contracts and font size, with the digital world. Clearer provisions that deal with online businesses would be welcome The bill no longer has protections from people getting hit by that first payment in a free trial that converts a subscription. Like the Arguments For used to say, it is an insidious practice that relies on people not noticing for a billing cycle or two before turning it off. Any free trial should require affirmative assent before charging anyone anything

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1239

HB21-1241 Employee-owned Business Loan Program Modifications (Rodriguez (D), Priola (R)) [Daugherty (D), Lynch (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Change the eligibility rules for the existing loan program to help businesses transition to being employee-owned by removing current requirements that the business be at least two years old, have at least 3 employees, offer ownership to every employee, and plan to or have entered into an employee-ownership agreement with at least half of its employees. Instead the bill gives all eligibility criteria to the office of economic development, which houses the program, with the ability to add a requirement on how many employees must be offered option to participate. Bill also removes the current $5 million maximum annual revenue requirement and lets the office set a requirement, not to exceed $50 million a year.
  • Bill also removes current requirements on loan size, which are that they cannot be greater than 50% of the cost of transition and cannot exceed $10,000. Office is allowed to set whatever terms it decides. The bill also extends the program through 2025

Description:

This program was created in 2017 and is designed to provide loans to businesses looking to transition to being owned by employees for technical assistance or for transition purposes. Loans may not be used to pay off debt, for general operating expenses, or capital expenditures. This bill adds the ability to use loan money towards the purchase of the business by the employees.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: July 2025

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This program has money but no businesses to spend it on, because current requirements are too strict, so the bill loosens those requirements. As this was in essence a pilot program, it was scheduled to repeal next year. Obviously we need more time to really evaluate it once it can actually loan money
  • The concept behind this is that transitioning to employee ownership is not just like turning a key. It is an often complicated process that can take months or even more than a year and may require technical assistance and legal help and can easily costs tens of thousands of dollars. The benefits to employees as owners is obvious from their standpoint, as they stand to profit along with the company. For businesses, this is a way for a family-owned operation with no succession plan to avoid selling to a big company and most research shows employee-owned businesses have higher employee satisfaction, productivity, and stability

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1241

HB21-1244 Restrictions On Collection And Use Of Biometric Info (Rodriguez (D)) [A. Valdez (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Requires any business to get permission before collecting, storing, or using any biometric identifiers of consumers; inform the consumer what is being collected, how it will be stored, and how it will be used; and notify the consumer they can revoke consent at any time. If consent is revoked, business has 30 days to comply, which includes deleting or destroying any biometric identifiers they have. Information captured in a health care setting for medical purposes is exempt (see Description)
  • Bans government entities from collecting, possessing or using any biometric identifiers or biometric surveillance systems unless it is authorized in state law. Sets out standards state laws must adhere to (see Description). Fingerprints for identification purposes are exempt
  • Bans sale, disclosure, or release of biometric identifiers by the government unless it is required by law or court order or the individual in question consents in writing. Government also cannot acquire biometric identifiers from a third-party without a court order

Description:

For businesses, the consent of a parent or guardian is required for any known minor’s biometric identifying data.

Any information obtained in violation of this bill is not admissible in court.

Violating the business side of this law is a deceptive trade practice and opens up the business to civil liability under that law. On the government side, civil action may be brought and in addition to actual damages, victorious plaintiffs can win punitive damages for willful or wanton conduct, reasonable attorney fees and court costs, and injunctive relief.

Local governments may enact provisions more strict than this bill (but not less strict).

Bill requires any law that allows for collection of biometric data to specify the government entities allowed to collect it, the purposes of collection and use, and prohibited uses; standards for the acquisition, possession, use, and managed of the information; auditing requirements to ensure accuracy of surveillance technology (in the extreme case, think China’s facial recognition surveillance system), standards for minimum accuracy rates, including by gender, race, and age; standards for protections for due process, privacy, free speech, and racial, gender, and religious equity; and mechanisms to ensure compliance.

Biometric identifying data is defined as including: retina or iris scan, voice print, face print, fingerprint or palm print, and any other unique identifying information based on the characteristics of an individual’s gait or other immutable characteristics. It explicitly does not include writing samples, signatures, photographs, biological samples used for scientific testing or screening, demographic data, tattoo descriptions, or physical descriptions like height, hair color, or eye color.

The health care exemption includes anything covered by HIPAA as well as x-rays, roentgen process, computed tomography, MRI, PET scan, mammography, or other image or film used to diagnose or treat an illness or for scientific testing or screening.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The future is here, right now, in particular with facial recognition software which is being used to extraordinarily totalitarian ends in China. We have smaller controversies over its use here, but big tech companies like Amazon, Google, and IBM have all had to back-off selling these technologies to law enforcement recently
  • It is virtually impossible to avoid having your face recorded, repeatedly, when out in public
  • Law enforcement departments are itching to use this, and some already are, so we need to step in now and put some major guardrails in for all biometric technology
  • For businesses, it's pretty simple: transparency and consent are required
  • For government, it's a little more complicated but first, only collect data that is required. Second, ensure collection only occurs with legal authority and third, ensure that authority is clear and open with strict standards

In Further Detail: Facial recognition software is the big known one in this space and its use has become more and more widespread in recent years before huge controversies last year forced big tech companies like Amazon, Google, and IBM to back-off selling these technologies to law enforcement. But make no mistake, the future is here, right now. All you have to do is look at China, where facial recognition software is being used to execute a totalitarian’s dream of near total control over the population. The technology beyond the popular film Minority Report, where eye scanners track your every movement, is not far away. And given the ubiquitousness of recording technology, it is nearly impossible for a citizen to avoid having their photo captured, repeatedly. We have a law that requires all law enforcement to wear and use body cameras when on duty. The Orlando police department already thought that real-time use of facial recognition technology sounded wonderful and have only marginally backed off. So we need some major guardrails in this area, and not just for facial recognition. Many of use fingerprint unlock technology on our phones and voice recognition is another area where a lot of us have biometric identifying data out in the world. On the business side, this is pretty basic: consent and transparency. That’s all, just tell us what you are doing and require that we give the OK. Many of the scenarios that businesses spin out for the wonders of facial recognition (secure access to ATMs, seamless movement through large events) can still easily be done with consent. For the government, this is a bit more complicated but in essence, we are putting in guards against abuses. First, only collect data as allowed by law or court order (so like a court order to get a DNA sample for investigative or paternal purposes). Second, ensure that any laws around biometric data are robust to avoid the very issues we saw come to the forefront last year. Clear and open and strict standards about collection and use of data and standards for the accuracy of any of it, because we have seen that some of these systems have troubling error rates, particularly when it comes to minorities. Right now what he have in government is a black box. Note that the bill does not ban the use of any of these technologies. It just requires them to be used the right way.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This could damage public safety and law enforcement—security cameras capture criminals committing a crime, is law enforcement able to use all of the tools at their disposal without getting a court order for each one? Same goes for physical evidence, DNA, hair, etc. Although we don’t know who the person is, we are collecting their biometric data and storing it. Identifying people in crowds after mass crimes, like the insurrection attempt at the Capitol would be another gray area
  • What about proactive attempts at public safety, like using the no-fly list in conjunction with video at an airport?
  • On the business-side, right now Facebook’s facial recognition software allows the blind to frequently know who is actually in the pictures on their feed, without tagging. Requiring written consent would likely ruin that ability

In Further Detail: There are some areas around public safety that the bill could damage. Many smart doorbells have the ability to use facial recognition technology, as do home and commercial security systems. But those are sold by businesses—so anyone captured by those devices would not be giving consent. Shouldn’t we able to use technology to try to catch criminals recorded on these devices? The investigatory area is also very gray here: what does it mean to capture someone’s unique biometric data when you don’t yet know who they are? Hair samples, DNA evidence, etc. Obviously no consent and no court order should be required. Would the bill allow such collection without writing an entirely new, and massive law, to handle it? It’s someone’s biometric identifying data and there is no state law that specifically allows such activity. What about using video to try to identify people in a crowd where violence took place, like say, the January insurrection attempt at the Capitol? What about using the no-fly list in combination with video at the airport? The line between regular investigative work using modern technology and big brother, China-like totalitarianism isn’t as cut and dry as the bill makes it out to be. On the business side, requiring explicit written consent rules out some of the positive aspects of things like facial recognition, like opening up new worlds for the blind, who can actually be told what people are in pictures.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1244

HB21-1263 Meeting And Events Incentive Program (Rodriguez (D), Hisey (R)) [Roberts (D), Soper (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Significant

*State stimulus bill, 1% of total stimulus money spent in this bill*

Appropriation: $10 million
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Spend $10 million on rebates for part of the costs of holding events of at least 25 people where overnight stays are involved across the entire state between July 2021 and December 2022 and July 2021 and December 2021 for events and meetings and personal events like weddings and family reunions. Can also spend money on direct support for attracting eligible events that affect multiple counties but cannot spend more than 5% 7% of the program money on this.

Description:

Creates a meeting and events incentive program to provide rebates to events held in the state between July 2021 and December 2022 and personal events, like weddings or family reunions, held between July and December 2021. To be eligible an event must generate at least 25 paid overnight stays and demonstrate significant economic benefit for a host community.Primary organizer or booking agent can apply. [/expand] Auto-Repeal: July 2024

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The tourism and hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Just between March and October last year the state lost $7.9 billion in visitor related spending. 45% of the jobs lost last year were in tourism and hospitality. Not all of that is related to events of course, a chunk is related to restaurants, but portions of our state that rely heavily on these types of events, particularly in the mountains, are devasted right now and need help. It is therefore appropriate to directly subsidize these events for the next year all over the state to help our local economies recover with as few strings attached or hoops to jump through as possible. Honestly, it is far more important to get this money out and into our communities than to worry about some people taking advantage of the system so any sort of means testing or rigorous worry about proof of cancellation is shortsighted. Better to risk paying for part of an event unnecessarily than risk losing an event because of too strict guidelines. We have $800 million of state stimulus money to spend thanks to better than expected tax revenues last year and this is a very appropriate way to spend some of it.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We absolutely want to encourage people to hold events here and tip the scales in our balance where necessary but we don’t want to be handing out money to people who were going to do so anyway, or even worse, are extremely wealthy (as a corporate entity or individually) and don’t need the help at all but are happy to pocket it. Some sort of proof of need should be required here in addition to simple proof of an event having enough people. 25 is a small number, so nearly every wedding will qualify and nearly any sort of corporate event as well. With that many events and just $10 million (it’ll go fast), we need to have more layers built into this to ensure money is spent wisely

Bottom Line:

  • The personal event industry was also hit hard by COVID and deserved the help this bill originally gave. All of the same caveats about better to get the money out rather than worry about people taking advantage apply here too

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1263

HB21-1282 Add Consumer Protections Regulation Mortgage Servicers (Gonzales (D)) [Weissman (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $51,783
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Require non-bank mortgage servicers working residential loans to register with the state annually, which involves paying a fee set by the state to cover its costs and submitting an annual report. State can then investigate them for abuses of federal law and the bill provides avenues for punishment as well as civil litigation for all such violations.

Description:

Requires non-bank mortgage servicers working residential loans to register with the state annually, which involves paying a fee set by the state to cover its costs and submitting an annual report. Servicers must also maintain all records for at least four years after its last interaction with the borrower (whether the loan was repaid in full or sold or assigned to another company). All servicers must abide by all federal laws relating to mortgages.

State has the power to investigate servicers, which includes examining records (which must be made available within 30 days of a request), issuing subpoenas for testimony under oath, retaining professionals and specialists like attorneys and accountants, entering into agreements with other government agencies to share resources, use or contract to use analytical software systems, accept or rely on government reports (either from in or out-of-state), and accept audits made by independent certified accountants.

State can also seize records but must grant access to them by the servicer for ordinary business affairs unless the state has reasonable grounds to believe the records are in danger of being destroyed or altered. Servicers may not impede an investigation.

State may issue cease and desist orders to servicers, require refunds to injured individuals, and issue civil penalties of up to $500 per violation as allowed by federal law for these cases (right now is maximum of $5,000 per day for tier 1 offenses, which this would fall under). These orders are subject to appeal by the servicer in state court.

State can also bring civil actions in court, including seeking an injunction against a servicer, for violations of this bill as a deceptive trade act. If found guilty servicers can be liable for actual damages, monetary awards of up to three times servicer collected in violation of the law, reasonable attorney fees and court costs, and punitive damages from the court. Statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit is four years after act or after it should have been reasonably discovered. This can be extended by one year if it is found that the servicer engaged in activity specifically designed to run out the clock to four years. State must take into account any potential penalties already assessed by federal consumer protection financial bureau to avoid duplication.

State is keep all information it gains from records confidential and keep investigations confidential until it initiates enforcement. State must report every year to the legislature on complaints data, enforcement actions, and use of fees.

Servicers that have fewer than 5,000 residential loans in a single year are exempt, as are any financial institutions (which have their own regulations), originators already regulated by the division of real estate, collection agencies, federal and state agencies, supervised lenders that do not service residential homes, non-profits, government agencies, and other businesses that are not in the mortgage business but that promote affordable housing or financing, any organization that uses and does not direct a sub-contractor to service its loans, and anyone who only holds loans for less than a year before selling them.

If a servicer is approved by the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Association, or Government National Mortgage Association or meets prudential standards set by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors its financial responsibilty requirements are assumed to be met.

Additional Information:

Residential homes are defined as single family or multi-family dwellings of four or fewer units. Servicing is defined as receiving scheduled periodic payments for a loan and making the payments to the owner of the loan and other related third parties (such as escrow payments). This includes reverse mortgages.

Servicers have 30 days to register after commencing operations in the state and then must do so annually by the end of January.

State can grant additional time over 30 days to produce records at its discretion.

State can also use records that do not belong to the servicer or the borrower in its investigation, including credit reports; criminal, civil, and administrative records; personal history; and any other relevant records.

State can accept written assurance from a servicer that it will not engage in whatever activity it did to violate this bill in the future. No bond or other security relief is required for temporary restraining orders or injunctions which the state can request prior to final determination in a case.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This closes a loophole in our regulatory scheme, all those other players who are exempt from this bill are already regulated in a similar (or more restrictive) manner
  • The non-bank industry is starting to dominate mortgages, with up to 2/3 of the loans issued in 2019 and 48% of the servicing coming from these companies
  • Mortgage servicing is notoriously ripe with abuse so we need the ability to oversee these companies and ensure they are following the law. That’s all we are asking here

In Further Detail: This closes what amounts to a loophole we have in our regulatory system when it comes to residential mortgages. That long list of exemptions (except for the small business one) covers entities that are already regulated in a similar or more restrictive manner. And we do need this help because this is a growing part of the overall mortgage servicing industry. These companies comprised 6% of the market in 2011 and have exploded to 48% in 2019. Non-bank lending has also exploded (the bill is not about lending, but many non-banks service their own loans) to reach 2/3 of the entire housing market by 2019. The mortgage service industry’s practices are notorious enough that the term “predatory mortgage servicing” is widely accepted by a host of federal agencies (this of course applies to the industry in general, so it includes banks and other regulated entities). These can include misapplying payments or inaccurate accounting (so simple sloppiness), charging unreasonable fees not authorized by law or the mortgage contract, improperly buying homeowner’s insurance policy for the property and making the borrower pay for it, failing to make escrow payments for insurance or taxes, or engaging in what is called “dual tracking” a loan. This means foreclosing on the property while simultaneously working with the borrower on a loan modification or some other mitigation strategy. Dual tracking is already forbidden by state law. And in particular, a 2016 report by the federal consumer protection financial bureau find that servicers were routinely violating requirements around loan modifications and servicing transfers to other companies. Remember: all we are doing here is asking these servicing companies to register with the state, pay a small fee, and follow the law. That’s it, nothing beyond that. No one should have a problem with that

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This is really a federal issue and we need better guidance from the federal government before proceeding with attempts at regulation on our own, even if they are more minimal in nature like simple registration. Most of the companies we are working with here are multi-state (or even multi-national) and so without strong federal backing, this may not go the way we intend

Bottom Line:

  • We actually need to go further here, there is growing concern over the liquidity of these servicers: in essence people are worried that housing shock akin to the crisis in 2007 would cause a repeat of the meltdown on 2008, this time in non-banks. That is because these servicers tend to cover riskier mortgages (where there is more money to made in fees and higher interest payments) and do so in a fundamentally different way than banks. Banks use assets, and the thing we discovered post-2008 is that we weren’t requiring enough assets to back bank mortgages. So when the market melted down, there wasn’t money to cover the losses and companies went under, dragging others with them. Now we’ve changed those requirements (which is part of why this market has shifted to non-banks). But non-banks use credit instead of assets—which is even more dependent on the state of the economy—and are propped up by one source of income. Another huge housing crisis would deprive these non-banks of their income while their credit lines simultaneously vanish. Some places only have a few months of cash to survive such a situation so what would happen in a 2007 repeat is pretty clear: a repeat of 2008 except this time the non-banks would meltdown, potentially dragging others with them. Obviously a lot of the problem here is federal, but we can do some things to lower risks here in Colorado by adding some liquidity requirements to this registration program

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1282

HB21-1283 Vehicle Towing Consumer Protection (Fields (D)) [Ricks (D), Hooton (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $20,029
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Add more members to the towing task force advisory committee and move up sunset review of the committee and the public utilities commission regulation of the industry from 2024 to 2023 2025 with special emphasis asked from the review on non-consensual towing fees and practices.

Description:

Requires the existing towing task force advisory committee to examine fees charged and complaints arising from non-consensual towing and report to the legislature annually. Requires task force to meet twice annually.

Adds two five members to the towing task force advisory committee, increasing its size from 9 to 11 14. Two new members must represent communities that might be disproportionately impacted by nonconsensual towing, such as communities of color, immigrant communities, elderly communities, and rural communities. Another new member must represent non-consensual towing carriers. Another new member must be appointed by attorney general and have experience enforcing state consumer protection act. Another new member must represent people with disabilities. Replaces member of board representing towing carriers that is not a representative of a towing association with a member representing mobile home owners. Replaces towing association representative with representative of a towing association with experience in consensual towing. Replaces member who represents association of motor carriers with member who represents common interest community unit owners.

Moves sunset review of the towing task force advisory committee and review of the public utilities commission’s regulation of towing carriers up back from 2024 to 2023 2025. The bill specifically tasks the review report with examining performance of the commission in relation to complaints filed about towing services, if dispute resolution would work and if it is used in other states, reasonable rates of recovery and towing and storage fees for nonconsensual towing, and reasonableness of towing contracts towing companies enter into with property owners with regard to impact on tenants and visitors particularly in mobile home park communities and common interest communities.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2023 for both regulation of companies and advisory committee

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Towing can easily cost hundreds of dollars, which can make a huge difference to low-income Coloradans. Towing companies in the state are not currently required to display their rates and complaints of towing are on the rise. No one should have to decide between paying for food and paying to retrieve their vehicle and some of the rules in private contracts can be a bit extreme and inconsistent (like no public parking in a mobile home park on streets). The bill makes the towing task force more consumer friendly (right now it is stacked toward the towing industry), moves up sunset review of the task force and public utilities commission oversight (these reports are extremely thorough and can spark needed changes), and hopefully revive this entire project. As for the idea of the public utilities commission being forced to accept the proposed changes, this is a volunteer task force with no staff and no rulemaking process. The utilities commission must still be allowed to do its job. Moving the sunset review process back is required to really understand if the changes made to the task force are working and it isn't really the job of the sunset review reports to examine things like fairness of towing practices. They are concerned with efficacy and neccessity of government only

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The public utilities commission still doesn’t have to accept the recommendations of the task force which makes it basically toothless. This task force already delivered comprehensive reform regulations that the commission basically ignored

Bottom Line:

  • You have to remember what we are talking about here with “non-consensual” towing: this is when someone parks against the rules, either in a private lot or a no parking zone or in violation of community rules. Don’t break the rules, don’t have to worry about the consequences

HB21-1285 Funding To Support Creative Arts Industries (Jaquez Lewis (D), Buckner (D)) [Benavidez (D), Herod (D)]

*State stimulus bill, 1% of total stimulus funds spent in this bill*

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: $10 million
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Spend $5 million on the state’s office of film, television, and media to try to woo more filming to Colorado, $3.5 million on an existing arts relief fund for organizations impacted by the pandemic (and remove a restriction that made anyone receiving money from this fund ineligible for the state’s small business relief fund) and $1.5 million on an existing fund that awards grants to cultural facilities that focus on historically marginalized and under-resourced communities.

 

Description:

Appropriates $5 million to the state’s office of film, television, and media which works to bring productions to Colorado to film in the state, $3.5 million to the arts relief fund the legislature created last year which provides grants to individuals and organizations in the arts impacted by the pandemic, and $1.5 million to the same fund to be put toward the existing Community Arts, Culture, Transformation, and Science fund, which awards capacity building grants to cultural facilities that focus on historically marginalized and under-resourced communities and at least 51% of the board of the facility consists of individuals from historically marginalized and under-resourced communities. State uses a non-profit organization to administers the program, which is part of the metro Denver area’s scientific and cultural tax district. Non-profit must report to the state on how the money was used.

The bill also removes the requirement that any organization that receives assistance from the state’s arts relief fund is ineligible for relief payments from the state’s small business relief program. It also requires the state to transfer any money left over in the small business relief fund as of July 2021 to the creative arts fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The arts were one of the hardest hit industries by the pandemic and many are still struggling. This is a massive industry in Colorado, generating over $31.6 billion and employing over 190,000 people (pre-pandemic). We are talking about pure survival for this critical industry
  • The state’s film industry has been in decline for several years and the film office is our primary weapon to reverse this trend. We just saw recent proof of the positive impact it can have: thanks to its efforts a new TV show is going to film here and bring $7.8 million in spending and create nearly 200 jobs
  • Our most marginalized communities were already on a knife’s edge before the pandemic and these are smaller organizations that cannot require on a sturdy donor base. They desperately need our help

In Further Detail: One of the hardest hit industries by the pandemic was the arts, many of which remain closed due to the risks of COVID or have had to operate at severely reduced capacity. This industry contributes over $31.6 billion dollars to the state economy and employs over 190,000 people (pre-pandemic). By just last October the industry had lost more than $1.4 billion. This is about pure survival for a critical state industry that also touches the core of what us human. We have singled out other industries that were similarly hard hit for relief, like the restaurant industry and the hospitality industry. For the film office, 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. A new TV show just announced it would film in state, in part thanks to rebates given out by this office, which is estimated to bring $7.8 million in spending in Colorado, including nearly 200 jobs. We need to encourage more of this in our beautiful state. Finally, for capacity building, this is again a case of our most marginalized communities already being on a knife’s edge before the pandemic struck, and these are smaller organizations that cannot rely on sturdy donor bases like the Denver Zoo or Nature and Science Museum. These communities frankly need the extra help to lift up this industry.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We have an existing small business relief fund that can be used by these organizations if we pass this bill and just remove the ineligibility provision. So we shouldn’t shovel more money specifically in this direction (we’ve spent $7.5 million already)
  • We are in a sour spot when it comes to our film office, we don’t spend enough to compete with the true big boys like New Mexico (yes), Georgia, or California and yet we are spending money on a program that many aren’t sure is even worth it
  • The capacity building program, as it already exists, only serves the Denver metro area. This is completely unfair to the rest of the state and if we are going to give it more money in this manner, we need to open it up

In Further Detail: We should not pretend that these arts facilities do not have other relief options, including federal relief. And indeed we could pass this bill just removing the ineligibility for the small business relief program and they’d be eligible for that as well, so we shouldn’t shovel more money to this one industry (we’ve spent $7.5 million already). On top of that, we absolutely should not shutter the small business relief program in July and divert all the remaining money to the arts. We are still in the recovery stage and most other relief programs in the state have been extended. Other small businesses are hurting too. For the film office, we are spending money on this, millions a year, but at the same time just aren’t in the same league as other states who are REALLY spending money on this. 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. For what can happen down the road even when you land a series, look at what the TV series Yellowstone just announced. They’ve hit their rebate caps in Utah, where they film the majority of the series (outdoor scenes are set in Montana) so they’re pulling all of the filming to Montana after three seasons in Utah. Let’s get out of this rat race entirely. On the capacity building organization, this is housed in the Denver metro science and cultural taxing district so it only serves the Denver metro area. If we are going to put more money toward cultural capacity building (which may not be the best use of stimulus money right now), we should absolutely not be limited to just this part of the state. It is completely unfair to the rest of Colorado.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1285

HB21-1288 Colorado Startup Loan Program (Coleman (D)) [Bacon (D), Duran (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

*State stimulus bill, 4% of overall stimulus funds spent in this bill*

Appropriation: $41.4 million of which $10 million is federal funds
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Create a loan program to help businesses start, restart, or restructure with an emphasis on addressing pandemic impacts, including new businesses looking to fill a void left by businesses that closed due to the pandemic. The program is also to emphasize businesses that face barriers to accessing capital from traditional sources. $31.4 $41.4 million appropriated to the program, of which $10 million is federal stimulus money, which is supposed to be structured to generate enough return to replenish itself for future loans.

Description:

Creates the Colorado Startup Loan Program to provide loans and grants to eligible businesses seeking capital assistance to start or restart a business or to restructure an existing business. Appropriates $31.4 $41.4 million to the program, of which $10 million is federal stimulus money, with $1.4 million reserved for businesses in the small business accelerated growth program. State may must contract with a third-party non-profit, bank, community development financial institution, or business development corporation to administer the program and it is forbidden from having direct lending authority. This must be done through a competitive bidding process. The program must be structured so as to generate enough return to replenish itself for future loans. At least half the money must be spent by July 2022.

State or administrator must set policies and procedures for the program. For eligibility and size and terms of loans and grants, this must include: need of a business to restructure or redefine itself due to the pandemic, ability of a new business to fill gaps left in a community or industry due to pandemic related business closures, financial losses or other pandemic-related impacts that may inhibit a business from obtaining capital through traditional sources, if the applicant or its community faces barriers to access capital from traditional sources or is otherwise underserved, the applicant’s need and repayment ability, and any technical assistance the applicant is receiving to validate its business plans. To the extent possible applicants who have completed a business development program already offered by the state may be prioritized. If it is determined the business could work with a traditional lender and receive more favorable loan terms, the state is to refer them to one.

The state must work with the already existing minority business office, small business development centers, community development financial institutions, and stakeholder partners to promote the program to businesses owned by women, veterans, and minorities and businesses located in rural counties and other communities that are undeserved or disadvantaged. This must include a marketing intitiative that includes the top spoken languages in the target communities.

State or administrator is also to create reporting requirements, underwriting and risk policies, and program fees.

The third-party administrator, if there is one, can include an administration fee calculated to reasonably cover its expenses to oversee the program. If the state finds the administrator has not successfully performed its duties, at the end of the contract the state can claw back all of its money, including interest payments made on loans. State may use up to 2% of the money to cover its own adminstrative costs.

State can accept gifts, grants, and donations for the program and may use any federal programs that it is eligible for to increase the money in the program’s fund.

State must report to the legislature each year on the program, including number of businesses that applied with a breakdown by demographics, percentage of applicants funded and the average rate of funding broken down demographically, geographic distribution of applicants and funded applicants, and information on the type and size of businesses that applied for and received funding.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Even before the pandemic many businesses lacked access to capital and the pandemic of course made that worse, along with forcing closure of businesses throughout the state and leaving others needing to pivot to stay alive
  • All of this means we have a huge capital funding need in the state: for businesses to try to restart, restructure, or for new businesses to try to fill the void left by closures
  • A loan program like this can help those businesses and therefore help the state recover faster while simultaneously creating long-term stability and because the program replenishes itself, this can continue forever

In Further Detail: A problem that existed before the pandemic was lack of access to capital for some entrepreneurs, particularly those from traditionally underserved communities. Like everything else, COVID has made this situation worse. COVID of course also forced the closure of many businesses in the state and has left others desperately needed to refocus themselves to stay alive. Other businesses have taken hits to their creditworthiness. All of this means we have a huge need out there for capital funding for businesses to restart or to restructure. It also means there are opportunities for new businesses to fill the void left by closed businesses. Creating loan program like this can help the state recover from the economic destruction the pandemic wrought while simultaneously creating long-term stability through new and revitalized local businesses which bring in local jobs. Best of all, because the program is designed to replenish itself, it can keep providing loan support for state businesses forever, ensuring that traditionally underserved communities will always have access to capital. Everybody wins and the state benefits. It is a perfect use of our state stimulus money.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This will in effect set-up a state sponsored bank with no set rules around its lending practices other than a mandate to not lose its seed money. It may be small in scale compared to private sector lending but it surely will not be competing on an even playing field which may disadvantage existing lenders in the state who have to earn money, not simply not lose it

Bottom Line:

  • With this much money at stake, the structure of this is too vague. How exactly is poor performance defined for the administrator of the program? Do we want this program to actually grow its seed investment or should policies be adjusted to lower interest rates if this is occurring so as to stay at that $31.4 million level? How much risk exactly can we tolerate, which could mean devoting a section of the fund to lower-risk loans? The program mentions grants in passing but then not at all in terms of implementation, so how exactly are we to determine who gets a grant and who has to take out a loan? The last thing we want is to lose most of the money because we didn’t answer these questions up-front

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1288

HB21-1293 Banks Modify Threshold Credentialed Appraiser (Woodward (R), Bridges (D)) [Snyder (D), Larson (R)]

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Align state rules on when banks must use a certified or licensed appraiser for properties included in its financial statements with federal requirements instead of having our own state-specific requirement like we do right now.

Description:

Currently banks must use a certified or licensed appraiser when including property on its financial books unless the property is initially valued at $250,000 or less. The bill removes the specific value and replaces it with a requirement to be consistent with federal requirements and allows the state banking board to set the amount. The current federal law is $400,000.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This gives banks a little more flexibility as the current federal requirement is $400,000 or less and also just ties us to the national standard rather than worrying about creating our own. If the federal standard changes, then ours will too. The concerns about the federal government picking the wrong number or being too lax and leading to problems overstate Colorado’s role in our national economy. Colorado on its own wasn’t going to prevent the 2008 financial crisis if our rules were stricter than the federal government and us having a $250,000 rule vs. a federal rule of $400,000 isn’t going to make a material difference in the larger financial world either

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • There are good reasons to not tie ourselves to Washington. First, changes at the federal level are extremely hard due to extreme partisanship and the filibuster in the Senate, so if there is something wrong with the $400,000 figure (or some future number) it may prove hard to change. Second, we have evidence from just 15 years ago of the federal government turning a blind eye to severe problems in this very industry, banks and housing values, that led to a worldwide financial meltdown. We can trust that we are able to pick the correct number and change it if need be

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1293

HB21-1296 Limited Gaming Codify Executive Orders (Hisey (R), Pettersen (D)) [Bird (D), Baisley (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Codify into law three provisions that were part of an executive order from the governor last year. These repeals maximum number of players allowed in game of blackjack (currently 7) and requirements that casinos have only two non-contiguous game areas. Also allow for limited gaming license applicants to submit fingerprints (for background check) as a supplement to, rather than with, their application.

Description:

Repeals maximum number of players allowed in game of blackjack (currently 7) and requirements that casinos have only two non-contiguous game areas. Also allow for limited gaming license applicants to submit fingerprints (for background check) as a supplement to, rather than with, their application. All three of these changes were part of executive orders made by the governor during the pandemic.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The non-contiguous area part is pretty obvious (allow for more space and social distancing). The blackjack change was to allow for more players to play electronically (again promoting social distancing) via “stadium” games where 50 players can play the same game on 50 different terminals throughout the casino. And frankly, the voters have spoken, just last year, about expanding gambling in our casino cities. Having 8 or even 50 players in one game of blackjack isn’t going to change much fundamentally about our casinos, certainly less than was just approved by the voters last fall

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • These changes are part of a creep toward greater and greater gambling in our state that it is not too late to reverse. Let’s be clear that at this point these have nothing to do with the pandemic, which is winding down in the state (and anyway, the changes aren’t tied to the state of emergency), and so social distancing doesn’t matter. This is about allowing more gambling in more places in our casinos. Yes, the voters of the state just approved gambling expansion, but that does not mean we have to help out with bills like this one

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1296

HB21-1302 Continue COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program (Winter (D)) [Herod (D), Daugherty (D)]

*State stimulus bill, 2% of all stimulus funds spent in this bill*

PASSED

Appropriation: $15 million
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Continue the s the small business grant program the legislature created last year to distribute federal CARES act money, but uncouple the fund from the CARES act (all of that money is gone). Appropriates $15 million to the program, adds requirements for businesses to either accept maximum of $5,000 if they self-certify their losses or $15,000 total (considering previous grants from the fund as well) if they provide financial documentation. Also adds some prioritization for businesses that missed out on federal funds, sole proprietorships, or those in economically distressed areas. Adds some more prioritization beyond that for future funds and removes industry specific holds on money in the fund.

Description:

Continue the small business grant program the legislature created last year to distribute federal CARES act money, but uncouple the fund from the CARES act (all of that money is gone). Appropriates $15 million to the program and makes some changes to it.

First, by removing all CARES act language businesses no longer have to qualify under CARES act standards. The bill adds requirements for businesses to demonstrate their financial losses related to COVID by either self-certifying (basically promising it is the case), in which case they can only get a maximum of $5,000, or providing financial documentation. Bill keeps maximum grant award at $15,000 and adds stipulation that no business can receive more than $15,000 total (so if they got a grant before, can’t add up to more than $15,000).

Also adds some additional prioritization. State is to give preference to businesses that did not qualify for or received an insufficient amount of federal paycheck protection program (PPP) funds or any other federal aid related to COVID, to sole proprietorships, or located in an economically distressed area. For any additional money put into the program, preference to businesses that must make lease or mortgage payments for their premises or where the business owner lives at the business address.

Bill gives the state more money to administer the program (1.6% instead of .6%) and requires it to do outreach to underserved communities, and increases the allowance for the grantor from 3 to 4%, plus up to $25 per grant. Removes previous language that reserved money for certain industries in the state, and extends reporting requirements.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2024

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • These sorts of grants to struggling businesses have been one of our best lifelines to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic but many are still really struggling. We haven’t fully reopened yet and even when we do, many people will still be extremely cautious to begin with. So there is still need for this program, and it is a great way to spend some of our state stimulus money. But of course the original program was built to be a vessel for federal CARES act money. Since it is now to be a state program it needs more robust rules to account for eligibility (instead of relying on federal rules) and prioritization. On the other hand, it is time to lift the industry specific reservation of funds, as we’ve actually got specific programs for most of these industries also in operation. This fund needs to be a general grant fund

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • $5,000 seems like a nice pile of money to grab for self-certifying—a cornerstone of the federal grant programs was that you had to eventually prove your finances. We’ll accept self-certification to begin with but to get the loan forgiven hard documentation was needed. We should be extending that same principle here, otherwise any business can just try to grab $5,000. There seems to be no worry about being caught later and even if you are caught later, you don’t have to give the money back and there appears to be no penalty. We can still get money out fast while requiring some basic financial statements to back things up later. Any business that cannot meet that basic requirement needs a lot more than $15,000 to be successful in the long-term. We are also risking mixing priorities by at any point tying home ownership supports into what is supposed to be a business program. Where the business owner lives should be irrelevant

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1302

SB21-001 Modify COVID-19 Relief Programs For Small Business (Winter (D), Priola (R)) [Herod (D), Sandridge (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Widen an already existing grant and loan program for businesses owned by minorities and affected by COVID-19 to include really small businesses, businesses owned by people with low or moderate income or wealth or who struggle to access credit or funds, or that are in a distressed economic area.

Description:

This is $4 million of federal CARES act money that was appropriated last year for COVID-19 relief and consists of grants and loans. The small businesses that can now qualify are called “microbusinesses” and must have 5 or fewer employees. Income thresholds are to be based on federal standards, while net worth is left more open for the state to determine. Economically distressed areas are either a state opportunity zone, an enterprise zone, or a historically underutilized business zone.

Allow those who own “microbusinesses” (5 or fewer employees), a business or business owner located in an economically distressed area, a business owner with low or moderate income or low or moderate personal wealth or diminished opportunity to access credit or funds, to qualify for state aid that was already available to businesses owned by minorities.

Additional Information:

The original bill allows the state to determine all of the documentation requirements for the program and all parameters for eligibility in terms of size of relief, if it is to be a grant or a loan, and repayment terms for loans. State must report by November 2021 and November 2022 on how funds were dispersed.

Auto-Repeal: January 1, 2023

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a good expansion of a program that is designed to reach businesses who either struggle to get access to federal relief programs or are on the knife-edge of failure or both. The bill last year was just too narrowly targeted.

In Further Detail: This was a good idea last year that was just too narrowly targeted. Businesses owned by people of color have been more impacted by the pandemic than white-owned businesses, with studies estimating a 24% gap in revenue decline between businesses owned by Blacks and whites, 15% between Hispanic-owned businesses and those owned by whites, and 9% for Asian-owned businesses and those owned by whites. So yes, everyone is hurting, but minority-owned businesses are hurting more. We also have enough distance to understand from multiple studies that access to the Paycheck Protection Program was harder for minority owned businesses. But as this current bill recognizes, minority owned businesses may be harder hit and be having a harder time accessing federal funds, but that should not exclude our understanding of other businesses that are also struggling with the same thing. Each category that has been added here also either historically struggles to access capital (which makes it hard to get federal relief funds like PPP) or is on the knife-edge of failure or both. We already know that providing just one bucket of money and a free-for-all to access it (like PPP) doesn’t work in reaching enough of these businesses.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We should not have separate pots of money for certain businesses that others cannot access. The state can determine need, let everyone apply to one program.

In Further Detail: We should not be carving out money for particular businesses of any type. Businesses that employ more people or that happen to be in better economic areas or owned by white people may be struggling just as much as the businesses allowed to access this bill’s program. While there are other programs that they can take advantage of, so can the businesses identified by this program. We should just have one program, one bucket of money, that everyone can access. The state can determine true need to make sure we aren’t giving money to businesses that don’t need it. But a job is a job, and a business is a business, no matter where it comes from.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-001

SB21-035 Restrictions On Third-party Food Delivery Services (Rodriguez (D)) [Bird (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Significant

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Restrict third-party food delivery services from offering or arranging for sales and/or delivery from food establishments without permission and reduce the compensation rate paid to drivers or withhold tips from food establishments, staff, or drivers.

Description:

Food establishments can bring civil actions to enforce this bill, penalties are not to exceed $1,000 per violation and injunctive relief. Winning party in the action is also entitled to collect reasonable attorney fees from the loser.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We’ve learned through hard experience that these delivery companies will withhold tips—entire website sprouted in 2019 just to determine what companies keep tips. We also know from experience that when forced to give up tips they were keeping, companies like to adjust wages downward—so that the net result is the same
  • These same companies keep adding restaurants to their apps without permission in massive numbers—resulting in messed up orders, inaccurate menus, and angry consumers who of course would blame the restaurant
  • With food delivery probably staying a big part of our lives even after the pandemic is over, we have to ensure drivers and customers are not being taken advantage of

In Further Detail: In 2019 we discovered that several of the most popular food delivery services actually withheld tips from their drivers. Customers were outraged to learn that the company made a big deal out of asking for a tip, then just pocketed it. Entire websites popped up just to keep track of which companies were doing what. And while places like DoorDash reversed course, we just learned this month that Amazon had to pay over $61 million to settle a dispute with its drivers because it snuck changes relating to tip withholding into its Amazon Flex drivers. We also know that the entire point of this is to keep money in the pockets of the company, so if we just ban tip withholding, the companies are free to simply pivot and lower wages instead. It would appear that public pressure and lawsuits have already forced all of these industries to behave on tips, so that part of the bill is not necessary. It was a stated policy goal of Grubhub to add restaurants without their permission, so as to make their own offerings look better to consumers and “convince” the restaurants how great it would be. Then if someone actually orders, the Grubhub driver has to make the order themselves, and you can guess how well that went. Then of course some restaurants don’t even offer takeout…whoops a canceled order. A report last October said that Grubhub had added 150,000 restaurants across the nation without permission. 150,000! They are currently being sued. DoorDash and Postmates have gotten in trouble for the same behavior, so it isn’t an isolated incident.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This is actually the perfect example of the free market working: people discovered this, were outraged and company policies changed
  • The language of the bill appears to forbid companies from lowering compensation at all, ever

In Further Detail: What we have witnessed over the past two years is the perfect example of the free market working. People are unearthing all of these facts about these companies and getting outraged, prompting lawsuits to rectify past harm (successful ones at that, DoorDash had to pay over $2 million for its tip withholding) and changes in policy. The adding restaurants angle is still working its way through the system, but it appears clear that the law is being applied by the courts to address clear malfeasance. Because that is the case, we don’t necessarily need new laws: DoorDash and Amazon were sued successfully under existing ones because they perpetuated fraud on consumers and drivers. Grubhub is likely to pay the piper next to restaurants. So we don’t need new laws in this space. Even worse, this law appears to simply provide a blanket ban on ever lowering compensation for drivers. The intent may be to forbid lowering compensation to balance against increases in tips, but the text just says “reduce compensation rate” without any qualifications. That is incredible over-reach into any industry—who has the right to pay its workers what is wishes so long as it is above minimum wage.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-035

SB21-040 Driver's History Profession Or Occupation Decision (Scott (R), Gonzales (D)) [Rich (R), Roberts (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Significant

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Limit ability of state regulatory agencies to use driving history to make decisions to a three year window.

Description:

Forbids state regulatory agencies from using driving history that occurred more than three years prior in issuing, renewing, reinstating, reactivating a permit, certification or registration or taking disciplinary action. , Exceptions are if the event is relevant to the ethics or performance of the profession being considered and the operation of a motor vehicle is part of that profession or the event is part of a larger pattern. Any misdemeanor or felony convictions can be also be used. The three year timeframe applies to the time that act was allegedly made, if the agency is considering disciplinary action.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This brings state agencies in-line with general insurance company practice
  • People deserve the opportunity to fully participate in our economy if past mistakes are not repeated

In Further Detail: This just brings our state regulatory agencies in line with the common practice of insurance companies, who do not look back farther than three years in general, though state laws do vary around the country. And it makes sense, we are trying to determine the current risk of the danger of allowing someone to drive, not the risk based on their conduct years ago. Remember: this is a driving record, not a criminal record. That would be a separate query. So regulatory agencies, which do sometimes need to consider driving record, should be operating under the same rules. People do make mistakes, the important thing is if those mistakes were recent and if there is a continuing pattern of them. Three years is plenty of time to establish such a pattern. If it isn’t there, then people deserve the chance to have the full opportunity to pursue a career. The bill also allows for exceptions where this past history is critical to the profession being considered.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The need to protect the public from harm is stronger than an insurance company’s need to determine risk in pricing their premiums
  • Bill makes no distinction between minor offenses and more serious ones

In Further Detail: First, state regulatory agencies are not insurance companies. Their job is not to assess risk and decide how much to charge a driver on the chance they will make an error or break the law. Regulators are there to protect the public from harm. So the entire record is very pertinent to public safety. The bill makes no distinction between minor traffic offenses, which may very well fall under the idea of a three year lookback, and much more serious driving offenses that do not rise to the level of criminality.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-040

SB21-091 Credit Transaction Charge Limitations (Liston (R), Rodriguez (D)) [Bird (D), Larson (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Up to $2.6 million at full implementation due to state using credit cards

Goal:

  • Allow businesses to impose up to a 2% surcharge on customers for using a credit or charge card.

Description:

Charge cards are cards where unpaid balances are payable on demand. Debit cards do not fall into this category.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Businesses are losing increasing amounts of money to these fees, 1.5% of all card sales in 2019
  • Colorado is one of only five states that still doesn’t allow surcharge collection
  • Everyone is still free to make their own decisions: customers can use different forms of payment or different bu
  • Businesses and businesses do not have to use the surcharge.

In Further Detail: The fees business have to pay on these cards can add up. In 2019 the US processed $7.58 trillion in card transactions and had to pay fees of over $116 billion. That’s 1.5% of all sales, out of the pockets of the businesses because of a decision to use a card rather than pay with cash or check. And these are rapidly increasing trends. Use of cash and checks is plummeting and those card fees are rising. The only current way to get around this, offering a discount to those who pay by cash or check, is  a poor substitute. It requires tricky math to determine pricing and marketing and/or discussion around the discount. All for the same end result. So many states have recognized this problem for businesses that Colorado is now only one of five states to ban sellers for surcharging people using a credit card. People are free to pay in cash if they wish to avoid it (or avoid the business completely) and businesses are free to not use a surcharge if they don’t want to.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We already have a tool for this: discounts for paying by cash or check
  • There is no notification requirement in the bill

In Further Detail: Businesses that want to try to keep these fees already have an option under Colorado law: raise their prices up to cover the fee then offer a discount for those that pay by cash or check that approximates the old price. The bill also has no notifications requirements to consumers about this surcharge or even a requirement to display it on a receipt. It’s hard for customers to avoid businesses that use a surcharge or pay with cash or check instead if they know nothing about it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-091

SB21-127 Department Of Regulatory Agencies Regulator Authority During Declared Emergency (Ginal (D)) [Mullica (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal:

  • Allow the department of regulatory agencies to create emergency rules during a declared disaster that temporarily suspend or waive specific laws or rules about a profession if adhering to those rules or laws would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action to respond to the emergency. This action must be consistent with federal and state law and be reasonably necessary to protect public health. They expire 60 days after the disaster is terminated

Description:

Any emergency rules, which can also create new requirements, must be commensurate with the nature of the disaster, and consistent with the terms and limitations in the executive order that proclaimed the disaster. Any emergency rule that suspends or waives existing policy must include a statement of why this is necessary, how the suspension or waiver fits the terms allowed by this bill, and must not affect any supervisory requirements for an unregulated person by a licensed or registered individual.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We have discovered during our response to COVID that some regulations on our professions can be a hinderance in a disaster and hamper our efforts to fight it. So we need a process by which we can loosen some regulations for the duration of the disaster rather than rely on emergency orders

In Further Detail: During COVID we have basically solely relied on emergency orders from the governor or public health agencies for all sorts of regulatory problems. This is not the best way to approach professional regulatory issues and we should instead give our regulators the power to temporarily waive or suspend rules that are hampering response. This added flexibility will enhance our response to future disasters and should help ensure better compliance. The full-blown rulemaking process is cumbersome and not designed for rapidly changing emergency situations.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We need to follow the model of emergency rule making that already exists: which includes deadlines and due process for all involved
  • This treats all of our professions the same

In Further Detail: What COVID has demonstrated is the degree to which our emergency disaster provisions are open to abuse by our officials, elected and unelected. In essence we have been in a year-long declared emergency with no ability for those whom the long string of executive orders and public health orders have affected to do anything about it. Our emergency rule process can handle rapidly changing landscapes, but critically it has a time limit: 120 days. After that the rule expires without going through the proper rulemaking process which includes the ability for the public and key stakeholders to provide their input. That should be enough time and provide enough flexibility. This bill also treats all professions the same and we have a wide variety of professions under the regulation of the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-127

SB21-132 Digital Communications Regulation (Donovan (D)) [Titone (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

AMENDED: Very Significant (category change)

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Create the Digital Communications Division in the department of regulatory agencies to regulate digital communications platforms (like Facebook and Twitter). These platforms must pay a fee each year to register with the division and promise not to engage in unfair or discriminatory digital communications practices (see Description). Anyone claiming to be aggrieved by such a practice can file a complaint with the division, which then investigates. People can sue in court once they exhaust all administrative avenues with the division Require the joint technology committee to study consumer protection concerns related to digital communications platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. May consider how these platforms deal with people who use them to: promote violence, undermine election integrity, disseminate intentional disinformation, or directly attack protected minority groups. May consider free speech concerns, how consumer complaints could be addressed by the state, and these platforms use of consumer data, including face-recognition software. Report must be submitted to rest of legislature by January 2022.
  • Creates the digital communications commission within the division, which adjudicates all cases referred by the division, sets the fee for digital communications platforms (which must be the right amount to cover the division’s costs), and does research into unfair and discriminatory digital communications practices and attempts to educate the public and provide recommendations on how to reduce them

Description:

The precise list of actions the commission is trying to reduce and the division can investigate include:

  • Unfair and discriminatory practices, such as those that promote hate speech; undermine election integrity; disseminate intentional disinformation, conspiracy theories, or fake news; or authorize, encourage, or carry out violations of users’ privacy
  • Business, political, and social practices that target users for the purposes of collecting and disseminating personal data, including sensitive data; profiling users based on collected personal data; or selling or authorizing others to use users’ personal data to provide location-based advertising or targeted advertising
  • The use of facial recognition software and other tracking technology

To qualify for this law and have to register with the state, a company must: facilitate communications between users and allow them to create and share content online; allow businesses to advertise to Colorado residents through the platform using geolocation technology; conduct business in the state with either at least 100,000 users or 25,000 users if it derives revenue from or receives a discount on the sale of personal data. Does not include marketplace facilitators like eBay or other service-oriented platforms like Uber or Lyft or short-term rental platforms like AirBnb.

Platforms that do not register commit a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $5,000 per day.

If someone initiates a complaint to the division, it must notify the company of the charge and promptly investigate. It may subpoena witnesses and compel the production of records. If the division determines probable cause exists, it will forward the complaint to the commission. If it determines there is no probable cause, it will dismiss the complaint. The person who made the complaint can appeal within 10 days. This individual has 90 days from the end of the administrative process (either after the initial decision if there is no appeal or after a failed appeal) to file a civil action.

The commission sets a hearing for cases with probable cause. The commission can retain administrative law judges or request the services of one from the governor. Hearing must be within 120 days. Parties may request extensions for good cause, not to exceed 90 days each (so maximum of 180 days if both parties ask). Commission to run the hearing as required of all administrative hearings in the state, and may issue cease and desist orders and require platforms to take actions (this is left open-ended).

The commission or members of the commission or the attorney general may also bring complaints which must then be investigated by the division. Remedies for these complaints are limited to equitable relief (no damages).

The commission is also tasked with recommending policies to the governor and the legislature and to people in the private sector and to cooperate with public and private agencies and organizations to plan and conduct educational programming. Commission members do receive per diem and can be reimbursed for expenses. It may use division staff to assist in its work.

Entire law (division and commission) expires with sunset review in September 2031.

Additional Information:

Sensitive data is personal data that reveals race or ethnic origin, religious beliefs, mental or physical health conditions, sex life or sexual orientation, citizenship or citizenship status, or genetic or biometric data.

Targeted advertising is display advertising that is selected for a consumer based on their activities across non-affiliated websites or applications. Does not include advertising in response to a request from the consumer for information.

Members of the commission and the division are immune from civil liability for actions taken in good faith in the course of their official duties.

Commission consists of: chief information officer of the office of information technology, the attorney general, and five members appointed by the governor: two representing the business community with no direct financial affiliation with a digital communications platform (one must represent a business with less than 50 employees), and three from the public who do not have a direct financial affiliation with a digital communications platform. Governor must strive to provide socioeconomic, political, and geographic diversity in the commission’s membership, ensuring that at least two of the appointees are from the western slope or eastern plains. Members serve for four year terms and can be removed by the governor for misconduct, incompetence, or neglect of duty.


Auto-Repeal: September 2022

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • These platforms are out of control and the biggest single source of divisive vitriol in our public sphere. They have proven they cannot regulate themselves and the federal government seems uninterested in helping in a meaningful way. This bill as originally written may not have been the way to address this problem but we do need to look into it. So we should have the joint technology committee do a deep dive in between legislative sessions to explore what could be done
  • So this bill instead treats these companies like other businesses in this state with the potential to cause harm: we regulate them, investigate wrongdoing, and issue punishments
  • Targeted advertising is an intrusion into our privacy and these companies can exist, sell ads, and make money without it
  • The bill is narrowly tailored to leave out just about everyone except the big platforms: websites with just comment sections don’t have to worry
  • We are talking about speech on a private business platform, so first amendment concerns do not apply

In Further Detail: We all know these platforms are out of control and the biggest single source of divisive vitriol in our public sphere. They do a poor job of regulating themselves and are a active danger to the health of our democracy. It is also clear that if we wait on the federal government to do something we may be waiting for a long time. So this bill provides something we can do: treat these businesses just like we do any other business in the state that has the potential to harm the public: we register and regulate them. The definitions are clear enough that only truly large platforms that are used for monetary gain will qualify, so websites that just have comment sections do not have to worry. Then we proceed just like any other registered business: we investigate claims made against it and adjudicate them. Now, we are bit limited in that we can’t force the businesses to close or yank their registration but we can use our administrative (and civil court process if necessary) to hold them accountable. And it certainly seems possible for these companies to do a better job in these areas, if they can serve amazingly targeted ads based on random bits of data surely they can do a better job controlling hate speech and fake information on their platforms. For their monetization schemes involving our personal data, this too is an area where these companies can still make money selling ads. Facebook doesn’t need to be one of the most profitable companies in the world, and to be clear, they can and will still sell advertising. We just want them to stop using our personal data to do it. No one should expect this bill to solve these problems, but it might just force some companies to start doing a better job of regulating themselves. As for first amendment concerns, no one has the first amendment right to say whatever they want on Twitter (or any other digital platform). They are private businesses free to regulate speech however they’d like. While it is true that the government is an intervening body here, we are merely holding a private business accountable for the actions on its platform. For decisions made by the commission, it is actually an administrative law judge making the rulings on cases.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The first amendment clearly does not allow government regulation of speech. What the bill proposes is to allow the government to regulate speech on these platforms—that they are private businesses is irrelevant, it is still the government regulating people’s speech
  • The commission is a powerful arbiter of speech (if not the ultimate judge) but it is small, mostly appointed by the governor, and nearly completely lacking in required credentials or expertise in order to serve
  • Many of the bill’s key terms are undefined, such as hate speech, conspiracy theories, and fake news
  • The government should not be attempting to be the arbiter of truth
  • The solution to this problem will have to be federal in nature and will have to attack it the same way we solve other problems with lies in the media—legal liability

In Further Detail: First amendment concerns very much apply here because we are not talking about these private companies regulating their own speech. We are talking about forcing them to take down speech. That is government infringement on our right to speech, which violates the first amendment. That alone is enough, but the mechanisms in the bill are also concerning. This commission is to be an extraordinarily powerful arbiter of speech in the state but it is small, mostly appointed by the governor, and nearly completely lacking in required credentials or expertise. Many of the terms of the bill are undefined, like hate speech, conspiracy theories, or fake news. Being the arbiter of truth is a near impossible task and one the government should not be taking on itself. There unfortunately is no way for Colorado itself to take on this problem—it is going to require federal solutions including changes to the infamous section 230 law that is the legal shield for social media companies. Because the solutions to the problem lie in the same sphere as the solutions for problems with other media disseminating lies—legal liability.


Bottom Line:

  • This isn’t likely to work fast enough and may just be ignored. These large companies can easily pay a $1.8 million annual fine for ignoring us. And even if they don’t ignore us, if it takes half a year to have some sort of resolution, that isn’t going to help much at all to police this behavior. We aren’t even a half year removed from the 2020 election right now At least the bill would have done something to address this festering and growing problem. More study does nothing

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-132

SB21-147 Sunset Continue Licensing Of Athletic Trainers (Fields (D), Holbert (R)) [Froelich (D), Van Winkle (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Continue the licensing of athletic trainers through 2031

Description:

To be licensed in Colorado, a trainer must acquire a certification from the Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers and work under the direction of a health care professional. That final provision means we are not talking about trainers at a gym, these trainers cannot offer their services directly to the public. A 2019 law changed their status from registered to licensed but with no other changes.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2031 with sunset review

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Only one state in the country does not regulate athletic trainers. Their work requires them to understand precisely how to mitigate risks to physical health and push people to improve their physical health at the same time. The risk of injury warrants ensuring that these professionals are qualified and can have appropriate action taken against their license if need be. The sunset review reports are advisory and do not have to be followed when lawmakers disagree. The recommendations of the review report amount to a distinction without difference—except for removing the ability of trainers who work under the care of medical professionals to differentiate themselves from trainers who do not, which helps inform consumers

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This was not the recommendation of the sunset review report from the department of regulatory agencies, which also found in 2014 that this profession does not need registration/licensure. The report recommends simply requiring passing the certification exam. This is because in the 10 years the agency has been reviewing this profession there has not been one complaint or disciplinary action taken. Since these trainers cannot market themselves directly to the public, it doesn’t really matter if they can distinguish themselves from other trainers in the public mind

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-147

SB21-148 Creation Of Financial Empowerment Office (Gonzales (D), Kolker (D)) [Esgar (D), Tipper (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $224,990
Fiscal Impact: About $280,000 a year

Goal:

  • Create the Financial Empowerment Office 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 identify barriers to financial empowerment and stability. It may partner with any governmental or non-profit entity.

Description:

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; 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; and tools that promote financial stability such as those that assist with service navigation, eviction avoidance, or connections to income supports.

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 council 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 safe and affordable credit building loans and financial products, including banking products with low fees and easy account access
  • Also work with stakeholders to identify products that may undermine financial stability
  • 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
  • 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.

The council is forbidden from having a majority of its members be people with ties to the financial services industry and every effort must be made to include representative of under-represented communities.

Annual report to legislature must include examination of existing financial products in the state; recommendations for reforms that would encourage greater access to secure, safe, and affordable financial products or would provide better protection to consumers; and examination of local financial empowerment work and the impact of economic security and mobility of residents

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.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Unbanked or underbanked populations face severe financial disadvantages that compound over their lifetimes, just check-cashing fees alone can cost someone $40,000 over their lifetime
  • 23% of Coloradans or either unbanked or underbanked and people of color are disproportionately impacted (as well of course as people with low-incomes)
  • The state has no centrally coordinated response to this problem, in particular attacking the problem of building credit—another compounding problem for people with low credit

In Further Detail: 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:

Bottom Line:

  • Underbanked is a flawed definition—it requires using non-bank institutions just once in the previous year, while someone with a bank account may use them more often for their own reasons
  • We don’t need a whole state office to attack some of the regulatory reform issues
  • There are already plenty of options out there for building credit and non-profits working on this exact issue

In Further Detail: 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 SB21-148

SB21-184 Ski Area Safety Plans And Accident Reporting (Story (D), Danielson (D))

KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Require all Colorado ski areas with a vertical drop of at least 500 feet and one elevated lift must report all deaths and injuries from the previous season on its website and by request. Must include total number of skiers and ski days in the season, including daily numbers, total acreage, terrain difficult ratings by percentage, total people killed and injured skiing and the total number of people killed and injured on a lift. This must be kept in a database as well (with no way to identify the individuals) which also must be made available on request
  • Require all Colorado ski areas to create a safety plan and annually update it as needed. Must be posted on the ski area’s website and available on request

Description:

Injury is defined as requiring medical attention outside of the facility (obviously to the ski area’s knowledge). Statistics must be broken out separately for injuries and deaths and include categorization of what the person was doing when injured or killed.

The database must include, for each incident: if the person was an employee, someone with a season pass, a ski patrol or mountain patrol volunteer, a patron without a season pass, or other uncompensated individual; what the person was doing at the time of the incident and if they were in a structured and supervised activity at the time (ski school); age and gender; date and time of injury; time when ski area personnel were notified and if the person was transported to medical facility, time of transport; location of the accident, including terrain difficulty; surface conditions and visibility at time and place of incident; description of apparent injuries and anatomical location; if available, vital signs, state of consciousness and orientation, and trauma score of the individual; outcome of incident if known; method of transport to outside medical facility; description to extent possible of equipment used by the individual (including make and model) and any assessment of damage to the equipment; and a summary description of the accident and apparent causes of injuries.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • A private group cobbled together data indicating 1,426 injuries that too place in the 2017-18 ski season that required hospital care. That’s about 9 a day, or an injury rate of 0.01%. But this unofficial source is the best we have, because there currently is no publicly available documentation of ski-area specific accidents or safety management documentation. This prevents researchers from looking for patterns that could identify preventable causes and thus strategies for accident mitigation. Whitewater rafting, a similarly potential dangerous outdoor activity, has such a database. Time to bring one to skiing as well.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Skiing is just a potentially dangerous activity and shaming the ski areas isn’t going to make it any safer. This will just create mountain of red tape for the ski resorts without any promise of actually making a fundamentally dangerous activity safer

Bottom Line:

  • It may make sense to keep a centralized database of these incidents, but the bill instead is going more for the public shaming route of posting on the ski area website. It would probably help researchers more if the state had all of the data compiled together in one place too

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-184

SB21-186 Event Ticket Sales And Resales Regulation (Donovan (D)) [Cutter (D)]

KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Allow events that sell tickets to put conditions or limit the ability of the ticket purchaser to resell the ticket (this includes for season ticket or subscription packages), including the ability to restrict resale as condition of purchase, restrict resale as a condition of purchasing future tickets, and requiring resale through approved resellers (all of this is currently banned)
  • Prohibit resellers from advertising, offering for sale or contract the resale of a ticket unless the reseller either has possession of the ticket or a written contract to obtain the ticket at a certain price from someone with possession of the ticket or the contractual right to obtain the ticket

Description:

Bill also makes it a deceptive trade practice to for online ticket sales to display a trademarked or copyrighted URL, title, designation, image, mark, or other symbol or such a thing that is substantially the same as the trademarked or copyrighted item without the written consent of the copyright owner.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Sophisticated reselling operations sweep up far too many tickets in online sales, up to 42% of all them according to research
  • The secondary market is a multi-billion dollar industry that benefits no one but these companies, which take a hefty (and sometimes hidden) fee for their services and are riddled with nefarious practices like passing themselves off as the actual venue or selling tickets they don’t actually yet posses
  • The market can sort out issues of original venues being too restrictive in what they allow for resale (like for season tickets)

In Further Detail: Reselling operations have gotten more sophisticated and now most popular events with online tickets are plagued by bots that sweep up all of the tickets, then turn around and resell them for profit. One estimate from a research group put 42% of all activity on primary ticketing platforms as coming from bots. These operations and the secondary market in general are a multi-billion dollar business that benefits no one but those companies. Companies like StubHub and Ticketmaster take a hefty fee for their services and sometimes these fees are cleverly hidden. Some sites try to pass themselves off as the actual venue or original seller (thus the prohibition against using trademarks). Sometimes sites sell tickets they don’t actually yet possess (another thing this bill bans). The degree to which any ban on resale is too restrictive will force event sellers to rethink the process when they see ticket sales drop (like on season tickets for example). The market can sort that out.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The solution to this problem is not allowing primary sellers to create monopolies where they force resellers to use or literally ban resale of a ticket
  • It is already illegal to use bots to circumvent security measures and the attorney general has the power to enforce this law. Stricter regulation of secondary sales sites and more competition are also better ways to address this problem
  • Many season ticket holders buy their tickets with the idea of reselling a chunk of them

In Further Detail: Fraudulent ticket resales and bots buying up tickets the moment they go on-sale are indeed a problem but the solution is not creating a monopoly which the event holder can force resellers to use or to literally ban the resale of a ticket. Both of these actions are not consumer friendly and give way too much power to the event holder, who is free to create their own resale market where they can take a healthy chunk out of each resale. It is already illegal to use bots to circumvent security measures on primary ticket sales site and the state attorney general has the power to enforce this law. In fact the answer to all of this in better enforcement, more regulation of secondary sales sites, and more competition. Many season ticket holders buy their tickets with the idea that they will resell a chunk of them, restricting that may mean depriving people entirely of the way they want to enjoy their events.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-186

SB21-190 Protect Personal Data Privacy (Rodriguez (D), Lundeen (R)) [Duran (D), Carver (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $300,000 a year

Goal:

  • Require businesses of a certain size in the state to give consumers in their databases the right to: opt-out of the database entirely, opt-out of targeted advertising use of their data, opt-out of sale of their data, opt-out of profiling based on their data, confirm whether the business has their data, right to correct their data, right to delete their data, and the right to obtain their data in a portable format that allows them to transmit the data to another entity (as technically feasible). Obtaining data in a portable format can be done maximum of twice a year and is only free once. Consumers must be given a clear and conspicious opt-out mechanism and by July 2024 a universal opt-out. Businesses can still get consumer consent to sale of data or targeted advertising after a universal opt-out but it must be clear and conspicious and consumers must be able to revoke the consent (must explain how)
  • Forbids these businesses from using data for targeted advertising or profiling, selling the data, or using sensitive data (see Description) without doing a data protection assessment that identifies and weighs benefits against risks (see Description for more detail). This assessment must be kept on file and made available to the state attorney general upon request. This does not include targeted ads based on requests by the consumer, or activity by the consumer within the company's own website or app, including serach queries
  • Require all these same businesses to clearly and conspicuously disclose the use of personal data for targeted advertising or the sale of personal data to third parties and the manner by which consumers can object to the sale or to the use of data for targeted advertising
  • Require all these same businesses to provide consumers with reasonably accessible, clear, and meaningful privacy notices that include: categories of data collected and what they are used for, estimate on how long the data will be kept, how consumer can exercise their rights under this bill, what categories of data are shared with third parties and what categories those third parties belong to
  • Same businesses have the duty to specify express purpose for collecting data, only collect the data they need, not use data for other purposes without consumer consent, take reasonable care to secure the data, avoid unlawful discrimination with the data, avoid sensitive data without consumer consent and any data from a minor without their parent or guardian’s consent
  • There are numerous exceptions to the bill, see Description for more detail

Description:

First, in order to be eligible a business must either be located in Colorado or produce products or services intentionally marketed to state residents. It must also either control personal data of at least 100,000 consumers or get revenue or other monetary considerations from the data of at least 25,000 consumers.

Second, the bill does not apply to people acting in an employment or commercial context, only as individual consumers.

Third, there is a long list of information and data for which this bill does not apply:

  • Protected health information, including patient access to medical records, information in medical research, anything to do with HIPAA, and information for patient safety research, any deidentified information that is derived from these health care areas, and information for the state’s insurance exchange
  • Any information that is maintained in the same manner as health care information by a covered entity, health care facility or provider, or qualified service organization
  • Any activity to do with lawful consumer credit data reporting and scores
  • Information collected by financial businesses that are in compliance with federal law on how to handle that data
  • Information collected from the department of motor vehicles so long as federal privacy protection laws are complied with
  • Any data already in compliance with the federal children’s online privacy protection act
  • Any student education records in compliance with federal privacy laws
  • Any data maintained for employment purposes
  • Airlines
  • Public utilties that follow federal and state law for their data
  • Financial institutions or securties exchanges regulated by the federal government

The bill also expressly states that it does not interfere with a business’ duty to comply with any laws, rules, or regulations; comply with any judicial proceedings; cooperate with law enforcement; investigate or defend legal claims; conduct internal research; fix errors; perform internal operations reasonably aligned with consumer expectations; provide a product or service requested by a consumer or take steps requested by a consumer; protect the vital interests of anyone; preserve the security of any system; or take appropriate action against malicious, deceptive, or illegal activity.

Personal data is defined as not including deidentified data or publicly available information. Bill allows for businesses to make reasonable inferences about what is publicly available and what is not. Sensitive data is defined as: personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, religious beliefs, a mental or physical health condition or diagnosis, sex life or sexual orientation, citizenship or citizenship status, genetic or biometric data, or the personal data of a child under 13.

Data protection assessments must weigh the benefits that may flow, directly and indirectly, from the activity to the business, the consumer, other stakeholders, and the public against the risks to the rights of the consumer, as mitigated by the safeguards the business can implement to reduce those risks. The context of the data use and the relationship between the consumer and the business must also be taken into account. These assessments are confidential and exempt from public inspection.

Bill requires any third-party that a business uses in any way for its personal data (so a contractor, nothing to do with selling the data) to adhere to all the provisions of this bill.

Businesses who receive any of the allowed requests from consumers regarding their data must take reasonable steps to notify every third-party to whom the business disclosed the information in the past year (so includes sales). Businesses have 45 days to respond to consumer requests but can take a 45 day extension (must notify consumer along with reason why). If the business decides it does not have to honor the request, it must notify the consumer why within 45 days and how the consumer can appeal. Appeal process also has a 45 day deadline which can be extended for another 45 days (with notification and explanation). Businesses must notify consumers unhappy about the results of an appeal of their ability to contact the state attorney general.

Bill bans businesses from requiring consumers to create a new account to exercise any of their rights or from retaliating against a consumer exercising their right by increasing the cost or decreasing the availability of a product or service.

Only the state may prosecute violations of this bill. Attorney general and district attorneys can seek injunctions, and if victorious, get civil penalties under the state consumer protection act (maximum of $5,000 penalty). Must issue a notice of violation first and give the business 60 days to cure the problem.

The attorney general may must also set techincal rules for univeral opt-out requirements.

Additional Information:

The bill also has provisions for deidentified data. It does not require any business to reidentify data or fulfill any consumer request if the business cannot match the consumer with the data without unreasonably burdensome effort.

Deidentified data must either be verified by an expert that it would be extremely hard to identify an individual based on the data or the data must not include names, geographic information other than state, any personal dates associated with the individual, phone or fax numbers, e-mail addresses, social security numbers, medical record numbers, health plan beneficiary numbers, account numbers, certificate and license numbers, vehicle information including license plates and VINs, device identifiers and serial numbers, web universal resource locators, IP addresses, biometric identifiers, full face photos, and any other unique identifying number, characteristic or code.

Pseudoanonymous data (data that is anonymous so long as it is not paired with other data in a separate database) also does not apply if the business can demonstrate the data required to identify the consumer is kept separately and there are sufficient safeguards at the business to prevent anyone at the business from connecting the information.

Bill supersedes and preempts all local law, ordinance, resolution, regulation, or equivalent on the subject.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The amount of data on all of us that is amassed in business is enormous and grows every day. This is an enormous risk to everyone’s privacy and lives: financial fraud, identity theft, emotional distress, and reputational damage are all very real risks
  • The bill provides reasonable ways for consumers to opt-out of this data marketplace and have some measure of reasonable control over how their data is used
  • Companies can still sell data, still use targeted advertising, and still use their data to try to sell products and services to consumers. They just need to be transparent, let consumers opt-out, and ensure there are greater benefits than risks

In Further Detail: The amount of our personal data out in databases all over the world is staggering and it grows all the times. This presents an enormous risk to our privacy of course, but also to our financial security when data is breached. We aren’t just risking getting inundated with e-mail or phone calls we don’t want (that shouldn’t happen too) but also financial fraud or identify theft that can ruin credit, emotional distress and in some cases reputational damage. So what this bill does is restore some balance and transparency into this equation. First, consumers have basic rights around their own data, including the ability to opt-out. This is basic, and should be uncontroversial. Second, companies have responsibility over control of the data and to only collect what they need. That also should be uncontroversial. Third, we need tighter controls over targeted advertising and data sales. This is likely more controversial, but before we let businesses profit on our data, we should be making sure it is for good reasons and we definitely should be making sure there is public knowledge over what is happening. This is our data, about our personal lives. It belongs first and foremost to us, not to a business. Companies can still sell data, they can still use targeted advertising, and they can still try to sell their own products and services to consumers using their data. The bill just puts some guardrails around those processes. And let’s also be clear that this only applies to big businesses with big databases. So issues around compliance and appeals and such things can be handled without much of a problem.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • 100,000 is not as large a number as it might seem, this will sweep up a lot of businesses that may be ill-equipped to handle the sophisticated data operations this bill demands
  • This mountain of regulatory work will increase the cost of doing in business in Colorado, could put a chilling effect on selling data (which will harm some businesses), and may results in higher prices for consumers
  • Large-scale approaches like this work much better at scale: a business can decide its not worth it to operate in Colorado if they are constrained like this but the same wouldn’t be true of the United States as a whole
  • In most cases no one is forcing you to give a business your data—there are frequently alternative ways to purchase the same item or service that don’t involve data and cash still works at most places

In Further Detail: First of all 100,000 people in a database is not the giant number it might seem. Any business that has any sort of online presence is going to try to build up as big a base of potential customers as they can. So this has the potential to sweep up a bunch of businesses that will not be prepared for the sophistication this bill requires. Internal appeals processes? Third-party data experts to prove pseudoanonymity? Sophisticated data assessments that potentially need to withstand the scrutiny of the attorney general? All of that calls for a big business with multiple departments (including legal) to handle this. Even those businesses that can handle this are facing a mountain of regulatory work. That could put a chilling effect on actions like selling data and could make it harder for some businesses to compete in Colorado. Those that do stay may passed on increased costs to consumers. Going it alone like this also is not as effective as going as a block. The European Union can demand fealty to strict laws because it covers most of Europe. Colorado on its own? Some businesses may decide to just leave us out. The entire United States? That would be a different story. Finally, let’s be clear that all of this is part of the implicit contract we’ve made to have a more digital, on-demand society. The benefits of ordering something from across the country via the Internet and having it arrive within days don’t come free. By participating we are choosing to lose some of our privacy, because no one is forcing anyone to participate. Use cash, buy local, don’t use social media and you can stay out of these databases for the most part.


Bottom Line:

  • Enforcing this is going to be extremely difficult, since it only applies to businesses of a certain size it will be hard for consumers to know if the business is supposed to be complying with this law or not, which could waste time and resources. The tiny amount of damages that can be won only after litigation may also not be enough of a deterrence

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-190

SB21-204 Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant Program Funding (Donovan (D), Rankin (R)) [Young (D), Van Beber (R)]

*State stimulus Bill, 1% of all stimulus funds spent in this bill*

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $5 million
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Spend $5 million on an existing grant program to help rural areas diversity their economies through new  or expanded businesses.

Description:

Appropriate $5 million to the state’s existing rural economic development initiative grant program (REDI) to spend on grants for employers who are creating economic activity in the local economies of rural communities. Grants must meet at least one of the following criteria: benefit a key industry in the region by encouraging capital development, 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, and show strong support from local workforce agencies. State can use up to 3.75% of the funds for administrative expenses.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • 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. As we look to recover from the pandemic, these rural areas may have an ever harder time than the rest of the state due to dependence on single industries. We need to give them a helping hand. We have an excess of $700 million (now $800 million) to spend from last year’s budget due to better than expected tax revenues (some already spent), so there is plenty of money

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 SB21-204

SB21-218 Colorado Department Of Labor And Employment Employment And Training Technology Fund (Hansen (D), Rankin (R)) [McCluskie (D)]

Note: This bill is part of the overall budget package

From the Joint Budget Committee

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: $31 million diverted from unemployment compensation fund to unemployment technology fund.

Goal:

Keep diverting state unemployment business taxes to the unemployment technology fund despite the unemployment compensation fund being below $100 million, with smaller future caps on the technology fund and the entire technology fund expiring in 2031. This money is to be used to upgrade the business tax collection side of the unemployment system.

Description:

Right now a portion of state unemployment funds (that comes from taxes on businesses) go to the unemployment system’s technology fund, but only if the balance of the state unemployment fund is $100 million or more.

Bill repeals the requirement to divert these funds when the compensation fund falls below $100 million (it is currently $1 billion negative). It lowers the cap on the amount of funds that can be sent to the technology fund from $10 million to $7 million beginning in 2023 (so next two years will remain $10 million), removes the cumulative revenue cap on the technology fund (which we would hit fairly soon) and instead repeals the entire technology fund portion in 2031. Will result in an increase of $31 million to the technology fund (and out of the compensation fund) through 2023 (then the $7 million cap sets in, we are also expected to have replenished the compensation fund by then). Puts a cap on the funds in the technology fund at $31 million.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: July 2031 for the technology fund

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The business tax collection side of unemployment insurance still operates on 1980s era technology and was planned for an upgrade (already completed on claims side) prior to pandemic
  • Without this bill, there will be no money to fund this upgrade over the next few years as all money will be kept in compensation fund

In Further Detail: Basically we are still operating the business tax collection side of this on 1980s era technology (no exaggeration). We started this odyssey in 1999 with an attempt to upgrade all parts of the system, so the side for people making claims too. This cost $27.9 million and failed (which prompted serious changes). Then the state spent $6.5 million in 2009 to make the claims system electronic (again, no joke it was not electronic prior). This worked but the rest of the system was still terrible. We promised $14.8 million to get part of a 4 state federal grant of $62.2 million in 2013. This too failed, at the cost of $15.4 million of the grant money and $4.9 million of state money. In 2016 the state tried again, with $51.5 million that later expanded to $57.8 million. But you’ll never guess what happened: that was only enough to modernize the claims side of the system (welcome to IT projects). This was completed early last year and ready to launch when the pandemic hit. The state delayed the launch, had to spend another $6 million to cover CARES act and state changes and finally launched this January. Now we have the business side to convert and we’ve appropriated $28.4 million to do so, out of this existing technology fund. But of course our unemployment fund is empty and will remain so for several years so the technology fund cannot get any money. Enter this bill: which keeps diverting money to the technology fund so we can finish this project (and you may have noticed doesn’t necessarily believe the price tag will not rise). As for the idea that diverting these funds will make a big difference in solvency, when you are $1 billion in the hole $31 million won’t do too much to help. Higher premiums are coming either way.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Don’t we have billions of dollars of federal stimulus money and hundreds of millions of dollars of state stimulus money? We should pay for this upgrade with that money and let the severely depleted unemployment insurance fund get replenished more quickly. There are some automated stabilizers in place on the fund that will raise premiums for businesses (they’ve been postponed for now because of the pandemic) to keep it solvent. We can avoid some of this by not diverting money for this project

In Further Detail: This is really quite simple. The state has $3.9 billion of federal stimulus money. It has $800 million to spend (well, some of it is already spent) in state stimulus money. Why are we not grabbing the $28.4 million we need out of those funds? It’s a perfect fit, one-time payment for IT infrastructure development. Because going the route of this bill has some consequences. Our unemployment tax system has automated increases to keep the fund solvent which kick in at various points. These are currently delayed to 2023, but we owe the federal government $1 billion, and then will need another $100 million just to reach that former point we considered an emergency. So diverting $31 million out of the fund is a big deal right now and we should not be doing it. Ordinarily that would simply mean delaying the project but again, we’ve got billions we can spend right now and only right now, so it’s an easy fit.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-218

SB21-229 Rural Jump-start Zone Grant Program (Danielson (D), Story (D)) [Amabile (D), McKean (R)]

*State stimulus bill, less than 1% of all stimulus money spent in this bill*

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $3 million
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Create a new grant program to go with an existing tax relief program designed to help the most economically distressed communities in the state (already identified by the existing program). The grant program will give new businesses money both as start-up seed and for each new employee. Bill gives the grant fund $3 million.

Description:

Create the rural jump start zone grant program to work with the existing rural jump start zone program. This existing program helps economically distressed communities, designated as rural jump start zones, by giving incentives to new businesses including four years of tax relief from state income taxes (business and employees), state sales and use taxes, county business personal property taxes and in some places, municipal personal property taxes as well.

The new grant program allows for grants of up to $20,000 to new businesses to establish operations and up to $2,500 to new businesses per employee hired and up to $40,000 to new business to establish operations in what the state designates as a tier 1 transition community (communities heavily dependent on coal) and $5,000 per new employee. Current tier 1 transition communities are the west end of Montrose County, the Yampa Valley, Morgan County, and Pueblo.

Can also issue grants of a maximum of $30,000 per applicant to institutions of higher education or economic development organziations to support a new business that received jump start approval. State must consider: applicants real and demonstrated need, other non-monetary benefits the applicants gets from working with the new business, number of new businesses the applicant currently collaborating with and likely to collaborate with in the future, if the grant will support workforce development and applied research projects, and any other factors deemed important.

Bill creates a new fund for these grants and appropriates $3 million dollars to the fund. Program can spend a maximum of $100,000 a year out of the fund to administer the grant program.

Current counties designated as jump start zones are: Archuleta, Clear Creek, Delta, Dolores, Las Animas, Logan, Mesa, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Otero, Prowers, Rio Blanco, Routt, and San Juan. Counties that are eligible but have not applied yet for jump start zone status are: Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Cyster, Fremont, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jackson, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Morgan, Phillips, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache, Sedgwick, Washington, and Yuma. Counties need either an institute of higher education or an economic development organization to form a jump start zone.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is the only program the state has to direct resources directly to businesses to develop in economically distressed areas of the state. We need to get the economic engine moving in these areas, and in particular in places where the coal industry is starting to vanish and take along with it a lot of jobs. We established a just transition plan to help these communities and this bill allows us to put some more money into ensuring that parts of rural Colorado that were already hurting before the pandemic are able to recover and hopefully thrive into the future. For businesses, having assurances about being able to weather those tough early years can make all the difference so that when we take away the government supports we have a functioning business that contributes to the local economy. We have $700 million (now $800 million) in surplus from last year’s better than expected budget (some already spent) so there is plenty of money

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 extend a program that disadvantages new businesses not fortunate enough to start in distressed economic areas

Bottom Line:

  • 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 SB21-229

SB21-241 Small Business Accelerated Growth Program (Fields (D), Bridges (D)) [Ricks (D), Daugherty (D)]

*State stimulus bill, less than 1% of total stimulus funds spent in this bill*

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $1.7 million
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Create a grant program to help small businesses, particularly in areas of the state that were economically distressed before the pandemic, with support to help them in various areas of their business through existing infrastructure or third-party private contractors. Spend $1.35 million on the grants and another $150,000 on marketing the program.

Description:

Creates the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program, which provides grants to businesses with fewer than 20 employees (including owners) and have been in business for more than a year to assist with marketing, operations and finance, access to capital, exporting, website search engine optimization, and other programs identified by the state. The goal is using existing infrastructure or trained private contractors to execute this assistance. $1.5 million appropriated for the program, of which $1,350,000 must go to grants (rest is for administration).

In addition to the grants, the state is to spend $150,000 on a marketing initiative developed by the office of economic development in coordination with the minority business office, small business development center, local chambers of commerce, and other local and regional economic development entities. This marketing must be designed to promote the program in rural jump start zones, state opportunity zones, historically underutilized business zones, enterprise zones, or communities designated as tier 1 transition communities (heavy reliance on coal for local economic development). The grant program must give priority to businesses located in any of these target zones.

Grants must be awarded before end of 2022 and grantees have one year to use their grants. State must report to the legislature in 2022, 2023, and 2024 on the program and the program is repealed in July 2025.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: July 2025

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Obviously part of our economic recovery from the pandemic includes helping businesses get back on their feet. Small businesses in particular remain more susceptible to economic shocks because they generally have much less margin for error. So we want to help these businesses and in particular we want to prioritize businesses in areas that are already identified as struggling economically, even before the pandemic. Successful businesses can have a multiplier effect as they employ people in the community, who then have money to spend in the community, and thus help even more local businesses. By targeting this at businesses who are beyond the first-year startup stage, we have more chance for success in creating real stability and economic impact

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • There has been an avalanche of federal relief money for businesses to this point, but not all of them have been able to be accessed by some small businesses. It would make sense therefore to prioritize businesses who haven’t already gotten relief funding from the federal government first, especially since this isn’t a lot of money to give out

Bottom Line:

  • This is nowhere near enough money to spend, we have $800 million in state stimulus money. $1.3 million is going to disappear rapidly, even $10 million probably would. But as Arguments For points out, this sort of investment can be well-worth it to kickstart our recovery

Bottom Line:

  • This is extremely broadly defined with such a small pot of money to spend. What are maximum grant amounts, because one company alone could easily eat up the entire fund. Can we be a little more specific about what we want to spend this money on, because that would also help with grant prioritization. Do we want to have a list of things that this money cannot be used for, like retiring debt or a new company car?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-241

SB21-252 Community Revitalization Grant Program (Fenberg (D), Holbert (R)) [Titone (D), Lontine (D)]

*State stimulus bill, 8% of total stimulus funds spent in this bill*

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $65 million
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Create a grant program to spend money in local communities on create projects in either existing or proposed mixed-use commercial centers with preferences given to projects that have outside funding, are in places experiencing economic hardship, have sustainable housing, have strong community support, will stimulate community and economic development, will be able to start quickly, and demonstrate a public benefit. $65 million given to the program and all must be spent by end of next year.

Description:

Creates the Community Revitalization Grant Program which provides grants to local governments to support creative projects in either existing or proposed mixed-use commercial centers, including: flexible live-work or vendor spaces for entrepreneurs, artists, people employed in creative industries, and artisan manufacturers; performance spaces; mixed-use retail and workforce housing partnerships (means affordable housing located near places of work); meeting spaces for community events; renovation or refurbishment of vacant or blighted property for creative industries, economic development, or historic preservation purposes; and child care centers. $65 million appropriated to the program.

Preference must be given to projects that: are located in creative districts and historic districts, are located in communities experiencing economic hardship, will stimulate community and economic development in part through creative industries, have demonstrated an ability to begin work within a reasonable amount of time, demonstrate broad support from local governments and surrounding communities and neighborhoods, demonstrate strong evidence of being able to attract additional sources of funding, incorporate sustainable housing elements, and demonstrate a public benefit.

Any grant requests that exceed $100,000 must get at least 50% of the total financing for the project from some other source.

Bill creates a stakeholder group consisting of representatives of the division of local government (which runs the program), department of local affairs, the Colorado housing and finance authority, a community development financial institution, the Colorado educational and cultural facilities authority, History Colorado, and other relevant stakeholders, industry partners, housing advocates, and interested parties. This group is to advise on grant applications.

State can contract part of its administrative duties to a third-party administrative entity and can spend a total of 4% of the money on administrative costs. State has until the end of 2022 to award all the money, any money left at that point reverts to the general fund. State must report to the legislature in November 2022 and November 2023 on how the money was spent. Program is repealed in January 2025.

Creative districts can already be created by local governments. They must be physically contiguous; be distinguished by physical, artistic, or cultural resources that play a vital role in the quality and life of a community; be the site of a concentration of artistic or cultural activity, a major arts or cultural institution or facility, arts and entertainment business, area with arts and cultural activities, or artistic or cultural production; and be engaged in the promotion, preservation, and educational aspects of the arts and culture of the community and contribute to the public through interpretive, educational, or recreational uses. There are 26 such districts in Colorado.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: January 2025

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a way to create true community centers that mix different types of activities together into one central location that will drive visits, living space, potential retail use, and business/commercial development
  • It is by no means exclusive to creative industries, mixed retail/housing and child care facilities are specifically mentioned and the language of the bill is broad
  • Culture is also an essential industry that was extremely hard hit by the pandemic (more than $1.4 billion lost by last October) and is a great way to knit communities together
  • The bill also provides a great opportunity to turn vacant lots and blight into real community centers
  • This is a lot of money but to the extent to which we can use it to build vibrant community centers all over the state it will be well spent

In Further Detail: We have an opportunity here with all of this state stimulus money to make real investments in communities all over the state to create true community centers that mix different types of activities together into one central location that will drive visits, living space, potential retail use, and business/commercial development. This grant program is aimed just for this, and although the heart of the program is creative industries, it is by no means exclusive to projects in that area. Mixed-retail/housing is specifically called out, as is child care facilities (desperately needed all over the state) and the terms around prioritization that include stimulating commercial and economic activity are pretty broad, even if part of it is supposed to be cultural. And let’s discuss culture. It’s an essential industry that was really hard hit by the pandemic. The arts industry contributes over $31.6 billion dollars to the state economy and employs over 190,000 people (pre-pandemic). By just last October the industry had lost more than $1.4 billion. Arts and culture are great ways to bring communities together as are what you might call gathering areas. These are places where people congregate and provide a true sense of being in a community. If you don’t have these areas or lose them due to unaffordability for the generally low paying creative sector there is a serious negative impact in the community as a whole. The program can also revitalize areas affected by vacant lots and blight, which can then bring people into the community, along with their money, to help entire communities prosper. So yes, this is a lot of money. And no, we probably aren’t going to spend it on shopping malls. It may be a bit premature to rule out things like parks and recreation centers, as those can be cultural hubs as well. But in the end, the goal is to create vibrant community centers where people can work, live, and play. The extent to which we can do that all over the state will be money well spent.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Creative industries should not be this large a focus of our state stimulus package, this bill is one of the largest single elements of the entire $800 million stimulus
  • Community centers can go beyond creative industries and leisure activities would seem to not fit into this grant program so things like rec centers, parks, sports facilities, and game centers seem left out
  • The stakeholder group that is supposed to advise on the grants is pretty vague, this is too much money to simply throw this into the executive branch and hope for the best

In Further Detail: There is nothing wrong with making creative industries such as the bill describes part of this overall massive grant program aimed at helping revitalize communities. The problem is making it the sole focus. Let’s be clear: this is one of the largest single spends in our entire $800 million stimulus package, so it’s worth asking some tough questions about the prioritization. While the bill’s grant program is certainly vague in spots, the core of it is creative industries. That is to say, if your plan for revitalizing a particular part of your community doesn’t have anything to do with creative industries, you are probably going to lose out in prioritization even if it could have a demonstrable positive local economic impact. Of course creative industries itself is a vague term that is not defined by the bill, but the idea would seem to be artistic and cultural activity, since that is required for creative districts (which also receive prioritization under the bill). So projects aimed at leisure activities such as recreation centers, outdoor playgrounds and sports facilities, or indoor ice rinks or game centers, might lose out. They certainly are not specifically called out by the bill in the way that child care or mixed retail/housing are. The stakeholder group list is also pretty vague. We are talking about spending $65 million here, we need to take the extra time to work this stuff out first rather than tossing it in the lap of the executive branch and hoping for the best.


Bottom Line:

  • This is too much to spend on this grant program. We have a multiple other crises in the state that deserve more of the stimulus package than they are getting (mental health, water, transportation)

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-252

SB21-259 Modify Nonforfeiture Percent Surrender Annuity (Rodriguez (D)) [Bird (D), Sandridge (R)]

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Lower the amount that must be paid in some circumstances when an annuity is surrendered by lowering the fraction of the federal reserve rate from 1% to 0.15%.

Description:

Makes a small change in our annuity’s that are surrendered are handled. Right now the insurance company must pay the former policy holder either 3% of the policy value or a fraction of the federal reserve rate (it’s a complicated calculation) per year, whichever is less. The federal reserve fraction must be no less than 1%. The bill changes this to no less than 0.15%.

Annuity’s contracts can lapse for this reason due to nonpayment of premiums or just plain surrendering the contract. In either case what is being paid out is the percentage of what was paid into the annuity up until that point.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Colorado law in this area is modeled on a uniform national standard created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That association has voted to make this change in the law, so the bill is simply following their lead. The change was made due to our extremely low interest rate environment.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-259

SB21-263 Outdoor Advertising Act (Zenzinger (D), Smallwood (R)) [McCluskie (D), McKean (R)]

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Make some changes to outdoor advertising regulations on highways, by removing consideration of content of ad and focusing more on if someone is paying for it or not and loosening some of the rules around how close billboards have to be to the goods or services it is advertising or how close they can be to each other if they are facing different directions.

Description:

Makes a few changes to outdoor advertising regulations on highways (billboards!)

Clarifies the definition of outdoor advertising by adding that anything outside used to inform for which compensation is directly or indirectly paid or earned in exchange for its erection or existence is outdoor advertising. Adds another exception (already advertising on a moving vehicle is exempt) for advertising devices that are part of a comprehensive development (all land is used for the activities of the development). Removes definitions (and separate rules) for directional advertising devices, on-premise advertising devices, and official advertising devices.

Loosens the rules around advertising devices on highways by removing requirement they only inform public of goods and services within 5 miles and that no one can have more than one advertising device. Second allow for advertisements on displays that can change electronically to be within 1,000 feet of each other on the same side of highways so long as they don’t face the same direction.

Removes requirement that application for a permit for an advertising device contain the year the device was erected. Requires the state to respond to an application within 30 days and allows for appeal of a denial, must be within 30 days of decision.

Removes ability for state to grant waivers to erect official advertising devices within the right-of-way of a state highway and for official, on-premise, or directional devices in scenic byways, which means no advertising on those roads at all.

Removes ability to allow on-premise advertising devices over existing rights-of-way or future rights-of-way (highways, so we are talking about extending over the highway).

Allows a property owner to keep a potential advertising device on their property without a permit if they provide an affidavit under penalty of perjury stating it is not an advertising device as defined by law.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This greatly simplifies the state’s regulation of outdoor ad industry. Right now the state has to determine if the ad is on-premise or off-premise (in which case different rules apply) and worry about the content of the billboard and instead just worry if someone is paying for it or not. With that change comes removal of some of the exceptions that were based on content, such as in right-of-ways or scenic highways. A lot of the other changes are simple common sense, having to do with billboards pointing in specific directions and not worrying so much about if services or goods are available within 5 miles of the billboard.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Simple may not be better, under this bill the state would be getting into if someone is getting paid or not which could open new cans of worms that businesses don’t want to deal with and the state may have some trouble uncovering

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-263

SB21-285 Coverage Levels For Occupational Accident Insurance (Rodriguez (D), Smallwood (R)) [Mullica (D), Van Winkle (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Loosen the requirements around occupational accident insurance which independent contractors for transportation services (truckers) can use instead of worker’s compensation insurance by removing the requirement that the occupational accident insurance must be at least comparable to the standards offered by worker’s compensation.

Description:

Changes the requirements for work-related injury coverage for independent contractors for transportation services who opt-out of worker’s compensation insurance by removing requirement that the insurance (called occupational accident insurance) must at least be comparable to the standards offered under the worker’s compensation system.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Occupational accident insurance is not some new thing, it is available in many other states and the obvious benefit can be financial. These plans can be 50% cheaper than what is currently required by state law (currently this is impossible due to the similarity requirement the bill removes) which could make the difference for a trucking company that is just scrapping by right now, in part thanks to COVID. It also allows a company based in Colorado to more easily compete in other neighboring states where looser insurance types are allowed. Many of the potential problems of occupational accident insurance are mitigated by other existing aspects of the law this bill does not touch, namely the requirement that all of the policy specifications must meet or exceed standards set by the state. So we don’t have to worry about something that is insurance in name only and won’t actually cover what someone needs if there is an accident. Remember, these are independent contractors so we aren’t talking about a fleet of trucks and employees either. That takes care of most of the other concerns about occupational accident insurance

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Let’s be clear, we are amending the law so as to allow these independent contractors, who have little to no cushion to fall back on to keep earning money if something happens to them, inferior insurance. Occupational accident insurance typically does not cover legal expenses and there are generally few statutory limits for occupational accident lawsuits. To cap it off, the burden of proof in these cases is on the employer, not the employee as in worker’s compensation cases so if you have a contractor who isn’t a sole operator (and it is possible), they are assuming enormous potential legal liability they may be completely unaware of until it is too late. And they may also be assuming wage replacement and medical liability too, because worker’s compensation covers these things, period. That part is not at all alleviated by being a sole employee/owner. In other words so long as it is a legitimate expense of a legitimate injury it is paid for. Occupational insurance is different. Once you reach your policy limit, that’s it, everything else is on you. So even if those limits are reasonable, as Arguments For points out they must adhere to state standards, there is still the risk of exceeding them

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-285

SB21-291 Economic Recovery And Relief Cash Fund (Fenberg (D), Holbert (R)) [Roberts (D), Van Winkle (R)]

PASSED

Appropriation: $848.8 million of federal stimulus money
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Put aside about $800 million of federal stimulus money to spend in the future on assistance to small business, aid to businesses impacted by COVID, assistance to unemployed workers, contributions to the state unemployment fund, relief efforts for unmet needs (especially in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID), assistance to individuals and households, assistance to non-profit organizations, public health expenditures for COVID-19 response and prevention including staff and adminstrative costs, and investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. A task force is to study how to best spend this money over the rest of this year. Spend $40 million of federal stimulus money on business aid that fits that criteria now, with $10 million set aside for rural Colorado.

Description:

Transfers $848.8 million of federal stimulus money (this is not money that is from the SB-289, the revenue replacement money, but from the rest of the federal stimulus) to the Economic Recovery and Relief Cash Fund, which is created by the bill. The legislature is allowed to appropriate money out of this fund for: assistance to small business, aid to businesses impacted by COVID, assistance to unemployed workers, contributions to the state unemployment fund, and relief efforts for unmet needs, especially for communities disproportionately impacted by COVID. Money can also be spent on investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

The bill then spends $40 million of this money by sending it to the already existing Colorado economic development fund, which must use $10 million to incentive small businesses to locate in rural Colorado and for the existing employment incentive program (which is location-neutral and provides cash incentives for businesses that hire new employees who work remotely from rural areas of the state). The other $30 million must be used by the office to provide grants to small businesses or undertake any other economic development activity allowed by the bill in response to negative economic impacts of COVID.

For the rest of the money, the leadership from both parties of both legislative chamber is to create a task force to meet during the 2021 interim (after end of 2021 session and before start of 2022 session) to create a report with recommendations on how to spend the money to provide a stimulative effect to the state’s economy, necessary relief for Coloradans, or that address emerging economic disparities resulting from COVID. The joint budget committee staff will examine the report to look for programs that duplicate existing programs and programs that would require ongoing appropriations (which we don’t want because this is one-time money). No bill drafts from the task force, which is paid for by the fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: July 2027

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Better to look before we leap with at least a large chunk of our federal stimulus money, given the massive state stimulus already spent this year it isn’t time critical (and we are spending lots of federal stimulus money too, in other bills) and it gives us some time to observe the effects of the money already spent
  • As for the $40 million, rural Colorado was already struggling before the pandemic and was hit hard. Remember that there are a bunch of stimulus bills spread all over this session, so we’ve spent in a lot of other areas, specifically for businesses, already, but just $8 million specifically for rural Colorado so far. And the bill only directs $10 million specifically to rural Colorado. The rest can be spend anywhere in the state to help businesses recover from the pandemic

In Further Detail: We have a lot of money to spend and it is better to look before we take huge leaps. We know the rough areas we want to invest in, but given the massive state stimulus this year and the large amounts of the federal stimulus we are already spending, it makes sense to set aside about $800 million and say we will decide in the future how we are going to spend it. It also gives us a chance to observe how the money spent this year is doing. As for the $40 million, we know rural parts of the state were already struggling before the pandemic and, like typically happens during periods of extreme economic shock, were hit harder by the pandemic. These funds can help build economic stability into all parts of the state. It is also always important to remember when dealing with these stimulus bills that you cannot consider just one bill in a vacuum. There is enormous amounts of money flowing out the state into all sorts of areas, and for businesses, we’ve already spent $65 million on commercial center revitalization, $30 million on a loan program for businesses, $10 million on events and meetings, $15 million on grants for small businesses, and $10 million on the creative arts industry. But just $8 million specifically on rural Colorado so far. And the bill only directs $10 million specifically to rural Colorado, the other $30 can be spent anywhere in the state to help businesses recover from the pandemic.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • It is too limiting to simply say that rural Colorado was hit hard and needs help. It is not too difficult for us to determine which communities in the state (the entire state) need the most help. Yes, $30 million is not dedicated to any area in particular, but that also means it is not dedicated to communities hit the hardest by the pandemic. In other words, we have $10 million for rural Colorado and $30 for everyone. We should carve out more for other communities hit hardest by the pandemic. They need the most help

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-291