Eye on the Legislature

April 10, 2017

    House Bill 17-1214:  Colorado is known for the number of small businesses that contribute enormously to the state’s economy. The 2017 General Assembly is recognizing this by HB 1214 titled “Concerning Efforts to Encourage Employee Ownership of the State’s Existing Small Businesses . . .” The legislative declaration of the bill included the following points and statistics:

  1. Nearly one million workers are employed  by small businesses in Colorado which equals about half of our workforce;
  2. Nearly sixty-six percent of small businesses are owned by so-called “baby boomers,” people who began turning sixty-five years old in 2011 (U. S. Census Bureau);
  3. Many small business owners in both urban and rural areas do not have a succession plan for their retirement – as these business owners retire, there will be approximately ten trillion dollars in assets up for sale on the national level;
  4. Studies have shown that employee ownership is one successful solution to this problem because it allows small business owners to strategize an exit that keeps the business and jobs in the community and keeps the business owner’s legacy in tact;
  5. There are more than one hundred eighty employee-owned businesses in Colorado;
  6. Encouraging broader use of employee ownership is a highly cost-effective way to retain and create jobs, increase wealth for a broad sector of workers, strengthen communities and expand economic growth; and
  7. Local community economies benefit from employee ownership through an enhanced tax base, maintaining property values, and higher instances of on-time repayment of loans.

   Companies that are partially or fully employee-owned and democratically managed offer many advantages – a succession plan in place to ensure that the company continues to add value to the communities it serves, employees are invested in their place of employment and get to enjoy the fruits of their labor, employees and management goals are aligned, allowing for a stronger and more resilient company and employees have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur without all of the risk.

The re-engrossed HB 1214 requires the Office of Economic Development and International Trade to establish a revolving loan fund program to assist existing businesses with a transition to becoming employee-owned businesses.

Such a program is complicated as explained in HB 1214.  “Only existing businesses that are at least two years old, have at least three employees, have annual net revenues of no more than $5 million, offer employee ownership opportunity to every employee, and plan to or have entered into an employee ownership program with at least half the employees able to participate in the program.”

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1214:  Representative James D. Coleman (D-Denver) 866-2909; and Senator Jack Tate (R-Arapahoe) 866-4883.

House Bill 17-1230:  Titled “Protection for Colorado Residents From Federal Government Overreach Based on a Person’s Status,” HB 1230 will be one of the controversial bills this session.

HB 1230 “requires a state or political subdivision therein to determine the legality and constitutionality of any request from the federal government concerning a Colorado resident’s race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation (personal information) before complying with such a request.”

HB 1230 also includes mandates that “neither the state nor any political subdivision therein can aid or assist the federal government in:”

  1. creating, maintaining or updating a registry of Colorado residents’ personal information, except with regard to the U. S. Census Bureau;
  2. marking or otherwise placing a physical or electronic identifier on a person based on his or her personal information;
  3. holding or imprisoning a person without probable cause or due process (internment) for longer than 48 hours based on his or her personal information; or
  4. arresting or detaining individuals for non-criminal offenses based on their personal information.

   No doubt, HB 1230 is meant as an attempt to put in place a way to protect the cities and counties against the threat of the Trump Administration to withhold federal funds from those offering sanctuary to persons illegally in the state – a “stab” at laying the foundation for a claim of states rights.

Lead Sponsors of House Bill 17-1230:  Representatives Joseph A. Salazar (R-Adams) 866-2918, and Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo) 866-2968; and Senators Lucia Guzman (D-Denver) 866-4862, and Daniel Kagan (D-Arapahoe 866-4846.

House Bill 17-1283:  Created by HB 1283 is yet another one of those task forces. This time the task is to “identify and develop models for a program to promote child welfare caseworker resiliency.”

The legislative declaration of HB 1283 includes the need for such a program:

  1. Child caseworkers are regularly exposed to a heightened level of trauma and often exposed to children and families who suffer from violence, behavioral health challenges, or extreme poverty, with most child welfare caseworkers experiencing what is known as “secondary trauma;”
  2. Secondary trauma is defined as indirect exposure to trauma through a firsthand account or narrative of a traumatic event; and
  3. Symptoms of secondary trauma can include distressing emotions, intrusive imagery, numbing or work avoidance, addictive or compulsive behavior and impairment of daily functioning.

   Also described in HB 1283 are the various circumstances child welfare caseworkers work under such as a high degree of uncertainty and they have the responsibility for life and death decisions concerning children and families. “The work environment for child welfare caseworkers can be physically and emotionally dangerous. Caseworkers enter the homes of involuntary clients and are expected to conduct a thorough safety assessment of both the patients and children.”

The responsibilities of the child welfare caseworkers take a toll, with a resulting annual turnover rate ranging between twenty-three and sixty percent. Such a turnover rate leads to staffing shortages and insufficient time for remaining child welfare caseworkers to conduct their jobs properly.

HB 1283 requires the task force to base its work and findings on national models for such programs, with a report due to the Joint Budget Committee and the Joint Health and Human Services Committee by December 31, 2017.

Lead Sponsors of House Bill 12-1283:  Representatives Jonathan Singer (D-Boulder) 866- 2780, and Dan Nordberg (R-El Paso) 866-2965; and Senators Leroy M. Garcia, Jr. (D-Pueblo) 866-4878, and John Cooke (R-Weld) 866-4451.

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.