Colorado’s small biz advocate issues its legislative report card…

…and the 2017 session’s grade is: B-

That’s the assessment of the National Federation of Independent Business in Colorado and its longtime state director, Tony Gagliardi. NFIB, which bills itself as the state’s largest and leading small-business association, is a pit bull in standing up for Colorado mom ‘n’ pops. It usually leans right but isn’t shy about challenging others in the GOP camp — especially industry groups backed by big business — on fiscal and other issues.

Gagliardi also doesn’t mince words meting out criticism as well as praise in an NFIB press release that announced the grade report after the legislature adjourned Wednesday. And Gagliardi makes clear that, while B- isn’t bad, things could have been better:

“It would have been the greatest session of all had the Legislature piggybacked on the great regulatory and tax reforms coming out of Washington, D.C., but given the politically divided makeup of the House and Senate about all that could have been expected did materialize on a few issues.”

More to the point, he says, the Democratic-majority House dropped the ball and “fell back on business as usual” when it could have embraced some high-profile as well some obscure initiatives from the Republican-run Senate that would have been a boon to small biz.

Notably? The Senate Republicans’ Senate Bill 1 — reintroduced as Senate Bill 276 after it was killed off in March by House Democrats — would have given small businesses a timeout from fines for minor regulatory infractions if they correct the problems for which they were cited. SB 276 was itself throttled by Democrats in the same House committee in the closing days of the legislature.

There also was Senate Bill 181, which would have reined in damages awards for medical bills in lawsuits and, NFIB maintains, would have helped curb the health-care cost spiral for small businesses.

On the other hand, Gagliardi lauds three accomplishments of the legislature that he says amount to good news for “the mom-and-pop enterprises lining the Main Streets of Colorado”:

  • Small businesses will now be allowed a statewide tax credit that will refund personal property taxes paid by businesses to local governments on the first $18,000 worth of equipment that they own. The amount of the current exemption is $7,300.
  • The creation of a sales and use tax simplification task force (House Bill 1216) to study streamlining collection and reimbursement between the state and local governments, and between the state and home rule jurisdictions. Colorado is in the top four states in the country known for having the most complicated and inefficient sales tax collection and remittance process. …
  • A measure (Senate Bill 112) clarifying the General Assembly’s intent when it enacted a dispute resolution process in 1985 to address a situation when a taxpayer paid sales and use tax to one local government when it should have instead paid that disputed amount to a different local government. A recent court case applied the statute of limitations to this dispute resolution process, resulting in the taxpayer having to pay the disputed amount twice to two different local governments.

 

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