Gagliardi preps small business troops for legislative battle

Author: John Tomasic - February 24, 2017 - Updated: February 24, 2017

Tony Gagliardi, Colorado director at the National Federation of Independent Business, taking in member comments, Feb. 24, 2017. (John Tomasic/The Colorado Statesman)
Tony Gagliardi, Colorado director at the National Federation of Independent Business, taking in member comments at the Capitol, Feb. 24, 2017. (John Tomasic/The Colorado Statesman)

Tony Gagliardi, head of the state’s small business caucus, sought to gird members for the long days and nights that lie just ahead at the Capitol, when battles over taxes, housing development laws and health care and regulatory reform heat up.

He was talking informally in a committee room on Friday before the legislative chambers got busy with the day’s work. It was one of meetings Gagliardi holds monthly for members of the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. He was upfront Friday about the fact that he had little information to impart — at least not any more information than many other Capitol watchers would have had to share at this point in the session.

“Affordable health care. I still don’t know what’s in store,” he said. “It’s all over the spectrum.”

He also seemed equivocal and slightly jaundiced on the ongoing negotiations over how to raise billions to make long-overdue transportation upgrades across the state. Lawmakers are considering sending a referendum to voters asking for resources to at least back a bonds plan.

“We opposed sales tax increases. We opposed the gas tax increase,” said Gagliardi. “We just don’t believe in a blank check. When they come out with a well-defined plan — this is what we’re asking for — when they come out with something specific and accountable, it will pass with the voters.”

He said the number of interested parties engaged in negotiations keeps growing.

“Now we have people pushing multimodal transportation — light rail, heavy rail, gondolas… They all want to be at the table, and the table is getting bigger and bigger, and it will be harder to come to consensus. This is going to take a lot of work.”

He turned to construction defects litigation reform, another high priority topic this session.

“Construction defects reform matters to our equipment lenders, our contractors,” he said. “We’re not building in the state, and if we’re not building, the state [economy] is not growing.”

Lawmakers are engaged in negotiations over how best to lower costs for condominium developers in the state. It’s a question that has stalled for years at the Capitol. They are working out how to lower the cost of litigation and insurance tied to construction defects lawsuits, on one hand, and the need to maintain protections for condo buyers from shoddy work, on the other.

A bipartisan bill on the topic has been introduced already this year. Gagliardi said he heard three related bills are in the works.

The annual small business lobby day at the Capitol is scheduled this year for March 16.

John Tomasic

John Tomasic

John Tomasic is a senior political reporter for The Colorado Statesman covering the Colorado Legislature.