Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 7, 20188min2140

A Democrat-led House committee gave another celebrated approval — along party lines — for a proposed family and medical leave insurance program for Colorado.

Democrats passed a leave bill out of the House last year (without a single GOP) vote last year, and it was quickly squashed by the Republican majority in the Senate, at is it’s likely to again this year.

Employees would be required pay in less than 1 percent of their salaries annually to be insured against having to take time off to take care of a family member for up to 12 weeks. To create a broad enough pool to keep costs low, everyone would have to pay in, even if even if their employer already offers medical leave.

The program would increase labor force participation, especially for women who make up most household breadwinners. For young families, family leave gives mothers time to heal and bond with their child, as well breastfeed, which has benefits, witnesses told the committee.

Leave also could ultimately decrease the number of people forced leave the workforce or rely on taxpayer-supported programs, including putting loved ones in nursing homes, proponents said Tuesday.

House Democrats designated it as their top priority and made it the first bill introduced in the chamber this session, House Bill 1001. Such measures are a high-priority for Democrats nationally to sustain or build on the  #MeToo momentum of female and lower-income voters this fall, in response to Republican leadership in Washington.

One of the bill’s sponsors is Rep. Faith Winter of Westminster, who is challenging Republican incumbent Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton in the north metro district that could, ultimately, decide whether the GOP retains its one-seat majority in the upper chamber. Democrats have a nine-seat edge in the House. Winter carried the bill last year, as well.

Near the end of the four-hour hearing Tuesday, committee member Alec Garnett, D-Denver, said he wished a solution was a bipartisan goal, short of changing the majorities in the next election.

“I wish this wasn’t partisan,” he said. “I wish we didn’t have to wait for a moment in time where we reshuffle the board and see if this can pass next year.”

Rep. Lang Sias, R-Arvada, said there are bipartisan ideas, perhaps that could be considered this session, but they do not create “a government behemoth” insurance program. Rep. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction, said lots of small businesses already offer leave programs. He preferred that such an individualized approach for busienesses, “rather than the government mandating a one-size-fits-all program.”

Colorado Democrats, however, have at least one Republican in their corner. President Trump called for a federal program (paid for by the government) in his State of the Union address last week. He called it “an investment in America’s working families.”

If a federal program came about, the state program would unwind.

“I would be happy to have that problem,” another of the Colorado bill’s Democratic sponsors, Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, told the committee.

Chambers of commerce and most other business groups oppose the bill, said it would make Colorado less attractive to employers. Small businesses would face a new level of record keeping and regulatory compliance, businesses representatives told the committee.

Loren Furman, the senior vice president of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the state’s chamber of commerce, said a survey of members found many different kinds of leave programs appropriate for each business and its employees.

“Each employee’s situation is going to be different,” she said. “The best solution we see is working with those employees and seeing how we can meet those needs, based on the business that they operate (in).”

Small businesses would struggle to find skilled temporary employees for three months who would expect to have a job with the employee on leave returns, Furman. That labor force might not be available, and that could have a detrimental impact on some small companies, she warned.

Five states have implemented similar insurance programs: New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, California and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, pointed to an analysis by a conservative economist showing Colorado with a much more attractive job market than some of those states.

“Why would Colorado want to move in the direction of New York and New Jersey, when this would hurt the very people it’s meant to help” if there are fewer jobs, he said. “Why would we want to move toward the bottom rather than stay near the top?”

Winter argued that the employee-funded program is good for businesses, because it retains good employees who can return to work rather than quit to take care of a family member.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Rhonda Fields of Aurora and Kerry Donovan of Vail.

Donovan told a lunchtime rally for the bill on the Capitol steps that in the rural communities in the seven mountain counties she represents, if a person has to leave a job for a temporary family priority such as an infant or a sick family member, returning to the workforce is no guarantee, and it might mean a family has to move away to find work.

“It isn’t always an option to find another employment opportunity in a small town,” she said. “Having lost a job means you’re moving to a different community, and the impact that has on a family is self-explanatory.”

Fields promised a fight for the bill looming in the GOP-led Senate.

“I am ready to take this bill on in the state Senate,” she said to cheers at the rally. “When it comes us (Democrats) we’re going to fight for it. There are people in the building behind me who do not want to see this bill pass. They don’t want to provide benefits of paid family leave insurance to all people who live in the state of Colorado. But I do. They need to hear from us.”


Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandOctober 12, 20178min566
The increasingly polarized political dialogue in the United States is due, at least in part, to Russian manipulation of social issues, according to two national security experts who visited Denver Thursday. The panel on cybersecurity took place during a luncheon hosted by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the state’s chamber of commerce. It […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 19, 20173min199

The state’s chamber of commerce and statewide voice of Colorado Business, the Colorado Association of of Commerce and Industry, offers a worthy complement to’s own news coverage of legislative and court actions to rein in the litigation that is believed to have constricted the state’s housing stock.

As our Joey Bunch pointed out in a particularly insightful “Insights” column the other day, heralded legislation passed in the 2017 session, as well as a key ruling earlier this month by the Colorado Supreme Court, hold the promise of encouraging Colorado builders to get back in the game with the construction of more affordable condos — but there are no guarantees.

The basic calculus of those who have been pushing for reform for years is that by reducing the likelihood of lawsuits by homeowners associations against builders over construction defects — routing the parties instead toward less costly arbitration to fix flaws — builders’ insurance premiums will fall. That is supposed to coax the builders back into the market for new condos and townhomes that appeal to first-time buyers and those of modest means.

All of which could mean a badly needed infusion of affordable housing after years of soaring real estate prices. So, will it actually work out that way?

A lot of dots have to be connected for that to happen, and CACI’s latest Capitol Report newsletter seems to acknowledge as much:

The effect of HB-1279 and the Court’s ruling on the construction of new condos will take time to determine.

First, however, will insurers reduce policy premiums enough to persuade developers that it is worth taking the risk to build condos again?

Whether or not developers then convert existing apartments to condos or planned apartment projects to condo projects or launch new condo projects will be the intense focus of public officials at state and local government levels, the business community and prospective homeowners.

CACI and the rest of us will be watching.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 9, 20174min342

A leading voice of Colorado business statewide, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, pretty reliably leans Republican on most of its policy stances even as it tries to maintain good relations with both parties at the statehouse. But there’s one issue — international trade — that divides the GOP itself in the era of Donald Trump. And CACI seems to be doing its level best to influence that ongoing debate with input from the businesses that create most Colorado jobs.

The freshman Republican president’s heartburn over free trade, and standing trade agreements in particular, are well-established. Yet, the business world’s reliance on overseas markets has been a cornerstone of the GOP’s economic vision for generations.

Hence, a case of the jitters among business types following the president’s declaration last month he is renegotiating 1994’s landmark North American Free Trade Agreement. That’s the trilateral pact that opened up Canadian and Mexican markets to U.S. goods, including agriculture. Vice-versa, as well, of course. Colorado commerce has benefited, too.

Today, CACI’s weekly e-newsletter to its many members around Colorado included this message:

CACI is asking our members to add comments to the official request for comment from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) who will be submitting recommendations to President Trump for areas of NAFTA to negotiate.  Because many CACI members and the Colorado economy rely on our trade partners in Canada and Mexico, we encourage you to share formal or informal comments with the USTR about why these trade relationships are essential to your business.

Diplomatic but clear enough; the business community is worried. This appears to be one area where business and the administration are at loggerheads, at least, for now.

Some Republicans in Congress — still wary of crossing their theoretical party leader for all the usual political reasons — nevertheless have spoken up for free trade as well. Last month, Colorado’s junior Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner voted against confirming Trump’s pick for U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, who is a longtime critic of free trade.

Gardner issued a statement contending Lighthizer’s policies, “could hurt Colorado’s farmers and ranchers.”

The administration had that one in the bag, though; Lighthizer was confirmed by overwhelming majorities of both parties despite Gardner’s vote. There’s no suggestion Gardner’s stance has hurt his standing with the president, with whom he votes most of the time.

Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsJanuary 17, 201720min292



DENVER — Welcome to the 7th day of the 71st General Assembly, and what many would call the first day of real work (OK, we aren’t talking about you, Joint Budget Committee members. Relax).

Lots of characters and news in Colorado politics to talk about this Tuesday. Will Colorado Congress members attend the Trump inaugural festivities? If so, which ones? Former House GOP Chief of Staff Bill Skewes found a new job, Mike Coffman remains in the Democratic Party’s crosshairs (you don’t say!?), state Rep. Joe Salazar is going after his own, Mike Johnston wants to be governor like everybody else and so much more … like, for instance a Council member saying the best way to change the law is to disobey it. Well yes, but Hot Sheet advice: Just make sure you have friends that feel the same way!

All you have to do this morning is sit back and read for your daily education in all things Colorado politics. You like how we made it easy like that? Yeah, we thought so.

News from The Colorado Statesman

‘It’s going to be interesting’: State Senate prepping for Hickenlooper PUC appointment confirmations

Democrats, GOP remember Dr. King

While not a Trump fan, Gardner impressed by Tillerson

Tipton: Congress now has a higher authority to stop overregulation

In Today’s Hot Sheet

Bill Skewes gainfully employed again

Matt Arnold still causing hate and discontent. This time, at Tim Dore’s expense, but who’s watching the watchdog?

Tipton takes resources committee seat

Tim Dore gets fined $2,000 for campaign finance violation

Mike Johnston announces for Colorado governor

Who’s more progressive? Joe Salazar goes after his own


The First Shot

“I’m willing to offer this generous deal in the interest of avoiding disruption to what is, after all, MY party — albeit a party that has proven less than faithful in fulfilling its obligations to me and mine — in a critical election year.”

—  Purported to be Matt Arnold, the director of Campaign Integrity Watchdog

The Hudson Firm

The Hot Sheet Flame

Colorado Government

Straight outta #copolitics: Did Coffman duck out early as constituents grew ornery?

Unhappy crowd shows up at Mike Coffman’s regular meeting with constituents

Straight outta #copolitics, part 2: @TeamCoffman2016’s rebuttal

FAKE OUTRAGE: Activists Swarm Coffman at District Meet and Greet

Colo. Senators Gardner, Bennet prepare for upcoming struggle over Affordable Care Act

Energized Democrats in Colorado push back against Republican repeal of health care law

Denver Mayor Hancock names Happy Haynes as new deputy mayor

New poll finds large increase in support for government-backed health care coverage over past year

Ahead of Lafayette’s climate bill vote, backers affirm resistance to fracking

Colorado Union of Taxpayers to laud pennywise lawmakers at breakfast Thursday


The Hot Sheet Flame

The General Assembly

Caucus leaders take different routes to find common ground on transportation

Colorado lawmakers hope to find bipartisan solution to reform construction defect law

EDITORIAL:  Colorado ethics commission got it wrong with legal interpretation

Rep. Joe Salazar does media’s job, questions Bennet’s vote on Canadian drugs

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN: Tipton Takes Resources Committee Seat


The Hot Sheet Flame

Politics in Colorado


All four of Colorado’s Congressional Democrats say they will attend Trump’s inauguration

Will Colorado’s U.S. representatives attend Donald Trump’s inauguration?

Democrat Mike Johnston to announce run for Colorado governor in 2018

State Senate’s Johnston of Denver enters a growing field of gubernatorial hopefuls

Michael Johnston, leading education reformer, set to announce bid for governor Tuesday

Colorado Democratic primary starts early with Johnston entry

Stay Classy, Tom Tancredo (ISIS Bro Edition)

House GOP’s loss is CACI’s gain: Bill Skewes goes to bat for biz community

Former Rep. Tim Dore fined $2,000 for mistakes on campaign finance reports

Indy reporter Marianne Goodland on Sunday’s Politics Unplugged


The Hot Sheet Flame

Just for laughs


The Hot Sheet Flame


January 17th

High Country Republican Club Meeting

Weld Exec Committee Meeting

January 18th

Larimer County Young Republicans

Jewish GOP of Denver

January 19th

Steel City Republican Women

Douglas County Young Republicans Social

Huerfano Dems Central Committee Meeting

ACDP Executive Board Regular Meeting

January 20th

2017 United States Presidential Inauguration

Lincoln Club of Colorado sponsoring Inaugural Ball

Mesa County Repubican Party-Monthly Luncheon

January 21st

Adams County Republican Women/Trumpeteers

Women’s March on Denver

The Hot Sheet Flame

Today in history

2007 – The Doomsday Clock is set to five minutes to midnight in response to North Korea’s nuclear testing.

1998 – Lewinsky scandal: Matt Drudge breaks the story of the Bill Clinton–Monica Lewinsky affair on his Drudge Report website.

1991 – Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm begins early in the morning. Iraq fires eight Scud missiles into Israel in an unsuccessful bid to provoke Israeli retaliation.

1969 – Black Panther Party members Bunchy Carter and John Huggins are killed during a meeting in Campbell Hall on the campus of UCLA.

1961 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers a televised farewell address to the nation three days before leaving office, in which he warns against the accumulation of power by the “military–industrial complex” as well as the dangers of massive spending, especially deficit spending.

1946 – The UN Security Council holds its first session.

1929 – Popeye the Sailor Man, a cartoon character created by E. C. Segar, first appears in the Thimble Theatre comic strip.

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