Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 7, 20188min2268

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.”


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 11, 20172min748

As the state’s chamber of commerce, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry is a voice for the state’s business community, a mover and shaker at the Capitol and a catalyst for civic action. It’s also a convener at large in state politics, bringing together top elected officials as well as hopefuls for public office to talk about the issues of the day.

An example is a panel it hosted in August, drawing most of Colorado’s Washington delegation to brief business leaders in Denver. And January 25, it will conduct a forum at which candidates for governor in the 2018 race are scheduled to make their case to CACI’s influential audience.

As reported in a CACI press release the other day, seven gubernatorial hopefuls of both parties already have agreed to join the dais for the event: Republican Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Democratic businessman Noel Ginsberg, Democratic Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, Republican investment banker Doug Robinson, Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Republican provocateur and former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo. Still pending are Democratic former state Sen. Michael Johnston, Democratic former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Republican entrepreneur Victor Mitchell.

Colorado’s key influencers — as well as its political junkies — won’t be able to resist this event, moderated by Denver CBS4’s Shaun Boyd. Want to attend, or even help sponsor the gathering? You can start by clicking here.


Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandOctober 12, 20178min632
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 […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 12, 20173min1097

Prominent and politically plugged-in Denver attorney Jon Anderson was elected 2017-18 chair today by the Board of Directors at the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. Anderson, a partner at prestigious law firm Holland and Hart who once served as chief counsel to then-Gov. Bill Owens, long has been a go-to guy in state Republican circles.

The association — “CACI” to its friends — is Colorado’s de facto chamber of commerce and the voice of the state’s biggest and most prominent businesses. An e-announcement about Anderson’s election quotes him regarding the organization’s role in the business climate:

“CACI has led the effort to establish Colorado as a pro-business state. … Colorado has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and is enjoying a thriving economy because of this focused effort to grow and expand our state economy. Colorado’s next challenge will be to ensure that state and local leaders do not take our thriving economy for granted.”

Anderson added a cautionary note: “Colorado has experienced a recent surge in legislation, ballot measures and policies that would hamper and harm Colorado businesses and Colorado workers.”

Longtime CACI President (and onetime state House Speaker) Chuck Berry weighed in:

“Jon has a keen sense of advocating for business interests in the public arena and he is an ideal person to lead our Board in these challenging times.”

Among the strong suits making him that ideal person:

Anderson’s political and election law practice includes representing corporations, non-profits, and candidates on federal, state, and local activities. In the current election cycle, Anderson represents members of the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, a U.S. presidential campaign, non-profit organizations and multiple Super PACs and 527 committees. …

… Anderson’s government practice is focused on high stakes matters before federal, state and local government. …

CACI’s board meanwhile also chose Rhonda Sparlin, a partner at RubinBrown LLP, as chair-elect, and elected several new board members. Here are details on those and other developments at CACI.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 7, 20178min407

Loren Furman is one of the Colorado business community’s most influential voices. Not the kind of voice that publicly trumpets business interests from the tops of Denver’s tallest skyscrapers; she’s the kind who quietly promotes those interests deep in the corridors of power at Colorado’s Capitol and beyond. As senior vice president of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry — the state’s chamber of commerce — Furman is also its chief lobbyist. Ah, there’s the L-word. Everyone thinks they know what it means to be a lobbyist, but they’re often wrong. Furman enlightens us in today’s Q&A.

First, a little more on her background: Before joining CACI in 2008, she served as legislative director for the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration and worked with the Governor’s Office and General Assembly on state workforce issues.  She previously lobbied wide-ranging policy issues at the legislature in her native Florida, where prior to that she worked for the Majority Office of the Florida House of Representatives. Furman, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Florida State University, was named one of “Colorado’s Most Influential Women: Up and Coming by the Denver Post in 2012

Colorado Politics: Your duties include serving as the chief lobbyist for the state’s largest, most wide-ranging business association — representing, as CACI’s mission statement puts it, “all sizes of business from a statewide, multi-industry perspective.” What are some of the challenges representing such diverse interests that sometimes may conflict with one another?

Loren Furman: You’ve identified one of the biggest but most fulfilling challenges in my role.  I truly enjoy managing the priorities of our diverse members, and found that where there is conflict, it can often be resolved.  Over the years, we have developed long-standing legislative and regulatory policy solutions that would not have evolved without our members’ expertise and willingness to talk to each other.

CP: Especially outside politics, “lobbyist” carries a stigma as well as an aura of extraordinary influence. Are both fair? Do both miss the mark?

LF: Just last week my dentist asked me what I did for a living and subsequently said, “Wow, that must mean that you attend a lot of dinners and parties!” My colleagues would empathize with my curt response to someone gouging my mouth with steel instruments while undermining our profession. I believe there is still a great deal of misunderstanding and ignorance about the role of a lobbyist. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that will change much over time.

CP: As a voice for business, CACI is perceived as leaning right of center, and its leadership is more red than blue by background. Yet, you obviously have to work both sides of the aisle and with governors of both parties. What is your message to Democrats as to why they should value your input on legislation as well as broader policy initiatives?

LF: Over the years, we’ve seen legislation introduced by certain legislators that would have driven up huge costs and administrative burdens on our state’s economic producers.  Those proposals have an adverse impact on the very people — the workers — that those legislators want to protect.  It has taken years, but we’ve been successful in reinforcing the message that Colorado businesses need to thrive so that their workers can thrive.  Adopting policies that increase costs or create a wedge in the worker-employer relationship are counterintuitive.  That’s a message we’ll continue to reinforce with legislators on both sides of the aisle.

CP: Where did you grow up, and what do you miss most about it?

LF: As a 70’s offspring of hippie parents who raised me in the Florida Keys, you can imagine my wacky and weird childhood experiences. What do I miss?  The crystal-clear, beautiful blue water of the Keys and the quirky, laid-back personalities that you’ll only find in the Conch Republic!  What don’t I miss?  The snakes, flying bugs, humidity and various other creatures that invade the Florida Keys — all of which helped me develop my lobbying survival skills!  Despite my strong Florida roots and love for southern food, Colorado is a beautiful place to live and a state I proudly call my home.

CP: As a college freshman, did you think you eventually would become a power lobbyist or be involved in politics at all? If not, what did you envision at that age?

LF: Ha!  As a college freshman at Florida State University, my only focus was finding the next house party and surviving on $20 a week!  I certainly didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. My involvement in politics came from living in Tallahassee (Florida’s capital) and being exposed to the Florida political scene.  As a staffer in the Florida Legislature in one of the most political offices, I immediately loved the process and the ability to influence the outcome of a bill.  That was the start that I needed, and one that prepared me for a career that is the most fun imaginable! 

CP: What do you like most about working in politics in Colorado?

LF: Many things!  Having a role in how legislation ultimately becomes law and working with state leaders and my colleagues in that process is an exceptional experience. There is a huge misperception that politics is conducted in smoke-filled back rooms. This job involves incredibly hard work and very talented people.  Working in the political process and with those individuals make this business beyond rewarding.

CP: Do you see our perennially purple state staying that way — or trending eventually toward one end of the political spectrum?

LF: Since moving to Colorado in 2005, I’m fascinated by the significant change in the state’s political spectrum from deep red to now purple, and the little-to-no-change over the last 10 years.  Unless we see a surge of new residents move to Colorado from more conservative states, I expect Colorado will stay in the purplish hue or could potentially see a shift to a blue state depending on the next presidential election.



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 9, 20174min437

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.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 18, 201728min437

So, seven members of Congress walk into a luncheon with a bunch of business bigwigs and …

… Well, we’ll be able to finish that joke after we find out if all the “invited panelists” — Colorado’s seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives — actually show up for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry’s biennial Congressional Luncheon in Denver on Aug. 9.

Never mind the basic logistics of trying to coordinate all seven of their schedules to seat them on one dais at the same event, a challenge under the best of circumstances. The unusual dynamics of 2017 could make it an even taller task this time around. And for those who do show, there’ll be plenty to talk about.

Of course, some members of Colorado’s congressional delegation probably will welcome the extra exposure of a sit-down with the state’s business titans. Seventh Congressional District Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, for example; he’s all in for the 2018 governor’s race. And Second District Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis might be up for the event, too; he told’s Peter Marcus last month he is “going to be deciding in the next month or two whether or not to launch a statewide race for governor.” (And why not? He’s the guy whose congressional campaign slogan is, “Dream. Dare. Do.”)

Meanwhile, 4th Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Buck has a new book to pitch, so perhaps CACI also can count on him.

On the other hand, there’s Sixth Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who has been caught for months between a Trump and a hard place, hounded by the press as well as political adversaries for his take on the latest policy shift / mood swing / outburst by his own party’s president. Coffman’s probably not crazy about the prospect of being ambushed yet again in a public venue by a vocal mob — constituents? activists? Democratic operatives? — challenging him on repealing and replacing Obamacare. The same might be said for Third Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton. Or maybe not?

But enough of our speculation. What do we know? We certainly wish CACI the best in convening the panel and of course look forward to it. Just sayin’ it’s an odd year, and not just numerically.

Here are details of the event, including how to sign up:

2017 Congressional Luncheon 
Third Biennial  
Invited Panelists
Ken Buck
Mike Coffman
Diana DeGette
Doug Lamborn
Ed Perlmutter
Jared Polis
Scott Tipton


 Investment $5,500
  • Prominent logo recognition in PowerPoint presentation during luncheon
  • One table of ten at luncheon, preferred seating after Presenting Sponsor
  • Opportunity for Member of Congress or Staffer seated at your table
  • Verbal recognition at event
  • Recognition in The CACI Capitol Report
  • Logo Recognition on CACI Website on Events Page
  • Logo on invitations (2,500 impressions)
  • Logo in programs (400 impressions)


 Investment $2,950
  • Recognition in PowerPoint presentation during luncheon
  • One table of ten at luncheon, preferred seating after Supporting Sponsor
  • Opportunity for Congressional Staffer seated at your table
  • Recognition on CACI Website on Events Page
  • Logo on invitations (2,500 impressions)
  • Logo in programs (400 impressions)

Corporate Table: Click here

CACI Member $1,500
Potential Member $2,500

Individual: Click here
CACI Member $150
Potential Member $250

For sponsorship inquires, please contact Tricia Smith
Senior Vice President, Events and Political Fundraising


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center
650 15th St, Denver, CO


Registration & Networking:

11:15 a.m.- Noon

Luncheon Program:

 Noon- 1:30 p.m.

Quick Links
Stay Connected

Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn

1Regents debate.jpg

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 4, 20172min425

The House approved a bipartisan plan Wednesday to extend and expand incentives for investment in new tech ventures in Colorado. Startups that would benefit include bioscience, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, energy, electronics, engineering and information technology businesses.

Under House Bill 1090, the current tax credit of up to $50,000 for investing in a tech startup through the end of this year would be extended through 2022. And the current $750,000 cap for total tax credits granted in any year under the program would be doubled to $1.5 million.

The measure is sponsored in the House by state Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, and Jim Wilson, R-Salida.

Headache relief for Colorado small businesses …

A press statement by House Democrats says the tax credit already has created “nearly 700 good-paying jobs at Colorado high-tech startup companies since 2014.” The press release quotes Kraft-Tharp:

“Access to seed capital is one of the key challenges facing early-stage companies. … This bill reduces risks to investors and draws additional investment dollars to Colorado’s emerging high-tech economy.”

The proposal passed the House 43-20, with eight Republicans in tow. The GOP is generally less keen on government-directed economic incentives like tax credits, but the Republican-leaning Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry endorsed the bill early on.

HB 1090 now heads to the Republican-run Senate.