What began as a heralded Republican bill to ease the regulatory burden on small business — launched amid fanfare in the GOP-ruled state Senate at the start of the 2017 session — died quietly in a committee of the Democratic-run House on Thursday.
Senate Bill 1 would have given small businesses a month to fix minor breaches of state regs before fines were levied. The bill would have defined a small business as one of fewer than 500 employees, and provided leniency for minor, first-time violations of state agency rules except rules pertaining to safety.
The measure was sponsored by the father-son tag team of Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, in the upper chamber and, in the lower chamber, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock.
Despite the junior Neville’s standing in the House minority leadership, majority Democrats on the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee killed SB 1 on a party-line vote without much debate.
Republicans afterward bemoaned the bill’s demise in a press statement issued by the House GOP:
“This bill would have shifted the culture of government to one of cooperation with the private sector and helped achieve a high-level of compliance through education rather than fines and penalties,” said (Patrick) Neville. “This bill passed with strong bipartisan support in the Senate, but unfortunately Democrats that support small business seem to be in short supply in the House.”
Why was Democratic support for the bill so scarce in the lower chamber? The Denver Business Journal’s Capitol ace Ed Sealover reports today that, “…Democrats on the House committee that killed it spoke as if they were just waiting to substitute a proposal of their own in its place.”
And sure enough, Sealover confirmed:
Several lobbyists said they have seen copies of a regulatory reform bill that (Democratic state Rep. Tracy) Kraft-Tharp will introduce soon.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; under the Capitol dome, it’s also business as usual.