Guv signs bill in favor of small-business employees

DENVER — Thanks to the marathon floor and committee sessions state legislators have had in recent weeks, the finish line to the end of this year’s session is finally in sight.

Only a handful of measures remain, a few of which are still somewhat controversial, such as measures to regulate the recreational use of marijuana as called for under Amendment 64.

One controversial measure was signed Monday by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

That bill, HB1136, allows employees in small businesses to file discrimination lawsuits against their employers, something workers in larger companies already can do.

While Hickenlooper said he understands concerns from some in the business community that the bill could lead to frivolous lawsuits, he believes the measure has sufficient guardrails to prevent that, such as limiting how much in damages employees can receive.

“Colorado law already prohibits small business employers from engaging in unfair employment or discriminatory practices, but employees who are victimized by these practices can see only job reinstatement and back pay for their claims,” Hickenlooper said in a signing statement on the measure.

“(The bill) expands available remedies for workers to recover compensatory and punitive damages from employers who have intentionally engages in discriminatory practices.”

Other measures that got final approval Monday in the House include:

■ SB245, Sen. Steve King’s measure to create an air fleet to battle forest fires, though it still has no funding.

■ SB241, sponsored by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, to regulate growing and selling hemp, which was approved by Colorado voters last fall under Amendment 64, the ballot question that legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

■ SB250, which is designed to allow nonviolent felons convicted on drug charges to have their felonies erased if they get treatment and stay out of trouble.



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