Analysis of laws’ effects on business shot down

DENVER — Democrats on a Senate panel Wednesday snubbed a call by Gov. John Hickenlooper to gauge the potential impact legislative bills have on businesses and their ability to create jobs.

The three Democrats on the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee outvoted the two Republicans on the panel in rejecting a measure that would have required statements of the cost or regulatory impact that introduced bills might have on business.

In his first State of the State speech in January, the Democratic governor called for “regulatory-impact statements” to help legislators know what impact laws they consider might have on jobs and the economy.

It was the part of Hickenlooper’s address the Republicans said they liked the most.

“That’s what Senate Bill 116 is, a pro-jobs measure, a good-government measure, something to let us consider the impact of our actions,” Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, told the committee. “It was an idea that came from Gov. Hickenlooper. Interestingly, President of the Senate Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) sent this business-cost measure to the Senate State Affairs Committee, where I have little doubt of the outcome.”

Like the committee that bears the same name in the House, the Senate State Affairs Committee has long been the panel that leadership, regardless of which party is in control, sends bills it doesn’t like.

Currently, all introduced bills require a fiscal-impact statement before they have their first committee hearing. But those statements have been criticized in recent years because they only look at the potential cost to the state, either in increased expenditures or a loss in state revenues.

According to the fiscal-impact statement on Mitchell’s measure, SB116 would cost about $400,000 a year and require hiring six new employees.

The same legislative agency that would do the business statements and hire those new workers, Legislative Council, is the same agency that writes the fiscal notes.

Regardless, Democrats on the committee said it is reasonable to expect the additional statements would require more state workers, something they couldn’t justify at a time when the state is facing millions of dollars in budget cuts.

In related news, the committee also killed two nonbinding resolutions introduced by Republican senators. One would have called for a general opposition to tax increases. The other would have called on Congress to convene a constitutional convention to pass a federal balanced-budget amendment.

Like Mitchell’s bill, those two measures died on 3–2 party-line votes.


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