Regulatory-impact measure dies on party-line vote

DENVER — To be optimistic enough to create jobs and improve the economy, businesses need to have more certainty in what government asks of them.

That’s why business advocate groups asked the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee to approve HB1069 on Tuesday.

That measure would have required the Legislature’s non-partisan staff to analyze the potential regulatory impact bills lawmakers consider during the session might have on businesses.

Doing so could reduce the chances of any unintended consequences new laws could have on businesses, and how it might impact their ability to hire new employees or keep existing ones.

“In 2008, the Small Business Administration released a study of the fiscal effect of regulations and the regulatory process, and they determined that it was a $1.75 trillion cost to American industry,” Tony Gagliardi, executive director of the Colorado chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. told the committee. “The cost to small business and the effect to all business is often overlooked when regulatory policy is passed or changed. House Bill 1069 is a message to Colorado job creators that the state cares about the challenges Main Street faces.”

While the Democratic members of the 11-member committee said they agree it’s helpful to understand the impact any piece of legislation has, this bill wouldn’t help. As a result, Democrats killed it on a 6-5 party-line vote, saying businesses have numerous avenues to make their opinions known about bills before the Legislature.

“Currently, a small business can work through a variety of different organizations (and) they can contact each one of us as legislators,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, whose district includes part of Delta County. “I represent Hotchkiss so I would want my constituents in Hotchkiss to contact me ... if they have concerns about upcoming legislation.”

Under current law, all bills introduced into the Legislature are required to be reviewed by a fiscal analyst on the Colorado Legislative Council staff.

But those analyses only gauge the cost to state government in actual dollars.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff, R-Pueblo, and Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, called for adding a half-time position to the council staff to handle the extra workload, at a cost of about $33,000 a year. Democrats rejected an amendment that would have done away with that cost, and have the staff create a special website where business owners could send messages about pending legislation.

Democrats said such online comments wouldn’t help.

A similar bill died in the Senate last week.

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