The Colorado General Assembly convened for the 2020 Legislative Session on Jan. 8, 2020. The General Assembly consists of 100 members – 35 Senators and 65 Representatives; 61 Democrats and 39 Republicans. Until May 6, 2020, the legislature will debate close to 500 bills that members have put forth thus far, which include several key issues affecting Colorado businesses.
Paid Family and Medical Leave
The debate on mandating paid family and medical leave will likely recur this session. The legislature fell just a few votes short last year of creating a state-run, employee- and employer-funded system to grant partially paid leave to workers needing time off to care for themselves or family members.
A task force, which includes many business leaders, has been coming up with recommendations during the off-season. The legislature will likely discuss multiple options proposed by this task force. One option would require employers to pay into a state-run system. Another is Governor Jared Polis’ suggestion of requiring employers to purchase special insurance, much as they do for workers’ compensation.
State-Funded Public Health Insurance
Polis’ administration proposed creating a public health-insurance option offering lower premiums by reducing reimbursement to providers. But Colorado businesses fear this could lead to hospitals increasing costs to individuals insured through employer plans if healthcare providers make less money from individual patients.
Sexual Harassment Legislation
Two items of sexual harassment legislation are expected to be debated. One is a push for more transparency in arbitration, while the other is an expansion of the definition of harassment in the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. The latter also pushes for undoing the cap on damages that can be assessed on small companies.
State-Run Retirement Savings System
Once again, Colorado legislators will put forth a plan for a state-run retirement savings system for workers of companies that don’t offer a retirement savings plan. Good Business Colorado has made the passage of such a bill a priority for this legislative session. Arguments in favor of this legislation are that it will help small businesses compete for job seekers on a more level playing field with large firms. However, business leaders opposing the plan argue that it would be an intrusion into the employer-employee relationship. They argue this will cost businesses administratively and still may not be popular among the workers it is trying to help.