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Colorado business group seeks input on lobbying

Tony Gagliardi

Tony Gagliardi

The answers to five questions posed to members of a small business advocacy organization in Colorado will determine how the group lobbies during the upcoming legislative session.

The questions deal with a range of issues, among them health care, immigration and taxes.

Tony Gagliardi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in Colorado, said the group bases its lobbying efforts on the results of ballots sent out each year to members.

That way, when Gagliardi tells lawmakers he’s speaking on behalf of members, that’s literally the case, he said. “It’s exactly that.”

The NFIB sends ballots to members by e-mail, fax and mail. In Colorado, members are usually quick to respond, Gagliardi said, adding that he should have results by early December.

This year’s ballot features questions about health care exchanges, immigration, the state budget and taxes — all issues Gagliardi said he expects to arise when the Colorado Legislature convenes in January.

The issues of most concern to the small business owners who belong to the NFIB transcend partisan politics, Gagliardi said, and relate to the conditions they face in running their operations.

Labor conditions will constitute another important issue since most state officials elected in November ran on platforms promising job creation in Colorado, he said.

It soon will be time for officials to start delivering on those promises, he added.

Besides setting priorities and positions for lobbying, results from member ballots give the NFIB a basis upon which to evaluate the performance of elected officials, Gagliardi said. “It’s important for elected officials to know that our evaluations of them are based upon results, not party. Our ballot results give them guideposts to follow and give us a start on grading their performance.”

In addition to meeting with state legislators, Gagliardi said he hopes to soon meet with the transition team helping John Hickenlooper prepare to begin his term as Colorado governor. Gagliardi said he hopes to “open that door” to establish an ongoing dialog between the NFIB and new administration.

Here are the five questions the National Federation of Independent Business has asked its Colorado members as part of an annual process to set lobbying positions:

Should Colorado impose penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants?

Should Colorado establish its own health insurance exchange or defer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services?

Should the Legislature repeal the state sales tax imposed on energy used in manufacturing?

Do you support legislation that provides tax incentives and the use of public monies for low-interest loans to promote economic development and job growth?

Should Colorado lease some functions of state government and form more public/private partnerships to create greater efficiencies and reduce state expenditures?

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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