Members of small business group oppose fracking ban

Tony Gagliardi
Tony Gagliardi

Members of a small business advocacy group responding to annual poll oppose prohibitions against the use of hydraulic fracturing in energy production in Colorado.

Members also oppose an increase in fuel taxes to pay for roads and bridges, an increase in the minimum cost of stop-loss insurance and any prohibitions against considering a job applicant’s criminal history until after the interview process.

“I expect the issue of criminal history and further attempts to impose restrictions on Colorado’s energy industry to surface when the Legislature sits down for business in January,” said Tony Gagliardi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Colorado.

The NFIB reported the preliminary results of ballots sent to its 7,500 members in Colorado. The group regularly polls its membership to determine lobbying positions on state and national issues.

“Extending the state’s sales tax to labor and services is a perennial discussion which now might be joined by a discussion regarding increasing either the fuel tax or sales tax. But the lopsided opposition to it from the people of Colorado needs to turn its economy around will have lawmakers taking notice,” Gagliardi added.

The NFIB posed four questions to members in its latest poll.

Asked if Colorado should impose prohibitions on the use of fracking technology in the development of energy resources, 82 percent of NFIB members responding to the poll answered no. Another 8 percent answered yes, while the remaining 10 percent were undecided.

Hydraulic fracturing — a process in which water, sand and chemicals are injected at high pressure into underground rock formations to increase oil and natural gas production — has gained attention in the aftermath of fracking bans on November election ballots in several Colorado communities.

The fracking issue is an important one, Gagliardi said, because it involves the development of energy resources upon which small businesses depend.

Asked if they’d support an increase in the fuel tax if it was less than

10 cents a gallon and used to pay for roads and bridges, 75 percent of NFIB members responding to the poll answered no, 19 percent said yes and 6 percent said they were undecided.

Gagliardi said the question was prompted by conversations he’s had with members concerned about the sustainability of funding to pay for transportation infrastructure.

Another question on the poll asked NFIB members if the minimum cost of stop-loss insurance should be increased from $20,000 for businesses that purchase high-deductible health insurance policies and self-insure to pay the deductibles. While 67 percent of members said no, 5 percent said yes and 28 percent were undecided.

Gagliardi said there have been concerns raised that an increase in the minimum amount of a claim a business must cover could in turn decrease options and ultimately reduce the number of small businesses that offer health care coverage to employees.

The fourth question on the poll concerned employment law and asked if employers should be prohibited from considering an applicant’s criminal history until after the interview process has been completed.

Gagliardi said the so-called “ban the box” issue has come up in other states prohibiting questions on job application forms about felony convictions.

In answering the question, 89 percent of NFIB members responding to the poll said no, 7 percent said yes and 4 percent were undecided.