NFIB state director gives Legislature D for efforts

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Tony Gagliardi NFIB

If Tony Gagliardi were to assign a letter grade to the latest session of the Colorado Legislature, it would be a D. His marks would be even lower for the partisanship he said has replaced statesmanship.

“There’s no respect left,” said Gagliardi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Not for other lawmakers or the small business owners for which Gagliardi lobbies. There’s an assumption, he said, business owners are somehow bad and unwilling to do what’s in the best interests of their employees. “It’s disheartening in a way.”

Gagliardi reviewed what he deemed as the lowlights of the session as well as some highlights in a telephone interview with the Business Times.

The NFIB represents its small business members at all 50 state capitols as well as in Washington, D.C., in large part on the basis of the results of member surveys gauging their support or opposition to various measures. “We listen to our members,” Gagliardi said.

The highlights included the rejection of  House Bill 1118 and what was dubbed a “fair scheduling” measure that would have required retailers, restaurants and other businesses to provide work schedules 14 days in advance as well as predictability pay to compensate for shifts cancelled at the last minute.

Gagliardi said opposition to the measure included not only businesses, but also employees who wanted flexibility to change shifts at the last minute to accommodate medical appointments or their children’s school events.

The bill died on an 2-8 vote in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.

The NFIB also opposed other measures that were enacted during the latest session. They included Senate Bill 58, which will prohibit employers from inquiring on an initial employment application about a prospective employee’s age, date of birth or dates of attendance at or date of graduation from an educational institution. The law offer exemptions for requirements pertaining to public or occupational safety as well as federal, state and local laws.

Gagliardi called the measure “a solution looking for  a problem.” The NFIB asked Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to veto the bill, but he signed it into law on June 2.

Another measure, Senate Bill 303, that was enacted and signed into law intends to provide property tax relief, but also could end spending limits imposed under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment to the state constitution, Gagliardi said.

If voters approve Proposition HH on the November ballot, they might receive some money in property tax relief, but at the expense of revenue the state collects above the TABOR limit and is required to return, he said. “In 10 years, TABOR will be gone.”

The proposal would reduce property tax assessment rates, but also allow the state to raise the state revenue cap and keep additional revenue for 10 years. That money would go to local governments to reimburse them for lower property tax revenues.

Gagliardi said he was angered by the way Senate Bill 303 was rushed through at the end of the session when the governor should have stood up to his own caucus and called for a special session to deliberate the measure.