Sausage factory ruins another good business measure

A famous quote attributed to German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck perhaps best describes the legislative process. “Laws are like sausages,” Bismarck supposedly said. “It’s better not to see them being made.”

Imagine then, the gruesome spectacles that must occur under the gold dome of the Colorado Capitol, where the process grinds even the most common-sense proposals into so much nasty looking meat. Take Senate Bill 1, for example.

Senate Bill 1 would have changed the tone of relationships between state agencies and small businesses. The measure required that when a state agency determined a small business had committed a minor violation of a rule, rather than impose a fine, the agency notified the business in writing and gave the business 30 days to cure the violation. The measure wouldn’t have applied to violations that threaten public health, but to minor violations that often occur inadvertently.

What could be more simple, yet more important in signalling Colorado is open for business and, in fact, appreciates small businesses and the jobs they provide?

It’s no small matter, either, because small businesses collectively constitute big business in Colorado. According to numbers compiled by the U.S. Small Business Administration, small firms account for nearly 98 percent of all employers in the state and have on their payrolls about 50 percent of the work force.

So what happened to Senate Bill 1? Democratic lawmakers killed the measure in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on a party line vote. The measure had already passed in the Senate with bipartisan support. Go figure.

Politicians love to tout their support for small businesses and what they describe as their dogged efforts to create jobs. It’s ridiculous, of course, because businesses create jobs, not politicians. Moreover, politicians seldom put their votes with their mouths are. What’s especially troublesome is that the same politicians who support economic development efforts that dangle all sorts of incentives in front of companies to lure then to Colorado won’t also support a simple measure that creates a more friendly and nurturing business environment.

Apparently, those politicians who voted to kill Senate Bill 1 would rather state agencies keep slapping small businesses with fines rather than working with them to ensure compliance. Maybe those politicians are more concerned with what they deem best for their party than what’s best for Colorado.

It’s something to keep in mind the next time election ballots arrive in the mail.