Small business advocate worried about big business influence

Tony Gagliardi
Tony Gagliardi

Phil Castle, The Business Times

The leader of a small business advocacy group in Colorado says he’s worried about what he observed at the Capitol during the latest legislative session: a growing deference to the interests of big business and less concern about  the needs of small firms.

“Yes, we definitely had that feeling,” said Tony Gagliardi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Gagliardi will review the session and discuss the effects of new state laws on small businesses during a free presentation scheduled for June 3 in Grand Junction. The event is set for 8 to 11 a.m. at the City Hall auditorium, 250 N. Fifth St.

Gagliardi said he’s invited local lawmakers to attend the presentation and offer their perspectives as well.

Gagliardi gave the 2014 session average marks — better than the 2013 session and less contentious, he said.

Gagliardi said he was concerned, though, the interests of big businesses seemed to garner more attention than those of small businesses. On some measures, representatives of large businesses were involved in discussing legislation while the NFIB was excluded.

At the same time, Gagliardi said he was pleased with passage of a business personal property tax measure which, if signed into law, will create a tax credit for businesses with between $7,001 and $15,000 worth of equipment worth the full cost of that property tax. Companies with $7,000 or less of such property already are granted an exemption from paying the tax. 

Other legislation intended to crack down on employers who don’t pay the full wages and benefits owed to employers was amended before it was enacted to make it “not so bad,” Gagliardi said. The changes removed criminal penalties and focused the legislation on businesses that knowingly hold back earnings from their workers, rather than those that do so inadvertently.