Small business group polls members on state issues

Tony Gagliardi
Tony Gagliardi

Phil Castle, The Business Times

The answers to four 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, including fuel taxes, health insurance, employment law and hydraulic fracturing.

The National Federation of Independent Business sends separate ballots to members each year asking for their opinions on state and national issues. The results — along with special fax polls and visits to small businesses throughout the year — help determine the group’s lobbying positions in Denver and Washington, D.C. The NFIB has 7,500 members in Colorado.

The first question on the Colorado ballot asks members whether or not they’d support an increase in fuel taxes to help pay for roads and bridges. Tony Gagliardi, state director of the NFIB, said the question was prompted by conversations he’s had with members about the sustainability of funding to pay for transportation infrastructure.

The second question asks members if the minimum cost of stop-loss insurance should be increased from the current level of $20,000 for businesses that purchase high-deductible health insurance policies and self-insure to pay the deductibles.

Gagliardi said there are concerns 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. “It would take a choice away.”

The third question deals with employment law and asks members if employers should be prohibited from considering a job applicant’s criminal history until after the interview process has been completed.

Gagliardi said the “ban the box” issue has come up in other states in prohibiting questions on job application forms about felony convictions. The issue could come up in the legislative session in Colorado as well, he said.

The concern is that further restrictions could hamper the ability of small business owner to make hiring decisions, he said.

The fourth question asks NFIB members in Colorado whether the state should impose prohibitions on the use of hydraulic fracturing in oil and natural gas production.

Gagliardi said the fracking issue has come to the forefront in the aftermath of fracking bans on November election ballots. The issue is an important one, Gagliardi said, because it involves the future development of the energy resources upon which small businesses depend.