State director of business group gives session a B

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Tony Gagliardi
Tony Gagliardi, NFIB

Tony Gagliardi gives the Colorado Legislature better-than- average grades for a session that was, on the whole, less rancorous than average.

“I give this session a B. I thought there was some progress made,” said Gagliardi, the state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

That progress included small business-friendly measures to lower unemployment insurance premiums, train unemployed workers and waive a portion of the business personal property tax.

Still other legislation the NFIB opposed was killed during the session.

One measure that was enacted allows Colorado to sell bonds to repay money borrowed from the federal government to keep the unemployment insurance trust fund solvent. In the process, employers will enjoy lower unemployment insurance taxes  — perhaps as much as 30 percent lower, Gagliardi said.

Another measure extends for two years a program offering enhanced unemployment benefits for eligible unemployed workers involved in approved training programs. The program will earmark nearly $8 million in benefits for those undergoing training, including entrepreneurial training.

Over the past two years, about 2,500 unemployed workers took advantage of the program to receive training. Research shows that 76 percent of those completing training were successful in finding jobs, Gagliardi said.

Still another measure allows local and county governments to waive up to 100 percent of their shares of the business personal property tax on businesses expanding or relocating into their jurisdictions. Local governments previously could exempt up to 50 percent of their shares of the tax. The measure does not affect taxes collected by school districts.

Gagliardi said the legislation constitutes another step toward what’s long been a goal of small businesses and the NFIB in Colorado: the end of the business personal property tax.

The legislative session also was a success in terms of the defeat of several measures the NFIB opposed, Gagliardi said.

One measure would have granted bidding preferences to public works contractors that employ Colorado residents. Gagliardi said there were concerns contractors would face retribution in other states in which they conduct business had the measure passed.

Another measure would  have  prohibited employers from using credit report checks in screening job applicants. Gagliardi said pre-employment credit checks don’t reveal credit scores. However, a pattern of poor credit practices constitutes an important consideration in considering how a potential employee could perform on the job. Moreover, employers already offer prospective employees an opportunity to explain their credit reports, he said.

Another measure Gagliardi called “absolutely the worst bill of the session” would have make it easier for Colorado attorneys to force public disclosure of company documents in defective product lawsuits. The result could have been the disclosure of trade secrets and proprietary information, Gagliardi said.