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Colorado Employer Update: 2018 Legislative Session in Review

The latest session of the Colorado General Assembly has moved from the newspaper to the history books, and the Governor has signed many bills into law. While many bills of interest to Colorado employers failed to pass—like laws regarding family/medical leave or making it illegal to ask job applicants for salary history—this past legislative session generated some bills of interest to businesses and employers in Colorado. This post outlines some of the new laws for Colorado employers and business owners to be aware of, provides a summary, and links to resources for readers to learn more.

Sunset Continue Civil Rights Division and Commission: HB18-1256

Perhaps one of the most important bills passed this session was the reauthorization of the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The CCRD is the state agency charged with enforcing Colorado’s state laws that outlaw discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The Civil Rights Commission is a board tasked with conducting hearings regarding discriminatory practices and reviewing appeals of cases the CCRD has investigated. The bill came up this session because the CCRD and the Commission were up for a sunset review—meaning that the legislature needed to continue the Commission and the CCRD and their respective functions, or the agency would cease to exist.

This bill received a lot of attention this session, particularly in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case currently pending before the Supreme Court. In that case, the Commission ruled against a bakery owner who declined to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, and some have specifically criticized the Commission for the way it handled this case. These and other similar considerations at play made the decision to reauthorize the CCRD and the Commission politically charged, and much debate ensued around the appropriate way to reauthorize the agency.

Ultimately, a compromise of sorts was reached at the eleventh hour of the legislative session. Here are some highlights of the changes:

  • Upon the expiration of the terms of the members of the Commission appointed before the effective date of the new statute, or upon a vacancy, the composition of the Commission will change as follows: 
    • Two members of the commission must be from the business community, with one member being a majority owner of a small business, and one being a majority owner of a business that employs more than 50 employees;
    • One member must represent a statewide chamber of commerce or other statewide organization for business and industry;
    • Three members must be from or represent employee associations that represent workers in Colorado;
    • One member must be appointed from the community at large. 
  • No more than six of the seven members may be affiliated with a major political party, and no more than three members can be affiliated with the same political party. This ensures at least one independent will serve on the commission and avoids a super-majority of any one political party.
  • Commission members are nominated by the Governor but confirmed by the Senate. The new bill also adds a provision where if the Senate rejects an individual nominated by the Governor, that individual is ineligible to hold the office for two years.

Other proposed changes, which included increasing the number of members on the Commission and allowing the General Assembly to appoint some of the members, did not make the cut. The final bill keeps the membership of the commission at seven members and keeps the appointment power with the Governor.

The bill, which was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on May 22, 2018 and goes into effect on July 1, 2018, authorizes the CCRD and the Commission through September 1, 2027. 

Read more about the law here: http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb18-1256

Workers’ Compensation Out-of-state Workers Temporarily in Colorado: HB18-1308

For businesses not located in Colorado, but who have employees working in the state on a temporary basis, a new Colorado statute may provide some relief from compliance with Colorado’s workers’ compensation law. The new law establishes an exemption from Colorado’s workers’ compensation act for out-of-state employers whose employees are working in Colorado on a temporary basis, so long as certain conditions are met. This law adds clarity to what law covers workers who are injured when temporarily working in Colorado. 

Read more about the law here: http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb18-1308

Rural Economic Advancement of Colorado Towns: SB18-005

If your business is located in a rural community, this new law may be of interest. This bill focuses on helping rural communities with economic development and revitalization by providing resources to assist with job retention or creation. While the focus of the bill is on providing nonmonetary resources to a community, particularly if there have been community-wide layoffs or plant closures, local businesses may ultimately be beneficiaries of local workforce development initiatives.

Read more about the law here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb18-005

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Featured Image: "Untitled" by G. Crescoli on Unsplash.
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