The Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports on the curious story of Colorado House Bill 17-1270–bipartisan legislation that would accomplish a long-stated goal of Republicans in the state legislature, easing the “regulatory burden” on small businesses by allowing the state some flexibility on fines and a window to fix problems without penalty for minor first-time rule violators:
After helping to kill a Republican effort in the Colorado Legislature earlier this month to offer regulatory reform to small businesses, Democratic state Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp on Tuesday put her own regulatory-reform effort before a House committee, pushing the measure through its first test but running into partisan opposition that eventually could spell its doom.
House Bill 1270, which the Arvada Democrat is co-sponsoring with Roxborough Park GOP Rep. Polly Lawrence, requires that state agencies offer businesses of 50 or fewer employees 30 days to cure violations of new rules that don’t involve the public health or safety, and it gives them discretion to allow those companies even more time to seek remedies without getting fined…
The new effort differs from Senate Bill 1 in that it lowers from 500 workers to 50 the threshold for businesses that can be given the extra leniency by the state, and it gives agencies discretion to work more cooperatively with companies rather than forces them to do so.
SB 1 passed out of the Senate on a somewhat bipartisan 24-11 vote but died on a Democratic-led party-line vote on March 2 in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee — the same committee that passed HB 1270 by a tally of 9-4.
Republicans in this committee hearing yesterday were generally hostile towards the bill, despite the fact that it has bipartisan sponsorship and aims to accomplish a long-sought Republican policy goal. That appears to be because the bill only protects “small businesses” under 50 employees–a number that we think might honestly be a little flexible if Republicans were to join the process constructively, though the GOP’s goal of defining “small business” under the bill as 500 employees or fewer seems too excessive.
Regardless, this is a bill that would do something Republicans say they want–regulatory relief for small business. Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp has a reputation for being pro-business in the ways that matter most to her suburban district, and that means helping out small businesses. To be perfectly honest, we don’t really care much for this kind of regulation defanging for-its-own-sake exercise. The best regulatory relief we can think of for any business is, sorry to be rude about this, compliance.
But if the GOP isn’t willing to get on board with a significant concession to their framing on the issue of government regulations, more or less handed to them on a plate by pro-business Democrats, you have to ask whether they’ve lost sight of their priorities.
And maybe what their priorities really are.