For the last four legislative sessions, versions have this legislation have been introduced but ultimately failing to pass in a split legislature. Staff believes the legislation has significant chance of passage this year.. The intent of the legislation is to have a state version of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with two key exceptions: 1) It provides a paid benefit, and; 2) it applies to all employers in Colorado of all sizes. The FAMLI program would be funded with a percentage of payroll deduction relative to the employee’s pay and create an enterprise within the Colorado Division of Labor and Employment (CDLE) to administer it. FAMLI would provide partial wage replacement benefits to an eligible individual who takes leave from work to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition, who is unable to work due to the individual's own serious health condition, or is unable to work because the individual or a family member is the victim of abusive behavior or stalking. The premium – affirmatively defined in the bill draft as a “fee” and not a “tax” – would be required to be split 50/50 between the employer and employee. The bill passed the Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee, in a hearing held while the rest of the state was closed down and region was gripped by a blizzard, on a 3-2 party line vote. CML did not testify, as staff was directed to stay home and be safe. Amendments adopted include:
The requirement for the employer contribution in this year's bill is a new element and of primary concern to staff, as it represents a unfunded mandate on municipalities, regardless of the "discount" amendment. CML and CCI spoke to proponents and Senate sponsors to enumerate issues with the details – many of which mirrored those earlier supplied by private sector interests – as well as to explain how local governments often already provide better benefits than FAMLI would. At this point, the key concerns are ensuring that any program would align and not conflict with FMLA and the unfunded mandate that the required employer payroll deduction represents. The bill will next be heard on Tuesday, March 19 in Senate Finance where we believe testimony will be taken, even though it is not required after the first committee.
HB 19-1235 requires municipalities to broadcast its dispatch radio communications without encryption such that the communications may be monitored by commercially available radio receivers and scanners or online. The bill also applies to certain state entities and counties. There are exemptions in the bill that include:
Encryption is an important tool for law enforcement and firefighting agencies. They utilize the technology to protect municipal citizens. Even with the exemptions, CML is opposed to HB 19-1235 because the use of encryption should not be dictated by the state. Local governments are capable of deciding when encryption should be utilized by law enforcement and other public safety entities. They are well equipped to balance privacy issues and successful public safety operations.
HB 19-1006, as introduced, did not impact local governments as it was aimed at creating grant opportunities for individuals to mitigate their homes in order to protect from wildfire damage. Upon learning that the current grants administered through the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program would already cover homeowner mitigation, the sponsors decided to amend the bill to strengthen that program. Once amended, HB 19-1006 will provide an additional $3 million to the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program. CML supported its creation as it provides resources to municipalities to implement wildfire mitigation programs. CML appreciates Reps. Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs and Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango for their work on improving this legislation.
SB 19-032 expands the petitioning authority to the Colorado State Patrol for HazMat route locations to include public highway authorities and or the governmental entity in a public private partnership. The legislation also requires CDOT to conduct a feasibility study on the safe transport of HazMat material through the Eisenhower-Edwin C. Johnson Memorial Tunnel.
A draft of this legislation was originally brought before the Transportation Legislative Review Committee (TLRC) last summer and was defeated by CML and other stakeholders due to significant local preemption issues. However, SB 19-032 is a much improved version of the legislation than was brought forward in 2018 and removed many of the specific issues we had with the original proposal. CML is currently reaching out to stakeholders to make sure our impacted municipalities are comfortable with the legislation before taking a position. We will continue to keep you updated on this legislation going forward.
Under current law, scooters are classified as toys and are therefore designated to be used on sidewalks. However, this antiquated statutory provision never contemplated the new technology of battery powered e-scooters now being utilized as a convenient last mile mobility device. HB 19-1221 excludes e-scooters from this definition and includes them in the definition of "motor vehicle" thus authorizing the use of electric scooters on roadways. The bill also affords riders of e-scooters the same rights and responsibilities as e-bikes under state law.
CML is currently analyzing this bill to ensure local governments have the authority and flexibility they need to effectively regulate e-scooters within their jurisdictions to ensure the general safety of riders and the public. We will be updating our position on this bill once we have received feedback from our membership that it does provide sufficient oversight authority.
SB 19-051 increases the amount of transportation funds appropriated under SB 18-001 in 2019 from $150 to $340 million. The bill increases the state's HUTF portion for transportation funding from $105 million to $266 million and the local government HUTF allotment from $22.5 million to $51 million. The bill does not increase funding for multimodal infrastructure improvements.