(March 28) – Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp’s bill to give state agencies the ability to waive penalties for small businesses that run afoul of state regulations passed the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee this afternoon in a bipartisan rebuttal to years of partisan efforts to tilt the playing field against Coloradans.

Under HB17-1270, also sponsored by Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park, first-violation companies with 50 employees or fewer – about nine out of 10 companies in Colorado — that fail to file the appropriate paperwork, where the aggregate penalty is a fine of $500 or less, could be given 30 days to correct the lapse without penalty. State agencies would have discretion on a variety of categories, but not in several specified categories, including those involving public safety, wage theft or violations of federal law.

The bill would also urge state agencies to improve public dissemination of rules changes and order a review of the most-violated rules to see if notification and training, or the rules themselves, should be revised.

Testifying in support of the measure were representatives of organizations as diverse as the Colorado Competitive Council, Conservation Colorado, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the AFL-CIO and the Denver Metro Chamber.

“This is not just me, this is not just Rep. Lawrence,” said Rep. Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada. “This is stakeholders that have been meeting for months. Let’s support them, let’s move along and support smart regulatory reform that cuts red tape while also ensuring the health and safety of Coloradans.”

Despite bipartisan sponsorship and support from an array of labor and business groups, only one Republican voted for the bill, even though they have supported similar efforts in the past. The vote to send HB17-1270 to the House floor was 8-5.

Also today, the BAL Committee approved Rep. Kraft-Tharp’s HB17-1119, which would give the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment discretion to relax the automatic $250-a-day minimum fines for two-time offender companies failing to carry workers compensation and use fines collected for workers comp violations to create a fund to assist employees who suffer on-the-job injuries while working for companies violating the workers comp law. The bill passed on an 8-5 vote and goes to the Finance Committee.

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