Mike Sutherland, Centennial city council member came to hear what state Sen. Angela Williams and state Sen. Jack Tate had to say about the 2019 legislative session. Photo by Freda Miklin
Democratic state Sen. Angela Williams will take over as chair of the Business, Labor, and Technology committee from Republican Sen. Jack Tate when the general assembly convenes session Jan 4, 2019. Republicans held a two-seat advantage over Democrats in 2018. When the legislature gets back to work in January, those numbers will be reversed. The Democrats, who now hold a two-seat majority of their own, will control all committee chairmanships.
Taking over, Williams told members of the South Metro Denver Chamber’s Business Leaders for Responsible Government, who met at the beautiful still-new Greenwood Village headquarters of AAA Colorado that Tate ran the committee on a pro-business non-partisan basis and she looks forward to continuing that tradition with Tate as the ranking member.
Asked about the Family Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) bill that was introduced by Democrats during the past two legislative sessions, Williams said she has opposed it because of insufficient input from the business community. Though she supports the concept of allowing time off for family medical emergencies, the birth of a child, etc., she “must see the financial impact of FAMLI on business” before agreeing to make it a universal requirement for Colorado employers. Williams expects to be involved with introducing a form of the legislation in 2019. She believes in “bipartisan support for business legislation.”
Williams was asked how the general assembly will accomplish Governor-elect Jared Polis’ ambitious goals. She answered, “I support full-day kindergarten, but I don’t know how we will be able to pay for it. Voters rejected proposals to fund transportation infrastructure.” Referring to CDOT’s list of necessary projects totaling $9 billion, Williams said, “If we take $9 billion out of the general fund for transportation infrastructure, we won’t have enough money to fun other initiatives like full-day kindergarten.”
Tate said, “Transportation funding is a key leftover item from the November election. … Transportation will ultimately need to be paid for by a combination of general fund money, borrowed money, and some new revenue source approved by the voters.”
On the subject of the unintended consequences of the Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982 to maintain a constant ratio wherein 45 percent of property tax dollars come from residential property and 55 percent come from non-residential property, Tate said it has resulted in unfairly low taxes on residential property in some areas and unfairly high taxes on non-residential property in others. He intends to try to have Gallagher repealed and Williams said she supports his effort to do so.
The complexity of sales tax remittance by retailers has been a topic of great concern. Williams said she hopes to get a single portal for sales tax remittances to different jurisdictions around the state. “My goal is to simplify the process for small business,” she said. Tate offered that the Statewide Internet Portal Authority, on whose board he sits, may be able to help.
When a question about how to achieve transparency in health care costs was asked, Tate said, “Everything in society is cheaper than it was 30 years ago except health care, higher education, and textbooks, because everything else has a functioning market.”
He explained that to have a functioning market, you need informed consumers, which requires transparency. In the area of health care, providers don’t know the cost of providing their service. It is a systemwide problem that transparency alone won’t solve.
Tate closed by urging everyone to get personally involved by actively communicating with their representatives about issues they care about and encouraging friends and neighbors to do the same. He said he receives very few real emails from constituents about issues they want to see addressed. His message was: citizens have the real power if they would only use it.
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