Local Lawmaker and Business Leader Worry Legislation May Hurt Businesses

Local News

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- As Colorado opens back up and navigates COVID-19, a local lawmaker says some legislation may impact small businesses.

“What you’re seeing is a lot of different bills coming forth that have all types of fees, all kind of mandates that are attached,” said Senator Ray Scott, who represents Mesa County. “And they’re going to cost local business owners money.”

One of these bills is Senate Bill 215, aimed at lowering health insurance cost on the individual market. The Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce director says this law would increase the cost for businesses who already provide health insurance for employees.

“Policy holders of group insurance would be paying a new fee to the State of Colorado which would bring down premium costs for individuals on the individual market,” said chamber director Diane Schwenke. “But would raise the price of insurance we purchase for our employees.”

Another bill Schwenke is concerned about deals with workers’ compensation for COVID-19. This bill mandates if an essential worker comes down with the virus, it’s to be assumed they got it on the job. Schwenke feels this could burden businesses with additional costs.

“Now it would be on the employer to prove that I got it somewhere else other than work which is just an impossible standard.”

Senator Scott feels given the issues caused by coronavirus, the legislature should have just focused on balancing the state’s budget, which already has taken a massive hit because of the virus.

“A lot of this is politics,” Scott said. “There’s a lot of optics involved in these bills to try and pander to one side or the other. And it’s unfortunate, but it is an election year, and those are the kinds of things that happen in the legislature.”

Scott says while the legislature is expected to conclude its session Friday, he expects a recess will instead be taken, and lawmakers will reconvene later in the summer to continue addressing COVID-19 and other pending legislation.

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