Summary of bill impact from the 2016 Colorado legislative session


Tax & Budget Policy

SB 36, Surety Requirements on Tax Appeals, repeals the requirements of filing a surety bond with the District Court or setting aside a savings account or deposit for the same amount when a business or individual taxpayer seeks to appeal a tax assessment by the state or local government. The bill would only require funds be set aside if a District Court ruling is appealed. So, this bill essentially reduces the upfront costs of appealing a tax assessment and removes existing financial barriers that made it more difficult for taxpayers to dispute tax bills.

More importantly for the longer term, this bill began the conversation on common definitions of taxable items with all municipalities in Colorado – a goal that ALCC and a coalition of other industries have been working on since 2010. With the passage of SB 36, there is momentum for a pilot program to allow for single point of collection and remittance to ease the burden for companies that deal in multiple jurisdictions.

Impact on your company or you:
If you receive a tax assessment from the state that you believe is inaccurate, you will no longer be required to file a surety bond double the amount owed, along with the cost of legal fees, before you have the right to dispute the amount of the tax bill. Instead, the Colorado Department of Revenue will charge you interest during the time spent appealing and investigating the assessment. If you win your appeal, your taxable amount owed will be corrected and you will not owe any interest. If you lose the appeal, you will owe your taxable amount owed, plus the interest that has been charged.

Water Policy

HB 1005, Residential Precipitation Collection, allows the collection of precipitation from the roof of a home in up to two rain barrels with a combined storage capacity of 110 gallons or less as long as the building is a single-family residence or multi-family with up to four units and the collected rainwater is used for landscape irrigation on that property only. Precipitation must not be used for drinking or indoor household purposes.

Impact on your company or you:
As of August 10, 2016, rain barrels can be sold and used legally in Colorado. As an industry professional, help your customers understand the parameters of how they are to be used and how rain barrels fit with the rest of the landscape irrigation.

Workforce Development

HB 1289, Incentives to Complete Career Development Courses, is a pilot program that will provide financial incentives for participating districts and charter schools to encourage high school students to enroll in and successfully complete qualified industry-certificate programs, internship or pre-apprenticeship programs, and advanced placement courses. Each school district and charter school may decide annually whether to participate in the pilot program. Beginning with FY 2017-18, participating districts/schools may receive up to $1,000 for each pupil who successfully completed a qualified program in the preceding year. The bill requires the state legislature to appropriate at least $1.0 million annually for incentive payments. Applicable programs in priority order include industry certificate programs; internship and pre-apprenticeship programs and advanced placement courses.

Impact on your company or you:
ALCC testified in support of this bill as it will help further our Landscape Career Pathways program in high schools statewide – as it is industry training, can lead to certification and will have a significant internship component. Under the pilot program created by this bill, more Colorado students will have non-traditional pathways in high school to a career. This will allow for industries and associations that have approved programs to further integrate them for high school students.

Business Practices

HB 1432 Providing Employees Access to Personnel Records, allows employees to receive access to their personnel records once per year. The review shall occur at an employer's office at a time convenient to both parties, and a former employee may inspect their file one time after being terminated. The bill stipulates the records review shall only be conducted in the presence of a person responsible for managing personnel data and may require the employee pay for the costs of duplication of documents.

The following is excluded from the personnel file review:

  • records required to be placed in a separate file by federal or state law or rule (I-9, W-4 and employment application) 
  • records pertaining to confidential reports from previous employers of the employee;
  • records relating to an active disciplinary investigation by the employer or a regulatory agency, or an active criminal investigation; and
  • any information in a document or record that identifies any person who made a confidential accusation, as defined by the employer, against the employee.

Impact on your company or you:
Companies need to ensure files are available for inspection once a year at a time convenient for the employer and the employee. Employees incur the costs of document copies if applicable.


HB 1438, Employer Accommodations Related to Pregnancy, requires employers to engage in a timely, good-faith, interactive process when an employee or applicant requests reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy or physical recovery from childbirth. Reasonable accommodations may include more frequent or longer break periods, acquisition or modification of seating; temporary transfer to less strenuous work or light duty, if available; and assistance with manual labor or modified schedules.

If requested by an employee, employers must provide accommodations to an applicant or an employee unless the accommodations place an undue hardship on the employer's business. "Undue hardship" is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense to the employer. The factors in determining undue hardship are the nature and cost of the accommodations, the financial resources of the employer, and the overall size of the business with respect to number of employees.

Additionally:

  • The bill states it neither increases nor decreases an employee's rights, under any other law, to paid or unpaid leave associated with the employee's pregnancy so current law and company policies remain intact as it relates to employee’s rights.
  • The bill specifies that a court must not award punitive damages in a civil action involving a claim of failure to make reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth if the defendant demonstrated good faith efforts to comply with the requirement.

Impact on your company or you:
Check your company handbook, policies, and compare your internal guidelines for compliance with this new law, and get legal advice as appropriate. Employers must also provide a written notice of the right to be free from discriminatory or unfair employment practices related to these requirements to new employees and existing employees within 120 days of the bill's effective date, and they must post the notice in a conspicuous place.

Remember that current law and company policies on employees paid or unpaid leave are not changed by by this law. This bill does not have fines associated with the failure to accommodate, but employers should use their discretion as it relates to how the company meets the requirements.

 
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