RMPJC: Action Alerts March 1st, 2013

The following are bills in the Colorado State Legislature that the RMPJC supports. Please contact your state legislators on the bills that concern you. You can get contact info for your legislators at www.votesmart.org.

____Action step to take:
Call your local reps and let them know your concerns!!

We support a statewide moratorium on fracking  (supported by a statewide coalition called Protect Our Colorado) until it can be proven that fracking can be done safely. We also support giving more control over fracking to local governments. I don’t know of specific bills on this topic at this time.

MODERNIZATION OF THE COLORADO ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT (CADA) Sponsored by Representative Claire Levy, Representative Joe Salazar, Senator Morgan Carroll and Senator Lucia Guzman  In Colorado, employees who work at a business of 15 or more employees are protected under federal anti-discrimination law (Title VII)-which means that if they experience harassment or discrimination, they can seek compensatory and punitive damages, as well as recuperation of attorney and court fees in federal court. However, employees who work at a business of 14 or fewer employees are not covered by federal law, and state law provides no remedies (CADA). This bill would bring state remedies in line with the Federal anti-discrimination law (Title VII) as follows: 1)  In cases of intentional discrimination or harassment, compensatory and/or punitive damages and attorney’s fees may be awarded by a judge.2) Remove the age cap for age discrimination (currently at 70), and also modernize our state law in regard to disability discrimination.
Colorado Housing Stabilization & Mortgage Accountability Act Modeled after two key bills championed by the California State Attorney General, the Campaign to End Unjust Foreclosure supports the following reforms to Colorado¡¦s broken foreclosure system:
Restrict Dual Tracking: Under current law, borrowers can be processed for loan modifications and foreclosures simultaneously, resulting in many borrowers who are negotiating for a loan modification wrongfully losing their homes.  This bill will ensure that borrowers who submit a completed loan modification application will get a “yes or no¨ decision from their servicers, with an explanation, before they commence the foreclosure process. Require Proper and Accurate Foreclosure Documentation: Requires servicers to review reliable evidence to substantiate the borrower’s default and their right to foreclose. In addition, all recorded foreclosure documents must be properly reviewed and verified for accuracy. Giver Borrowers an Accountable Point of Contact Provide Strong but Fair Accountability: the bill provides that borrowers may bring legal actions to courts, but only for material violations of the law. Judges can provide only injunctive relief, requiring  servicers to stop the foreclosure sale and correct any previous violations.


_____________HB-1045 The Liberty Preservation Act would prohibit state employees and entities from aiding feds in the NDAA’s  indefinite detention without trial, if such aid would place the entity in violation of any provision of the United States constitution, the Colorado constitution, or any law of this state. This is important because our Constitutional Rights are at stake.

_______________Income Protection Act Clarifies that wage theft is a crime, Establishes criminal penalties for wage theft. Eliminates legal obstacles for wage theft victims in civil court.  Clarifies the definition of “employer” to mirror federal law  Modifies the 60-Day requirement to file a complaint of wage theft. Aligns attorney fees with federal law and national best practices. Strengthens the state’s administrative process to increase its capacity to help wage theft victims. Gives the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment enforcement power.  Reverend Daniel Klawitter FRESC/ Interfaith Worker Justice-Colorado 303.477.6111 x36, dklawitter@fresc.org or Carolyn Siegel Siegel Public Affairs 303.863.2400 carolyn@siegelpa. (House sponsor is Jonathan Singer)

_____________________Colorado Health Care Cooperative (Senator Aguilar)  (http://www.co-operatecolorado.org/) If approved, the bill will create a voter referendum for an Amendment to the Colorado Constitution to establish a statewide Colorado Health Care Cooperative.  The Cooperative will be “a body corporate and political subdivision of the state”…not subject to administrative direction or control by any department or agency of the state. It is a body of the people, by the people, and for the people of Colorado.  Membership: Each resident of Colorado will be a member of the Cooperative.  Interim Board: A 15 member Interim Board will be appointed to carry out all responsibilities until members elect a permanent Board. The Interim Board will create election rules to ensure non-partisan, fair, and open campaign and election processes, free from undue monetary influence.  Cooperative Board: Two Board Directors will be elected by members residing in each of seven Regional Care Collaborative Regions and three will be elected at large. Health Benefits: Comprehensive benefits include expanded essential health benefits plus dental, vision, hearing, and mental health/substance abuse for all members, regardless of whether services are a result of automobile accident or a work related injury. Deductibles and co-payments will be waived if needed to insure access to proper care. The Cooperative will assure statewide access to emergency and trauma services and will fund public health emergencies. Members may choose their own health care professionals. Delivery models: Payment to providers will minimize disruptions while gradually phasing in payment reforms and a single billing system. The Cooperative will establish a central purchasing authority to negotiate favorable prices for prescription drugs and medical devicesFunding: The Colorado Department of Revenue will collect a small payroll and income fee for start-up expenses. A payroll and income premium will be collected and transferred to the Cooperative after it assumes responsibility for payment of health care. Private health insurers: Nothing in this article prohibits private health insurers from doing business in Colorado.

____________________SB13-018    Permissible Use Of Credit Information By Employers (Sponsored by Representative Fischer and Senator Ulibarri) The bill creates the “Employment Opportunity Act”, which specifies the purposes for which consumer credit information (i.e., consumer credit reports and credit scores) can be used by an employer or potential employer (jointly referred to as “employer”). Specifically, the bill: Prohibits an employer’s use of consumer credit information for employment purposes if the information is unrelated to the job; Requires an employer to disclose to an employee or applicant for employment (jointly referred to as “employee”) when the employer uses the employee’s consumer credit information to take adverse action against him or her and the particular credit information upon which the employer relied; Authorizes an employee aggrieved by a violation of the above provisions to bring suit for an injunction, damages, or both; and Requires the department of labor and employment to enforce the laws related to employer use of consumer credit information.

______________The Family Care Act of 2013 Sponsored by Representative Cherylin Peniston and Senator Jessie Ulibarri This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The federal legislation provides unpaid, job-protected leave for employees to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or seriously ill family member (child, spouse, or parent), or to recover from their own serious health conditions. Many Coloradans provide care for additional family members but are currently not able to take job-protected leave under FMLA to provide that essential care.The Family Care Act would allow FMLA-eligible employees in Colorado to use FMLA to care for those related to the employee by blood, legal custody, adoption, marriage or a civil union and for those with whom the employee is living and in a committed relationship. A few examples of family members employees would now be able to use FMLA leave for include: Partners in a civil union;  Grandparents and grandchildren; Siblings;  Parents-in law; Domestic partners. This modest expansion will allow employees in Colorado to take better care of their families while their jobs are protected, which will ensure healthier workplaces and healthier communities.

_______________________SUPPORT SB13-001:  THE WORKING FAMILY ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY PACKAGE OF 2013 Sponsors: Sen. Morse & Sen. Kefalas and Rep. Kagan The Working Family Economic Opportunity Package of 2013, or Senate Bill 13-001, is an investment that prioritizes Colorado’s working families and children, our future.   Increasing a working family’s paycheck is the single most effective way to create stability in our families and opportunities for our children.  This bill gets at the root problem threatening our economy-people’s paychecks aren’t growing but their bills are. Designed to support Colorado’s working families, these three tax credits will be a critical asset for the many Colorado families that have experienced temporary job loss, seen their work hours cut, or their pay reduced. The Working Family Economic Opportunity Package includes:
1.      Creation of permanent, statewide Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is only available to working individuals and families earning low- to moderate-wages. It is the nation’s single most effective tool for reducing poverty among working families and children. This bill will create a permanent state-level version of the EITC equal to 10% of the federal credit. 2.      Creation of a permanent, statewide Child Tax Credit The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is a tax credit for families supporting children. The CTC is the largest tax code provision benefiting families with children and is a critical factor in the fight to end childhood poverty. This bill will create a permanent Colorado CTC equal to $100 per child 5 and under for many Colorado working families. 3.      Expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit aims to offset the cost of child care for families that are working or looking for work. Colorado currently has a state version of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. This bill would expand the Colorado credit to make it fully refundable and to partially offset the costs of care for adult dependents. CONTACT Ali Mickelson-Tax Policy Attorney, Colorado Fiscal Institute