Colorado Democrats, GOP unveiling jobs agenda
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – Economic development is at the center of Colorado lawmakers’ agenda for the upcoming 2012 session, with Republicans focusing on scaling back business regulations and Democrats seeking incentives for companies to buy state products and hire local workers.
Republicans unveiled part of their legislative agenda Thursday and Republican House Speaker said his party will approach this year in a “workman-like fashion.”
“Some have said that there’s nothing flash, there’s no flash or nothing fancy to this agenda and to a certain extent that’s right,” McNulty said. “We take our view of this session very seriously and we’re not going to rely on gimmicks. We’re not going to rely on attempting to distract the people of Colorado with a shiny object off in a corner.”
The 2012 session starts Wednesday.
Legislation from Republicans will include bills they say will simplify the permitting process for businesses and make it possible for the local timber industry to sell beetle-kill timber throughout the state.
McNulty said the current permitting rules often change, creating confusion for business and puts them in what he calls “this hamster wheel of a constant permitting process.”
Republicans also want to reinstate a state spending limit, which says the budget can grow by only up to 6 percent from the previous year. Democrats repealed the limit in 2009.
The economic development agenda from Democrats takes a different approach. Senate Democrats have said they’ll introduce legislation to give bidding preferences on state contracts to companies who show they’ll employ mostly Colorado workers. They also want to provide incentives for companies to buy Colorado-made products.
“I think it has real potential for job creation, and we’ll make our case as we bring that forward,” Democratic Senate President Brandon Shaffer said in an interview last month.
But Republicans are already criticizing the Senate Democrats’ proposals, saying they’ll only add more burdens to business. Shaffer said the legislation is still a work in progress.
“You never get it right the first time,” he said. “You may have a concept that’s a good concept and then you look at the different obstacles, either from a feasibility perspective or from a political perspective and you are ready to work with whomever is willing to work with you in order to overcome those obstacles.”
Other bills Democrats plan to introduce seek to stop hiring discrimination based on bad credit, and they also want to expand internet access to rural areas of the state.
Other Republican legislation would direct state agencies to report annually on opportunities to opt out of federal regulations and use state rules instead.
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