The Chamber office has been abuzz with anticipation of the start of the 68th General Assembly of the Colorado Legislature.
Governor John Hickenlooper was sworn in yesterday, and the session opened today. Our returning and newly elected leaders are ready to get to work.
In preparation for the new session, the members of the Chamber’s Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) have been meeting to stay informed on the issues of highest importance to business. Budget concerns, unemployment insurance and education have been some of the items on the agenda thus far. Over the course of the 120-day legislative session, LPC members will meet weekly to take positions on the bills that could have potential business impacts. We will provide a weekly legislative update on those positions in Inside Report starting next week. In addition, our Public Affairs team will once again track House and Senate votes on those bills and will issue a Legislative Scorecard at the end of the session.
Also this week, the Chamber and more than 50 organizations released a letter calling for Civility in Leadership among elected leaders, both in Colorado and in Washington, D.C. The letter urges leaders to proceed with an attitude of respect and decorum toward one another, even while debating volatile issues. We sincerely hope that, in the coming months, our legislators will exhibit dignity and a commitment to working together in a productive fashion toward solutions to Colorado’s challenges. We thank those elected officials who have already agreed to support this approach.
Finally, the Chamber released today an online video that highlights the importance of business in the community. We have shared the video with members of the Colorado General Assembly, and we hope you will take a few short minutes to view it as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIO9Nquge6M
We encourage you to share the video with your friends and colleagues. It’s a simple explanation of how success in the business world translates into success in the public sector.
There is important work to be done this session. The Chamber is ready. We will continue to work hard to ensure that our elected leaders hear the voice of business as they make the decisions this session that will affect our community for years to come.
Our Denver Metro Chamber members are an optimistic bunch. In a recent, informal survey, 55 percent of our members reported that they expect Colorado’s economy to be better a year from now and only 8 percent expected it to get worse. We need that kind of positive thinking, and especially from our members who should know because they are the ones working hard in their businesses to make that economic recovery a reality.
Each year, we poll our members twice to get a feel for the issues that are important to them and their businesses. This year, job creation and economic development are top of mind for our members, with 35 percent of survey respondents who said “attracting and maintaining good paying jobs” should be the top priority of the new governor and administration; 27 percent felt “economic development” should be the No. 1 priority.
In addition, 71 percent of respondents reported that the “overall economy” was the most important priority for their company and 53 percent selected “job creation” as the top issue.
Our work at the Chamber in the past year or so has focused squarely on those two goals as we work to help Colorado regain its economic footing. Attracting and retaining strong companies results in more jobs for Colorado’s citizens and a better overall economy.
Other issues that continue to remain high priorities for the Chamber include education, transportation and health care-all of which are vital components in creating and maintaining a healthy economic climate. Our members (43 percent) reported that the “availability of an educated workforce” is one of their top five company priorities (selected from a list of 25 business issues). A solid education system-from P through 20-is the key to that educated workforce.
Members (37 percent) also rank “health care coverage and insurance rates” as a top five concern. In the midst of national health care reform and the creation of health insurance exchanges on the state level, this issue will continue to impact businesses of all sizes.
We will continue to work with our members to not only discuss these important issues, but to convene the leaders and groups who can effect positive change in these areas. We will continue our work to educate our elected leaders about the business community’s views on these issues.