CBA members,

Following a bifurcated and unprecedented state legislative session marked by pandemic-caused economic downturn, bankers can breathe a sigh of relief as your industry emerged largely unscathed.

I am pleased to report that while the session was plagued with overtly anti-business proposals, the Colorado Bankers Association has continued its winning streak on industry specific legislation and successfully lent its weight to combat measures that could have proved harmful to businesses and economic recovery.

Preliminary work, persistence and positive sentiments regarding banks’ work to facilitate the Paycheck Protection Program contributed to CBA’s success at the legislature.

CBA Chairman Nathan Ewert told me, "The membership should be very pleased with the results that were achieved, particularly in such a challenging environment. Not only is this an excellent return on our investment in the association, but Colorado banks and their customers will directly benefit from its legislative success.”

After months of work educating lawmakers and working to tweak potential legislation seeking to implement a state-level moratorium on foreclosures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we alerted members in late May that no legislation would be introduced.

Ahead-of-time legwork also curbed effort toward creation of a state- or municipal-owned bank. The block is the latest in CBA's years-long track record of quashing measures to form such a bank via a ballot measure.

And, just a year after CBA-led efforts resulted in the State Banking Board denying the sale of a state-chartered bank to a state-chartered credit union, this spring we put the kibosh on an attempt to ease future transactions – before it was ever introduced.

Proactive legislation we carried on behalf of the Colorado Division of Banking, gives authority to the Division of Banking Board to determine the value of bank-owned property that requires a certified appraisal, allowing Colorado to more easily remain compliant with federal law. 

Working closely with the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, we obtained amendments a pair of bills, HB21-1311 and HB21-1312, which call into question the taxability of some bank services. CBA was able to insulate banks from undue harm by persuading the Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue to go on-record to state that the bill will not affect financial institutions and that they will continue to be taxed at the rate they are, currently. CBA continues to have concerns over the negative impact of a tax increase on businesses already hindered by pandemic-related economic challenge in the coming sessions.

CBA's influence led to amended legislation that has earmarked $30 million in state funds to help agriculture businesses to ensure the state does not engage in direct lending. Instead, the state department of agriculture will work with traditional lenders to distribute the funds. A similar amendment was obtained on a bill allowing the Office of Economic Development and International Trade to extend $30 million in funds to small businesses in Colorado.

A bill that would have hindered banks' ability to use biometric information for identification purposes - such as video surveillance during a bank robbery – died in committee, thanks in part to CBA’s interference. Similarly, a bill that would have forced security guards – including those working in banks – to wear body cameras did not become law.

Banks will not be subject to additional and potentially duplicative data privacy laws enacted this session, because we secured an exemption for entities beholden to the Gramm Leach Bliley Act.

Turning its attention to the greater business community, CBA assisted in amending a commercial property energy efficiency bill to minimize negative unintended consequences regarding affordable housing and to grant property owners who have been economically impacted by COVID-19 additional time to comply with requirements.

Businesses will not face class-action litigation under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, because CBA and other business advocates handily defeated a bill that sought to implement the potential for class action litigation. It did so by attempting to determining damages in class action litigation under the Act, despite class action litigation not being authorized.

In the final days of the session, a proposal that would have held employers liable for alleged workplace harassment committed by contractors and would not have afforded accused employers sufficient time to respond to or remedy alleged problems was killed in a House committee.

We joined forces with the greater business community to oppose the measure, securing amendments to mitigate employer liability for actions of independent contractors and to require a preliminary hearing before an employee could take a private right of action (file a lawsuit). While the proposal is expected to be introduced again next year, opponents hope it will reappear in a better form than what was introduced this session.

Bank customers will be happy to know our push to correct a flawed law has made sure that the flight miles and other rewards they have accrued by using bank loyalty cards cannot be seized by the state – nor can their money in any linked, albeit dormant, account – if they have gone untouched for any period of time.

Finally, future customers will be happy to learn that after a pandemic-related stall in 2020, CBA reintroduced legislation to expand financial literacy curriculum to include schooling on student loans, credit card debt, retirement savings and first-time home buyer education. The bill is awaiting the governor’s signature.

The depth and breadth of issues on which we engaged during the 2021 session serve to reflect the banking industry’s integral role in Colorado’s economy and communities.

I would be remiss if I didn't credit CBA’s contract lobbying firm, Colorado Legislative Strategies and lobbyists Melanie Layton and Andrew Wood, as well as the CBA team (Amanda Averch, Brandon Knudtson, Lindsay Muniz and Don Childears) for their diligent work on behalf of the banking industry, to ensure banks can continue to meet the changing needs of their customers.

The team flawlessly delivered on its commitment to CBA members and their clients. Colorado bankers can be proud of what this team accomplished, with your backing.

We are proud to defend and promote an industry that reiterates its commitment to community on a daily basis. We are grateful for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Jenifer Waller
President
Colorado Bankers Association
Colorado Bankers Association
303-825-1575 | 303-825-1585