Weekly News from COBRT - April 2, 2019
April 2, 2019
Even as Colorado business groups begin to coalesce around a legislative effort to keep excess tax revenues and put them toward transportation and education, Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signaled that he is slightly more removed in his support of the proposal, weighing it as one of a number of options to try to generate more money to address the state's critical needs. 

Small businesses that are focused on online sales and that have been fretting about complying with new state rules for more than six months may finally be able to breathe a sign of relief, as a Colorado legislative committee gave unanimous approval at the first hearing Tuesday for a bill that seeks to relieve the burden of complying with the state's labryinthine tax rules until the state itself puts a better system into place. 

Sponsors of the legislative proposal to create a paid-family-and-medical-leave system mandatory for all employees to participate in will offer more than a dozen amendments at its next hearing Tuesday in response to a raft of complaints from most business organizations in Colorado. The changes would require that employees pay more to create the system than employers, would allow companies already offering paid-family-leave benefits to opt out of the new system and would allow seasonal employers such as ski resorts or farms not to have to hold a worker's job open when their leave is finished. However, the proposal will still require employers of all size to participate in the new program and will continue to allow workers who feel they have been wronged to file a lawsuit against businesses - though only after they go through an administrative process in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. 

The much-contested legislation to revamp regulation of oil and gas drilling in Colorado is nearing Gov. Jared Polis' desk after a number of significant changes designed to address industry concerns. The new parts of Senate Bill 181 are intended to put guardrails on the additional authority given to state and local governments in order to prevent unwarranted setbacks, delays or de facto bans. 

Wall Street attention is fixated on what appears to be the final stages of U.S.-China trade talks, but for many American companies the ongoing negotiations are second to another priority: Getting Congress to approve the new trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Known as the USMCA, the White House and top business groups have launched an all-out assault on Congress to try to assuage concerns from lawmakers over the deal's enforcement mechanisms and pharmaceutical protections, as well as educate new members on the intricate details of the update to the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

Business Roundtable and the Alliance for Competitive Taxation sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, urging the agency to implement the Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) minimum tax in a manner that supports U.S. competitiveness, growth and jobs. Specifically, the letter requests that Treasury take steps to ensure GILTI does not apply to companies with high-tax foreign earnings.

Pentagon officials hailed the Trump administration's plan to spend $14.1 billion on national security space programs in 2020 as a bold but necessary move to preserve and strengthen U.S. military dominance. The nearly 20 percent increase in military space spending sought by the Trump administration comes as the White House and the Pentagon prepare to stand up a new Space Development Agency, reestablish U.S. Space Command and plead their case to Congress for establishing a new Space Force within the Department of the Air Force. 

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018. Although this marks another quarter of decelerating growth for the U.S. economy, real GDP increased 2.9 percent in 2018, well above the 2017 rate of 2.2 percent. Consumer spending, business investment and private inventories all contributed positively to this growth.

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