Ballot measures are monsters under the bed |

Ballot measures are monsters under the bed

As if the current state of the economy wasn’t enough to drive business owners to insomnia, here come a swarm of ballot issues guaranteed to make your skin crawl… all anti-business and dangerous as an arsonist in the dark. So, here is a primer on the issues you need to watch out for November 4.

As an author’s note, these are my thoughts and opinions and do not necessarily represent those of every Vail Valley Partnership member.

Amendment 47: States that no person shall be required to join a labor union, or pay any dues or fees to that union, as a condition of employment, but that nothing shall prevent any person from voluntarily belonging to a union.

The Boulder Daily Camera recently provided this concise explanation of one of the reasons why we need to approve 47: “Under current Colorado law, companies can require union membership for certain jobs…The dues that these workers are then required to give to the unions could be spent on political parties, candidates or causes which the workers may actually oppose… Employees should always have that choice. Amendment 47 will provide that to them.”

“Yes” on Amendment 47.

Amendment 53: Expands criminal liability for fraudulent activity by employees to managers, directors, officers, owners of companies and operators of non-profits. This extends not only to business, but to organizations and professional associations, like the Vail Valley Partnership and your homeowners association. It also and includes corporations, partnerships, sole-proprietorships and Colorado’s 19,000 nonprofit entities. If an employee errs, intentional or accidental, you will be liable.

“No” on Amendment 53.

Amendment 55: Tightly redefines “just cause” for employee termination under 20 or so separate guidelines. Economic downsizing to sustain your business for example is not a termination option if this amendment is approved. If approved, Colorado’s “at-will” employment status shifts to “just cause,” empowering lawyers to pursue damages on behalf of a client challenging their termination.

“No” on Amendment 55.

Amendment 56: Mandates that you pay 80 percent of medical insurance for all your employees AND 70 percent for their dependents. All businesses with 20 or more employees must provide full major medical health care benefits to every full-time employee and their dependents. Imagine the impact on the viability of your business under this scenario.

“No” on Amendment 56.

Amendment 57: Would allow employees to collect workers comp and seek compensation for past and future financial losses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of “enjoyment of life” and other non-economic losses. The amendment includes a “double-dip” provision, enabling injured workers to sue employers for unlimited damages after collecting a workers’ compensation award.

“No” on Amendment 57.

The result if these measures pass? Here are some thoughts about probable outcomes from the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association.

– Mandated cost increases, unknown factors of production, higher liability insurance costs, and the fear of criminal exposure for business practices directly or indirectly under their control.

– Economic development and business growth will be placed on immediate hold. Small and medium-sized businesses will struggle or fold, in an attempt to meet the new cost mandates and insurance liabilities.

– Non-profits anticipate there will be an immediate freeze on good people stepping forward to serve as directors, given their new exposure to uncertain criminal liability for their volunteer activities, and the foundation community that funds our nonprofits will see an increase in requests to cover basic costs for organizations helping in our state, as they are not exempt from these measures like mandatory health care.”

You can take two immediate steps: Contact your attorney to understand specifically how these four measures may affect your business, then spread the word. Start with the voters in your home, your colleagues, associates, employees and trade groups.

At first glance it looks like these amendments benefit a lot of people. In reality, they would seriously impact employment opportunities, organizational integrity and our ability to survive in an already wobbly economy.

Event update:

– “Ask the Experts” ” Internet and Web Marketing panel. Oct. 8, 5:30-7 p.m., at the Partnership office at Traer Creek Plaza in Avon. Free to all partnership Members. Reservation required. One attendee per member business, please.

– “Success in 60 Seconds” speed networking event. Oct. 9, 8-9:30 p.m., at the Beaver Creek Lodge. Free to all partnership members. Reservation required.

– Business After Hours Mixer at The Dusty Boot, Beaver Creek. Oct. 15, 5 – 7 p.m. Free to all partnership members.

– Non-profit Educational Seminar, Colorado Mountain College, Edwards. Oct. 30, 8:30-11:30 a.m.

– Vail Valley Success Awards categories and nomination forms are available online at Nominations close Oct. 15. For reservations or more information, call event coordinator Ruthie Carlson at 970-477-4001.

Michael Kurz is executive director and president of the Vail Valley Partnership.

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