Yes to impact statements

Filed under: Opinion,Print | Tags:, ,

Colorado lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow business impact statements to be attached to any piece of proposed legislation.

It’s a good idea, and there’s no reason why the bill should not be passed.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield) is sponsoring Senate Bill 116, which would give businesses five days from the time a bill is introduced to submit comments about how the bill might affect them. The Legislature’s nonpartisan staff would then summarize the comments in a “business impact statement” that would be attached to every legislator’s copy of the bill.

It would essentially give Colorado businesses a stronger voice at the front end of the legislative process.

Republican lawmakers have long pushed for the inclusion of such statements. Far too often, they complain, lawmakers push new laws into existence without considering how they will bind up businesses with the dreaded red tape.

And they’re right.

Too many regulations choke business pursuits, and now is the time to clear the airways so businesses can do more than merely survive — so they can revive the state’s economy.

Businesses would still get the chance to testify about bills during committee hearings. But the opportunity to offer comment sooner is crucial, because many legislators have made up their minds or have committed to lobbyists before they sit down at a hearing.

The biggest complaint about the comments is that they’re merely comments. That means, detractors say, that they can be easily ignored.

Several other states, including California and Massachusetts, have adopted the use of business impact statements, but many of them require legislative staffers to calculate the hard costs into a fiscal impact statement.

While that might be a good step, it would certainly slow the wheels of legislative progress. Comments are a move in the right direction.

Even if the impact statements are really only comments, it just makes sense to hear what businesses have to say before we consider the laws that will govern them.