If your bank or your customer’s business is in a high-ozone area and employs 100 people or more, you soon might have to find a new way to get to work, other than commuting alone in your car.
A new rule proposed by the state’s air pollution control division is seeking to force larger employers to reduce the number of employees commuting solo to 75% by 2022 and 60% by 2024.
Those employers would also be required to hire an “official transportation coordinator.” Additionally, they must do away with parking subsidies and begin charging for parking (if they do not currently charge a fee.) Commuters who can afford electric vehicles would be exempt from the rules.
The new suggested rule, while well intended, is fraught with problems. Business decisions (such as remote working, how an employee gets to and from work, whether employee benefits include parking subsidies, or if the company has resources to hire an employees’ transportation coordinator) should be determined by individual companies. The new rule is nothing short of the government seeking to mandate employers’ policies.
Furthermore, it is imperative that any undertaking is not punitive or unfairly burdensome for one group of people over another.
Under the rule, employees who work for larger companies – where public transit is not feasible or for whom work-from-home options are not available – would be forced to alone shoulder the burden of reducing greenhouse gasses in high-ozone areas. Employees who work for companies with fewer workers would not share the same responsibility.
It is important to note that while the rule targets larger employers, more than 90% of Colorado’s businesses are small, employing fewer than 50 employees.
Economic analysis that accompanied the proposed rule shows there are 2,800 employers in the 10-county area identified as having ozone problems that meet the criteria of employing 100 or more employees. In all, nearly 877,000 people work for those companies. By way of comparison, U.S. Census data shows there are 42,610 businesses in Metro Denver alone.
Possibly most important is the timing of the proposal. It is irresponsible to increase costs for workers and companies already working to overcome pandemic-related financial impacts. According to reports, staff analysis of meeting the goal in a broad range puts the annual cost per employer from $7,200 to $811,643. Many business groups also question the legal authority of the air pollution control division to issue such a rule.
Colorado leadership should be focused on economic recovery – not drawing up new rules that unfairly punish a select group of people. The proposal should be tabled until Colorado’s economy has recovered from the pandemic-caused economic downturn. Further, the proposed rule should be amended to ensure responsibility is shared more equally and that no group of people or the financial sector be unfairly burdened.
The Air Pollution Control Division has asked the state’s Air Quality Control Commission to set hearings and take a vote on the rule before the end of summer. On behalf of Colorado banks and their large employer customers, CBA will be advocating to ensure any impact of new regulations will not be overly costly or burdensome.