San Juan County, Colorado, can boast that 99.9% of its eligible population has received at least one dose of covid-19 vaccine, putting it in the top 10 counties in the nation, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If vaccines were the singular armor against covid’s spread, then on paper, San Juan County, with its 730 or so residents on file, would be one of the most bulletproof places in the nation.
Yet the past few months have shown the complexity of this phase of the pandemic. Even in an extremely vaccinated place, the shots alone aren’t enough because geographic boundaries are porous, vaccine effectiveness may be waning over time and the delta variant is highly contagious. Infectious-disease experts say masks are still necessary to control the spread of the virus.
The general assembly therefore declares that in order to ensure that all Colorado residents have fair and equitable access to insurance products, it is necessary to: (a) Prohibit: (I) Unfair discrimination based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, or gender expression in any insurance practice; and (II) The use of external consumer data and information sources, as well as algorithms and predictive models using external consumer data and information sources, which use has the result of unfairly discriminating based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, or gender expression; and (b) After notice and rule-making by the commissioner of insurance, require insurers that use external consumer data and information sources, algorithms, and predictive models to control for, or otherwise demonstrate that such use does not result in, unfair discrimination.
Colorado recently became the 14th state to enact the new workaround, which allows (or in Connecticut’s case, requires) pass-through businesses to pay state income taxes at the entity level rather than on their personal income tax returns. For small businesses like partnerships, declaring that income as a business instead of passing it through to their individual tax returns means the state taxes paid on that business income don’t count toward their SALT cap.
The new mechanism is called a pass-through entity (PTE) tax, which is exempt from the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction that was part of President Trump’s 2017 tax reform. For business owners in high property tax states like New Jersey and Connecticut, it’s a critical change because it allows those taxpayers to deduct more of their local taxes from their other personal income.
Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act — a set of laws aimed at ending wage discrimination, especially for women and minorities — went into effect earlier this year.
But instead of adhering to the legislation, some companies have decided to exclude Colorado-based remote employees in job listings.
The act specifies that employers hiring in Colorado must include an expected salary range and benefits in job posts. Some reports claim that companies don’t want to reveal their cards.
Even if these rules are a good idea, they demand new systems and processes for any business hiring in Colorado. Many are balking, so it’s looking like a “cobra effect” law: when a well-intentioned rule backfires.
In the face of the pandemic, states across the geographic and political spectrum — including Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and New York — are actively considering tobacco tax increases during their legislative sessions. Last month, a bipartisan supermajority in the Maryland Legislature moved to increase the state’s cigarette tax by $1.75 per pack, the first increase in nearly a decade, and to establish a tax on e-cigarettes to fund tobacco cessation and health programs.
The growing legislative momentum comes after voters in Colorado and Oregon approved tobacco tax increases in ballot measures last November. Colorado, which had not raised tobacco taxes in 16 years, will collect an estimated $175 million in revenue during the 2021-22 budget year for tobacco cessation and health programs. In Oregon, higher tobacco taxes will generate an estimated $160 million per year and help to fund the care of people with mental illnesses and other conditions.
Author(s): NANCY BROWN, AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION
In a white paper for The Pew Charitable Trusts, Eric Scorsone and Natalie Pruett of the Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan Center for Local Government Finance & Policy assessed local government early warning systems through case studies in Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Each of these states applies various financial ratios—an approach known as ratio analysis—and other indicators to identify signs of local fiscal distress. Ratio analysis uses fractions that capture financial or economic activity within a locality—such as total expenditures over total revenues—to measure solvency, the ability to pay debts and liabilities over the short or long term. Ultimately, the authors determined that there isn’t one optimal system and instead offer several recommendations for states to build or improve their early warning systems.
The authors present detailed descriptions of the four states’ systems and analyze trade-offs and implications of the indicators employed to measure different types of solvency. They offer a variety of recommendations for states to consider, including use of indicators for four types of solvency: