In its ad in yesterday’s Daily Sentinel, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce announced it opposes HB-1001, “The Parental Involvement in K-12th Grade Education Act,” a family-friendly bill that requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer workers 18 hours of unpaid leave per school year to attend their kids’ academic events, like parent-teacher conferences, meetings related to dropout prevention, attendance, special education services, truancy, discipline issues and the like. HB-1001 allows for exemptions in case a business is having an emergency and needs all of its employees, or if an employee’s absence would leave a business unable to operate. The unpaid leave time could not exceed six hours in any one month, and employees would have to request the leave a minimum of a week before it is needed. The bill passed out of the House Education committee on February 6 on a 7-5 vote, and went to the full House, where is passed on the third reading with a 37-28 vote. Western slope House Representatives Dan Thurlow and Yeulin Willett both sided with the Chamber and voted against the measure, making these two legislators family-unfriendly as well. Every single House member who voted against this act was Republican. Every legislator voting for it was a Democrat.
The Grand Junction Chamber is on the record as opposing the interests of Colorado families. By extension, all of its member businesses oppose family interests, too. By belonging to the chamber they are construed as supporting the chamber’s political stances on issues, so keep that in mind next time you see a “G.J. Chamber Member” sticker in a local business’s window, and act accordingly.
Working Against the Best Interests of Local Governments
In the same ad, the chamber also announced its support of HB17-1124, the “Local Government Liable Fracking Ban Oil And Gas Moratorium,” introduced by Sen. Timothy Neville and Rep. Perry Buck, two Republicans. This bill would hold local governments financially liable to drilling companies and mineral royalty owners if the government enacts a ban or moratorium on drilling or fracking within its boundaries to protect the health and safety of its residents, or for any other reason. Under the bill, local governments would be forced to pay drilling companies for perceived financial losses from being unable to drill or frack within a city or county’s borders for any period of time. Unsurprisingly, Rep. Buck has accepted donations from multiple energy companies including Anadarko, Chesapeake Energy and XCel Energy. Sen. Neville has a similar donation profile.
The City Pays the Chamber to Oppose Its Best Interests
That the Chamber would oppose the interests of Grand Junction City government is pretty weird, especially given that several sitting council members are “chambermades,” or people who owe their seats on Council largely to grooming and financial backing from the chamber. What is even weirder, though, is that the City of Grand Junction is paying the G.J. Chamber to oppose its residents’ best interests. You’d think the City would want to keep the ability to limit drilling and fracking within its own boundaries to keep such activities away from schools, homes, parks and maybe even the mayor’s back yard, wouldn’t you? Instead, the City is paying the chamber to oppose its ability to say “no” to these kinds of harmful business activities within its borders.
Yes, you read that correctly. The City of Grand Junction is paying the Chamber to oppose it’s residents’ best interests on HB17-1124. To be exact, the City is paying $6,350/year for a highest-level membership in the chamber, to help the chamber fight to limit cities’ power in the state legislature.
Situations like this demonstrate why, arguably, a local government has no business belonging to a chamber.
A local government’s best interests and businesses’ best interests often clash. The sole goal of business is to generate profits, but the sole mission of government is to operate for the benefit of its residents, supplying them with services, protections and amenities they otherwise could not obtain for themselves. Right now, cash-strapped Grand Junction residents are paying the chamber $6,350 each year so the chamber can fight the City’s ability to protect its residents’ health and safety.
Silly. And harmful.
If you’d like to see the City end its membership in the chamber and put those funds toward a better use, call and leave a comment on the City’s recorded comment line at (970) 244-1504.