This week, lawmakers proclaimed Sine Die. It’s a Latin phrase that translates to “without day” but in Colorado, it signals the end of the legislative session. After almost 120 days of votes and debates over more than 600 bills, how did it go?

Think back to January, when the state legislature convened with a focus on economic recovery. Coloradans were still wearing masks, restaurants and local businesses were coping with crowd limits, unemployment lines were seemingly endless and the economic outlook was bleak.

Today, thanks to the vaccine, COVID is receding and businesses across the state are slowly returning to “normal.” Are we solidly on the road to recovery or will Colorado lag behind other states? Will any of the more than 600 bills contemplated by this legislature move our economy toward recovery?

What I know for certain is that Coloradans are tough. They are resilient. They possess the pioneering spirit that made our state the very best place to call home. How do I know? I’ve spent the last couple of months traveling the state to launch my new podcast, "Heidi’s Colorful Colorado." I’ve met entrepreneurs, volunteers, community leaders, moms, business executives, teachers, coaches and people from all walks of life. To a person, they each love this state and try to make it better each and every day.

Consider Lacy and Jess. When the pandemic caused their respective businesses to contract almost overnight, the pair saw the potential for a high-quality food delivery service that could bring prepared meals direct to Denver residents. Out of their brainstorming, their company was born. These women are an inspiration. They are innovative, hard-working and represent the very definition of resilient. Think about it. COVID knocked them down and they got right back up and launched a new business in the middle of a global pandemic.

Unfortunately, COVID isn’t the only economic challenge that small business owners like Lacy and Jess have to confront. Our state government is now making their life even harder.

The Common Sense Institute issued a study calculating the cost of proposed regulations, taxes and fees from this last legislative session alone. Hold on to your hat — it’s a whopping $1.8 billion. That’s billion with a B. That’s bad news for our economy, for businesses and for families.

We’ll have to wait for the final tally and see if Gov. Polis signs or vetoes any bills that place additional burdens on Coloradans. Consumers will face new fees on everything from gas to plastic bags. Businesses will confront new regulations on construction, transportation and more.

I’ll say it again — $1.8 billion.

At a time when many families and small businesses are still trying to overcome the impacts of the pandemic, how much more can we take?

How about finding out this week that consumer prices rose 5% year over year in May, the fastest pace since August 2008 and higher than Wall Street expectations?

Inflation is here for the long haul. It’s like the terrible icing on the bad legislative cake. It’s going to taste really bad for a while, and maybe it will ruin our appetite for more government? It remains to be seen. Young people today don’t have memories of waiting in gas lines for hours or paying 18% mortgage rates, so it may be a while before the pain causes change.

How’s this for pain?

There were 150,000 fewer jobs in Colorado last December, a 5.4% cut. Small business revenue is down 29.5% from January 2020 levels. The Colorado state employment ranking went from near first (fourth) to almost last (48th). Unemployment insurance taxes are likely to increase by over 84% within next two years.

I’ll say it again because it’s a really big deal. The cumulative cost of new taxes and fees will be approximately $1.8 billion per year within the next 3-5 years. That is not including the costs to comply with new regulations and legislation, which include mandatory coverage of sick leave; increased health insurance benefit coverage and the full costs of oil and gas regulations.

When lawmakers and Gov. Polis propose and vote on these bills they should think about Lacy and Jess. Ask yourself, “does this bill help or hurt people like Lacy and Jess?”

Their story is just one example of a small business, a job creator, trying to flourish in challenging times, and there are many, many more. We should support them, not constantly throw roadblocks in their path. Providing a sense of purpose through meaningful work is important to the health of our economy, but also to our souls. It’s time to stand up and proudly support our small-business owners, the job creators in our state.

Heidi Ganahl is a businesswoman, entrepreneur, author and at-large member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, to which she was elected as a Republican in 2016.

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