By Kelly Maher
Yesterday afternoon, the Colorado Senate Committee on Business, Labor and Technology rightly allowed Colorado’s Pay Equity Commission to sunset. This action came after hours of testimony from both small and large business-owning women, who called on Senators to not allow for the renewal of the Commission. Proponents of the sunset even included the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry.
Disturbing revelations in testimony came from two former members of the Pay Equity Commission, Patti Kurgan and Kathie Barstnar, who testified they were regularly bullied and even silenced in meetings. Ms. Kurgan said she was prevented from asking questions about premises and voicing a dissenting opinion from the majority of union and trial lawyer sympathetic commissioners. Testimony from former members and attendees also exposed the rampant anti-business sentiment perpetuated by the Commission.
The environment of the Pay Equity Commission was so toxic at times that Ms. Kurgan and the NFIB sent a letter to Ellen Golombek, executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, outlining the abusive behavior of the Commission.
We applaud the Republicans on the Senate Committee on Business, Labor and Technology for allowing the Pay Equity Commission to sunset. We heard today about the systemic silencing and bullying of dissenters in Commission meetings, and that’s not a group that should be allowed to operate under the banner of the State of Colorado. Senate Republicans stood with the numerous businesswomen who testified there are better approaches to addressing concerns than through intimidation and the unnecessary vilification of business.