Legislative Committee Kills Pinnacol Tax Bill

Joint Budget Committee Party-line Vote Stops $3 Million Tax Increase Proposal On Workers Comp Provider

The Joint Budget Committee killed a proposal Thursday to revoke Pinnacol Assurance's insurance premium tax exemption after Pinnacol sent lawmakers a letter saying the tax will likely be passed on to the state's employers.

The JBC voted 3-3 with all Republicans voting against the bill, saying the legislation would harm Colorado businesses. Pinnacol is exempt from the tax because it is a quasi-government agency and the insurer of last resort. The bill would have revoked the company's premium tax exemption and raised about $3 million a year.

It would have required a unanimous vote of the JBC to move the bill forward, but it is still possible that a lawmaker not on the JBC will take up the legislation.

Pinnacol has been the focus of controversy for its generous executive compensation and company-funded trips that some elected officials called “disgusting,” and “ill-advised.”

In May, CALL7 Investigators followed Pinnacol Chief Executive Officer Ken Ross and Board President Gary Johnson, ethics chairwoman Debra Lovejoy and board member Ryan Hettich to Pebble Beach where hidden cameras caught them wining, dining and playing golf.

Pinnacol initially refused to release financial details of the trip, but after a court battle a judge ordered the company to provide receipts. Those documents showed the trip cost more than $318,000, including thousands in alcohol and one dinner that cost more than $19,000.

The JBC, the legislative committee made up of Republicans and Democrats that puts together the state’s budget legislation, is looking for ways to close the budget shortfall.

Pinnacol is the state's quasi-government worker's compensation insurance provider. It was chartered by the state to be the unemployment insurer of last resort. The company is mandated to cover businesses that cannot get coverage from other carriers. Its board members are appointed by the governor.