These are all of the labor bills proposed in the 2019 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.
None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.
Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in . They are color-coded by party.
Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.
Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.
Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:
HB19-1025: Limits on Job Applicant Criminal History Inquiries SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB19-1058: Income Tax Benefits for Family Leave KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1101: Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1210: Local Government Minimum Wage SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB19-1273: Colorado Partnership for Quality Jobs and Services Act KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR
HB19-1217: PERA Public Employees' Retirement Association Local Government Division Member Contribution Rate SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1227: Prevailing Wage Working Group in Department of Personnel and Administration KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR
HB19-1254: Notice Requirements Employees Sharing Gratuities SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1270: PERA Public Employees' Retirement Association Board Assess Climate-Related Financial Risks KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1166: Name-Based Criminal History Record Checks SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1299: Local Government Retirement Plan Contribution Rates SIGNED INTO LAW
Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:
SB19-085: Equal Pay for Equal Work Act SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB19-196: Colorado Quality Apprenticeship Training Act of 2019 SIGNED INTO LAW HEAVILY AMENDED
SB19-056: Veterans Employment Preference by Private Employer KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-106: Withdraw Peace Officers Local Government Retirement Plan SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB19-171: Apprenticeships and Vocational Technical Training SIGNED INTO LAW
SB19-173: Colorado Secure Savings Plan Board SIGNED INTO LAW
SB19-188: FAMLI Family Medical Leave Insurance Program SIGNED INTO LAW VERY HEAVILY AMENDED
SB19-260: Entry into FPPA Fire and Police Pension Association for Social Security Employers SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1025 Limits on Job Applicant Criminal History Inquiries (Foote, Rodriguez) [Melton, Herod]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Prohibits employers from advertising or placing a statement in an employment application that a person with a criminal history may not apply to a position or from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial application, with exemptions for some jobs and employers. Employers may still obtain an applicant’s criminal history at any time.
Prohibits employers from advertising or placing a statement in an employment application that a person with a criminal history may not apply to a position or from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial application, with exemptions for some jobs and employers. These exemptions include where the law prohibits a person with a criminal history from being employed in the job, where the employer is participating in a program to encourage employment of people with criminal histories, and when the employer is required by law to conduct a criminal record check for a position. Employers may still obtain an applicant’s criminal history at any time.
Nearly one in three Americans has a criminal history, and in Colorado more than 1.5 million people are in the state criminal record database. This often creates a significant barrier to future employment which puts these rehabilitated Americans in a difficult situation where they cannot earn good money at a steady job, which makes it more likely they will reoffend. We need to break the cycle by giving them a chance to make a good first impression. Employers can still check their criminal history prior to offering a job.
This interferes with the ability of employers to choose what kinds of people they want working for them, a choice that any employer has the right to make. If they have decided they aren’t interested in people with criminal backgrounds, all this bill does is waste everyone’s time: the applicant who isn’t going to get the job and the employer who won’t give it to them.
HB19-1058 Income Tax Benefits for Family Leave (Priola) [Landgraf, Beckman]
KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
Creates leave savings accounts, which operate in a manner similar to a 401k with an employee contributing pretax wages that an employer can match. Money in the account is tax deductible, as is interest earned on it, but must be spent on eligible leave expenses. Also creates a tax credit for employers offering paid leave for the same eligible categories.
Creates leave savings accounts, which operate in a manner similar to a 401k with an employee contributing pretax wages, maximum of $5,000 annually, that an employer can match. Money in the account is tax deductible, as is interest earned on it, but must be spent on eligible leave expenses, which include: childbirth/newborn care, placement of child for adoption or foster care, caring for an immediate family member in serious condition, a serious health condition that makes the individual unable to work in their job, any qualifying exigency as identified by the federal Department of Labor arising out of military deployment. Individuals must submit an annual report to the state with their taxes detailing how the fund was used (form to be created by state). Financial institutions do not have to do anything new for the program. Using the funds in any unapproved manner makes them subject to being taken by the state along with a 10% penalty. Also creates a tax credit for employers offering paid leave for the same eligible categories. Credit is 50% of amount paid for those with fewer than 50 employees and 25% for others with at least 6 weeks and up to 12 weeks of pay.
The U.S. is the only one of 41 high-income countries to not offer paid leave to new parents, and one of few nations worldwide to offer no guaranteed paid sick leave. Colorado’s economy functions on the backs of its working families and functions best when those families are able to participate in the economy. When someone has to go on leave, and does not have a salary, they cannot spend in their normal way the economy as a whole suffers. This allows employees to save money toward these events so that they will have at least some income replacement, as well as a way for employers to contribute (and increase the desirability of their benefits package to prospective employees). It does so in a way that is entirely voluntary and does not drain money out of our economy or disadvantage workers and employers who already offer paid leave (as well as offer incentives for employers to offer paid leave).
This is an inadequate fig leaf that may do very little to help someone in an unpaid leave situation. First, someone who would struggle in such a scenario is likely to be unable to take large amounts out of their paychecks to put into accounts that they can never access unless a true emergency arises. Even if the person dies, the money in the account goes back to the state (but there’s no penalty, how nice). Second, if someone does manage to put some money into an account like this and does somehow manage to convince their employer to match it, how far is that money going to go in a situation where they face unpaid leave?
The state should not be in the business of coddling people who are unable to save up money for emergencies (or plan ahead for having children). Coloradans who make wise financial choices and don’t live beyond their means shouldn’t be disadvantaged when it comes to tax incentives.
HB19-1101 Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation (Smallwood) [Ransom]
KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
*Sent to the House State Affairs Kill Committee*
Prohibits an employer from requiring any person to join a union, pay union fees, or assessments to charity or other third-party organization as requirement of employment. Any agreement that violates these provisions is null and void. Excludes federal employees and employers.
Long Description: n/a
So-called all-union employment is unfair to individuals who don’t want to participate, for whatever reason, and are forced to support something they do not believe in. This includes being forced to pay their own money to the union. Unions are still welcome to organize, but just won’t be able to force anyone to participate against his or her will. This won’t kill unions, they can still negotiate with employers for higher wages and benefits and if some people benefit from this without paying dues or joining, that will not be the worst thing in the world. It happens all the time, all over the country. Certain people or groups of people work really hard and spend time and money to advocate for a benefit that will help everyone, even the people who didn’t lift a finger to help.
Unions are all or nothing propositions. The protections, wages, and other benefits that unions negotiate are for all employees, thus all employees need to contribute. In many ways, this is similar to numerous forms of taxes and fees: we all vote, then we have to abide by what the decision is (and the threshold for all-union employment is much higher than simple majority rule, the higher of majority of eligible voters or ¾ of those who actually voted). So while something like this sounds nice in theory, in practice it is a killer blow to many unions who fight for their members rights every day. Being in a democracy means abiding by the decisions of the electorate, even when we don’t agree.
HB19-1166 Name-Based Criminal History Record Checks (Zenzinger) [Singer, Larson]
SIGNED INTO LAW
For jobs that require a fingerprint-based criminal background check, this bill adds the requirement that if the background check reveals an arrest record, but not the disposition of the case, that an additional name-based criminal background check be undertaken.
Long Description: n/a
Fingerprint background checks don’t show what happened in a case, just that there was an arrest. This is unfair on multiple levels: the employer doesn’t know if the person they are looking to hire was convicted of a crime or not, and an employee who was found not guilty or had their charges outright dismissed, just gets lumped in as someone who got arrested with everyone else. An additional check, by name, will clear up what actually happened in the case. We still need to do fingerprint checks first because fingerprints are unique, while names are not. Using the name is fine once you know the exact case you are looking for.
Arguments Against: n/a
HB19-1210 Local Government Minimum Wage (Danielson, Moreno) [Melton, Galindo]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To allow local government to set a minimum wage higher than the state minimum wage.
Allows any local government to set a minimum wage that is higher than the state minimum wage. Must gradually move to higher minimum wage by the lesser of $1.75 or 15% per year. Must engage local businesses (including tipped businesses) before increase. If 10% of state municipalities set a higher minimum wage then the ability is frozen until the general assembly weighs in again.
Additional Information: n/a
This is just plain common sense. A one size fits all minimum wage for the entire state is silly as it ignores the variance in cost of living and goods and services around the state. Let the city of Denver and the city of Durango make their own choices as to what is best for their residents. The state minimum can then act as a baseline at which no one should go below. Cities across the country in other states have done this with no ill effects on jobs or business growth.
The state’s economy is interconnected and deciding that we are going to allow liberal Denver to experiment with a higher minimum wage is not a choice that will not affect Durango or any other place in the state. If the experiment fails and drives down job numbers due to employers being unable to pay the higher wages, the resulting economic harm will hurt us all. In additional, this is a burden on companies with multiple locations across different parts of even just the Denver metro area, as they will have different requirements depending on what local jurisdiction the business location is in.
HB19-1217 PERA Public Employees' Retirement Association Local Government Division Member Contribution Rate (Court, Tate) [Becker]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To remove the 2% contribution increase from local government employees to public employees’ retirement association from last year’s mega-compromise bill.
Removes the 2% contribution increase from local government employees to public employees’ retirement association from last year’s mega-compromise bill.
This fixes a mistake in last year’s big compromise bill that was designed to save the public retirement fund and eliminate its unfunded liability within 30 years (the 30 year number is important: that’s the goal here, not as fast as possible). The big $225 million payment the state made to the public retirement fund in the big compromise bill last year didn’t help the local government portion of the retirement plan. The local government plan (one of the smallest in the group) was also already much better funded than the other portions of the retirement plan and thus did not need employees contributing. So the bill sponsors from last year had made a deal with the local governments that their employees would not have their contributions raised. It was an error in the bill that this occurred and 1217 fixes that. The divisions are already treated differently in the bill, local government employees don’t get defined benefit plans in the future (a sacrifice they are making) while schools do. So not only is it within the bounds of historical action to treat the divisions differently, it also is actually unfair to the local government division to force them to keep this raised employee contribution when their employees have a worse deal than other divisions. This division is far too small to have a big impact on the 30 year goal.
This is messing with the grand bargain we just made in the last legislative session that to save the public employees retirement account we needed to ask everyone to make some sacrifices. The fiscal note from the non-partisan legislative services committee estimates that this change will add four years onto the time required to eliminate the unfunded liability in the local government plan: from 15 years to 19 years. It is also tough to ask employees of the other divisions to keep their raised contributions: judicial, Denver public schools, other schools, and state government. They were all told last year that this sacrifice was one they all had to endure, now they’re being told sorry, some of you have to do this but some of you do not.
HB19-1227 Prevailing Wage Working Group in Department of Personnel and Administration (Lee) [Benavidez]
KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR
Goal: To find the most efficient and appropriate manner to implement a prevailing wage requirement for state contracts and introduce this in the 2020 legislative session.
Creates a prevailing wage working group to meet after the 2019 session but before the 2020 session and determine the most efficient and appropriate manner to implement a prevailing wage requirement for state contracts. Group is consider how contractors and subcontractors can prove they are paying prevailing wages, how the state would confirm contractors and subcontractors are following federal contract law (if applicable), how to enforce the requirement and penalize those who do not comply, appropriate agencies to oversee program, and anything else the group deems necessary. Recommendations must be submitted to general assembly by the end of 2019.
Group is to consist of people chosen by the executive director of the department and personnel and the executive director of the department of labor.
First, we shouldn’t have workers getting paid less for government work than they would be for private work. That is all the prevailing wage standard is about. What the state pays can become a standard for non-state work as well. So making sure that we are paying state contracted workers a fair wage for their work is essential for ensuring that workers in these industries are paid a fair wage, period, and that lowered wages for government work don’t end up being lowered wages in general. There is a federal prevailing wage standard for work involving federal contracts and Denver has a prevailing wage standard and obviously is doing fine. In addition, a study in Indiana after they dropped their prevailing wage standard found that project prices stayed essentially the same, in large part because the gains from paying lower skilled workers were offset by efficiency losses from those same lower skilled workers.
In our capitalist system is important to let the market decide what jobs are worth because otherwise we artificially injecting money into the system and potentially propping up various industries that could not survive otherwise. This is also taxpayer money we are talking about here, and we may be paying more than we don’t stop this train right now. The fact that Denver and the federal government is willing to potentially waste taxpayer dollars shouldn’t mean that Colorado should jump in too.
HB19-1254 Notice Requirements Employees Sharing Gratuities (Fields, Priola) [McLachlan, Van Winkle]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To ensure that customers know when an establishment they are patronizing is forcing its staff to split tips with the employer.
Changes the requirement for employers who force employees to split tips with them from a sign posted in a prominent place to a notification to each customer in writing, potentially in form of a notice on a menu, table tent, or receipt.
Additional Information: n/a
The practice of forcing employees to split tips with their employer is legal, but it is most certainly something every customer should know about before deciding whether or not to give a place their business. A prominent sign is easily missed, we all don’t pay super close attention to all signs in places like restaurants, whereas written notification makes sure we are aware that tip money may not being going entirely to the employees.
The goal here is quite evident, to shame these business out of this perfectly legal practice. Some businesses may pay their employees higher wages in this scenario, whereby the tips are not expected to be partial wage replacement, but good luck communicating that on a card.
This may actually make it less likely that people see this. By requiring written notification but not specifying prominence the bill makes it possible to bury the notification on a menu where someone is even less likely to see it than under the current setup.
HB19-1270 PERA Public Employees' Retirement Association Board Assess Climate-Related Financial Risks [Sirota, Hansen]
KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
Goal: To have the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) examine the risks to its investment portfolio from climate change and take appropriate action to protect its investments.
Requires the PERA board to contract with an organization experience in public pension plans to conduct a study of how exposed PERA’s investments are to climate change impacts. Organization must have a history of unbiased results and disclose any association with publicly traded fossil fuel companies. Organization is to report to PERA (which must in turn report to general assembly) what risks the portfolio has and what actions PERA should take to mitigate these risks.
Climate related risks include material financial risks posed by effects of changing climate including intense storms, rising sea levels, higher global temperatures, economic damages from carbon emissions, and risks due to public policies to address climate change, shifting consumer attitudes, and changing economics of traditional carbon-intense industries.
We just had to cause everyone some pain last year in order to bring PERA within acceptable compliance with its liability in the near future. The last thing we need is for PERA to have an investment mix that causes lower than expected returns due to climate impacts, in particular our society’s efforts to mitigate these impacts by moving away from traditional fossil fuel industries toward renewables.
The bill seems like a play to disinvest from fossil fuel companies, dressed up in a comprehensive look at climate effects, which are so broad and far reaching that it would hard to say what the recommendations may look like. How do you reorient investments around expecting more frequent and harder hitting climate disasters? But the key is in the prohibition on a fossil fuel related organization the call to look at changing economics of carbon-intense industries. Our state economy relies on those very same industries for lots of jobs and economic activity. We should not be trying to pull public investment in these industries, especially if we aren’t going to do anything to help workers transition.
HB19-1273 Colorado Partnership for Quality Jobs and Services Act (Garcia, Pettersen) [Esgar]
KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR
Goal: To allow state employees to organize into unions by function across department lines.
Allows state employees to create partnership agreements. These are for a group of employees who have similar job classifications. Management, employees with access to confidential employer-employee relations, members of the Colorado National Guard, employees within division of labor who manage this plan, administrative law judges and lawyers, student employees, and temporary employees (less than 6 months) are excluded. Eligible employees can vote to be represented by a non-profit labor organization. A majority is required. If approved, this organization must have reasonable access to areas where its member employees work to hold meetings, post notices, and provide information, as well as attend new employee orientation. Employees in a partnership agreement are forbidden to go on strike, a work stoppage, or group sickout. The state must make payroll deductions for union dues, notify the organization of employee changes, and submit requests to the general assembly for funding if it is necessary. If the state and the organization cannot come to an agreement over a work contract, the process goes to arbitration. The arbiter’s decision is appealable in court. The state personnel director is tasked with enforcing partnership agreements and handling disputes over alleged violations.
Employees are set the following organizational groups:
- Administrative support and related services
- Enforcement and protective services, excluding state troopers
- Financial services
- Health care and medical services
- Labor, trades, and crafts
- Physical science and engineering
- Professional services
- State trooper
- The director of personnel is granted subpoena power for adjudicating disputes
- To request an election for representation, a qualifying non-profit must present the state with a petition of at least 30% of the employees in the group
- Elections must be within 30 days of a valid petition being received and are done by secret ballot
- If an election has multiple organizations on it (more than 2 options) and no choice gets a majority, a run-off will be held within 15 days of the first election
- No subsequent elections for a year
- Decertification election can be triggered by the same 30% petition process
- Certified organizations must represent all employees in their category, regardless of membership status
- Employees can start grievances on their own, but appeals must be handled by certified organization
- Certified organization is not required to represent any employee making a grievance
- Violating labor stoppage ban can result in decertification and ban from representing employees for 5 years
- State may not:
- Encourage or discourage membership in partnership agreement or take a position on any available choices for organizations to represent employees
- Expend any public resources in a campaign against an employee organization
- Interfere or restrain employees from exercising their rights to form a partnership agreement
- Retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint or for joining a partnership organization
- Refuse to participate in the partnership process
- State and employee organization will negotiate over improving employee recruitment and retention, employee compensation and benefits, and terms and conditions of work. Anything that requires statewide uniformity will involve all certified employee organizations but individual organizations may opt out and negotiate separately. Sole agency or department negotiations will be handled by a coalition of the affected employee organizations
- Only the partnership agreement submitted for ratification is subject to state open records laws
- If no agreement is reached after 90 days the state and employee organization may enter mediation. If no agreement after another 30 days they shall enter arbitration
- A panel of nine arbiters is to be created by the governor. These must be:
- Member of mutually agreed upon, respected, national non-profit:
- Alternative dispute resolution service or
- Organization of labor arbitrators
- Or has served as neutral hearing officer in labor and management disputes for at least three years and conducted at least five hearings per year
- Member of mutually agreed upon, respected, national non-profit:
- Arbiter selection is to be done by process of elimination, with each side alternating to eliminate one arbiter (employee organization gets first elimination) until one is left
- Arbiter must consider:
- Interests and welfare of the public and the financial ability of the state to bear any costs involved
- Lawful authority of state
- Stipulations of the parties
- Employee compensation, benefits, hours, and other terms of employment as compared to similar groups
- Cost of living
- Any claims of failure to bargain in good faith
- Other similar standards
- State and employee organization must split all mediation and arbitration costs
- Time limits may be extended by mutual agreement
- Only the arbiter’s final decision is subject to state open records laws
- The director’s decisions on grievances may be appealed to district court. Must be within 30 days of decision. Court may only overturn if it finds the director’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion, not supported by evidence, or not in accordance with the law
- Arbiter’s decisions can be appealed in district court. Court must uphold arbiter unless it finds: the decision was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means; the arbiter exceeded their authority; the decision violates public policy; the arbiter disregarded the law; or that the arbiter denied a party a fair hearing. A vacated decision results in a new arbitration
We already allow our teachers, police officers, and firefighters to organize into unions, so this does not set some sort of new precedent in terms of government employees able to collectively bargain for themselves. Changes in technology, the nature of the workforce, and demands for state services require the state to modernize the way it manages its employees. Our state workforce is aging and the state has struggled to effective recruit and retain younger employees. As in all industries, high turnover costs money: the state is losing millions in recruiting and training. Part of changing this dynamic is allowing our state employees to dialogue collectively with the state to improve their working conditions and possibly compensation. Through the process in this bill, the state will benefit from the innovations and creativity of front-line employees and at the same time will provide a mechanism for these employees to prosper, which will help keep them in their jobs (or advance to higher level jobs within the state). The bill protects against work stoppages, so we will never lose state services due to labor disputes. It provides for final dispensation of a dispute in form of an arbiter and the ability to appeal that decision. It provides for cases where the cross-department nature of these groups poses an issue. In short it dots the Is and crosses the Ts.
The decision over state employee wages, benefits, and working conditions is a matter of public concern, since the ultimate employer of every person who works for the state government is the citizens of Colorado. This bill removes the citizens of the state, through their elected representatives, from their ability to exercise any oversight into this process. Right now the legislature and governor, through laws and the state budget, make these determinations. This year’s budget, for instance, featured a 3% pay increase for state employees. If this bill becomes law, unions and the state itself will be making these decisions, or perhaps an arbiter elected by no one. While it is true that we already allow some collective bargaining for government employees, it is not close to this scale and not done by state government but rather by local governments and boards. The labor categorizations are also extremely broad, different departments and agencies have radically different mandates, and a one-size fits all solution for these categories may work badly in practice.
While this does allow state employees to collectively bargain and organize, it pulls the rug out from underneath them by prohibiting work stoppages, allowing employees to opt-out of membership and unions dues, and leaving final decisions in the hands of an arbiter that was selected by the state.
HB19-1299 Local Government Retirement Plan Contribution Rates (Donovan) [McCluskie, Rich]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To allow greater flexibility for local government employees in their retirement plan contribution rates.
Right now local government are required to contribute at least 3% of their employee’s salaries toward their retirement plan and employees are required to contribute no less than the local government (whatever it is). This bill changes the employee minimum to the same 3% and specifies that the two amounts do not have to be the same.
Additional Information: n/a
This provides much more flexibility for both local governments and employees. Right now they have to essentially agree on the withholding/contribution amount. If local governments want to contribute more, then employees aren’t forced to follow suit.
Contributions to retirement plans are a shared burden and the employee should be on the hook for just as much as the employer.
SB19-056 Veterans Employment Preference by Private Employer (Hisey) [Carver]
KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
Allows private employers to adopt a written policy of preference to veterans when hiring, promoting, or retaining employees as long as the veterans are equally qualified.
Long Description: n/a
Veterans have unique skills honed under pressure and make great employees. This law allows employers to have a stated preference for veterans so long as everyone is aware of it and the veteran is equally qualified. Finding veterans jobs post-military is greatly in the public interest and this helps. Codifying into law makes the practice fairer, as it requires employers to transparent about their hiring practices.
This bill codifies a system for preferring veterans where simple in-house thoughts worked fine. Now someone who either isn’t aware of this law or just has an informal preference for veterans is operating contrary to the law.
SB19-085 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (Danielson, Pettersen) [Buckner, Gonzales-Gutierrez]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Removes the authority of the director of the division of labor standards and statistics for enforcement of wage discrimination complaints based on gender and instead permits violated employees to bring civil lawsuits to pursue remedies. Exceptions are allowed if the employer can prove the difference is due to a seniority system, merit system, location, related education, travel requirements, special shift considerations, or a quantity or quality of production system. Also prohibits retaliation against an employee for asserting their rights under the bill. Courts are free to award up to six three years of backpay as penalty.
Employers are required to announce to all employees any advancement opportunities and the pay range. Bans employers from seeking wage or salary history information about an applicant or from requiring an applicant provide their wage or salary history. Requires employers to post a wage range for a job opening. Requires any prospective employee to be offered a salary within that wage range or if necessary, repost the job with a revised wage range. Employer must keep records of job descriptions and wages for each employee for duration of employment plus two years after employment ends. Penalties for violating these job posting requirements range from $500 to $10,000 per violation.
Long Description: n/a
Women in Colorado earn $0.86 for every dollar a man does. It’s worse for black women ($0.64) and even worse for Latina women ($0.54). This compounds over a lifetime of work. Equal pay for equal work could cut the poverty rate for working women in half. Pretending that the current system is doing something about this problem is silly, it’s been this way for a long time and is not substantially improving. This bill does two things to attack the problem: first, take the issue out of the hands of one person in state government and give women the opportunity to use the court system as a remedy. It also adds critical language around preventing retaliation to encourage women to come forward. Second, remove the old boys club from in-house promotions so that everyone has the ability to take advantage of them and make sure that the expected salary range is known, to prevent lowering it later if a woman happens to get the job. Furthermore, an enormous part of the wage gap in this country, whereby women earn less than men and minorities earn less than whites for the same work, is centered around employment wage history. Employers obviously want to pay as little as they can get away with and once a woman or a minority (or a minority woman) becomes stuck at a lower wage, it becomes much harder for them to get out. Because each subsequent job wants to know what they were previously paid and will happily continue to lowball them all the way up the chain. A forced choice (work at these level wages or don’t at all) is no choice at all.
This is a bonanza for trial attorneys in the state, who will happily be encouraging women all over to sue their employers anytime they find out that they make less money than a man in the same department. Removing the director’s ability to adjudicate these cases means they have to go to court. Some will undoubtedly have merit, but these can already be adjudicated by the director of the department of labor. Many will be frivolous and will waste the court’s time (and thus our taxpayer money) as well as pad the pockets of attorneys. The promotion notice is just a bunch of pointless hoops to jump through: if an employer wants to reward a particular employee with a promotion, they are going to anyway, this just makes them put on a show. The wage history ban and associated provisions is an extreme intrusion into the marketplace, where what you earn is what someone is willing to pay you for your work. If one person has higher levels of education and experience, it is natural for them to earn more money for a job. If they are seeking a new job, they are free to turn it down if they don’t like the salary offered (or negotiate a better one). No one is forcing them to take the job. They are also free to demand a raise, it’s a free country. The way to higher wages is through work experience, education (including certifications) and hard work. Not through more red tape.
SB19-106 Withdraw Peace Officers Local Government Retirement Plan (Zenzinger, Cooke) [Tipper, Larson]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Allows peace officers to withdraw from their local government retirement plan to join a retirement plan offered by the fire and police pension association.
Allows peace officers to withdraw from their local government retirement plan to join a retirement plan offered by the fire and police pension association. This requires a 65% 55% vote by all current employees who are peace officers and would be affected. This is triggered by the board of county commissions, and they can only do so once every four years. If the withdrawal passes, current peace officers who are on the local government plan can elect to stay there.
We already allow employers to withdraw from local government retirements plans under the same 65% rule, it makes sense to let police officers jump to the retirement plan negotiated by their union instead of being forced to stay in the local government plan. Keeping the 65% rule ensures that this is the true will of the entire local government police force (and those who don’t want to can still opt out).
Police officers should be able to opt out individually, not only if they can get a super majority of their brethren to agree.
This causes too much confusion for local governments, who have to keep track of individual plan designations.
SB19-171 Apprenticeships and Vocational Technical Training (Danielson, Bridges) [Sullivan, Galindo]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To create a publicly database of all apprenticeships available in the state.
Requires department of labor to create a publicly available database of all apprenticeships programs in the state, including application process, requirements for enrollment, costs, and program outcomes.
Additional Information: n/a
Apprenticeships are frequently required to advance in trades. This would provide a crucial boost in helping those who want to advance a vocational career to know in detail what their options are, beyond just a list.
This sort of already exists, if not in this exact form. There is a nationwide database maintained by the federal department of labor and the state has its own listing of apprenticeship opportunities on the department of labor’s website. At some point the hand holding has to stop, an adult should be capable of using these sorts of lists to find a program that will work for them.
SB19-173 Colorado Secure Savings Plan Board (Donovan, Pettersen) [Kraft-Tharp, Hansen]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To study the feasibility and effects of creating an automatic secure savings plan (similar to 401ks) run by the state.
Creates a nine person board tasked with studying the financial feasibility and effectiveness of a retirement savings plan in the form of an automatic payroll deduction IRA; an optional small business marketplace plan open to businesses with 100 or fewer employees; greater financial education among state residents; and the effects of doing nothing. Report to be delivered by end of next February.
The state would have no financial obligations under the IRA. Employers would not have to administer any plans. It would be opt-out (so people would be automatically enrolled at a 5% contribution if they do not have a retirement plan from their employer) and the ability for employers to match would be studied. Board is to consist of representative of state treasurer and eight people appointed by the governor. These are to have five people with expertise in investment or retirement savings plan administration, a representative of employers, a representative of employees, and a retired resident.
About ½ of Coloradans ages 25-64 working in the private sector lack access to a retirement plan at work. Workers are fifteen times more likely to save for retirement if they access to a payroll deduction plan at work. The days of employer pension plans are over, and the combination of these factors is a looming crisis. Seniors who cannot retire must continue working, which takes jobs away from young Coloradans entering the workforce. If they cannot continue working, then they must be supported by either their families (placing a huge burden on families already struggling to support themselves) or by the state, which is taxpayer money that could be used elsewhere. This bill seeks to prove the theory that if we simply offer all Coloradans an avenue to save money (and rely on well-established research that shows forcing people to opt-out is more effective than an opt-in program and oh by the way, Social Security is mandatory retirement plan you cannot opt-out of, so this is not unprecedented), we will make great strides toward addressing this problem. Because the key to retirement is the compounding effect from investing money early. Even smaller amounts, invested early, can grow. Just $10 a month, at a 6% annual return rate (the historical S&P 500 average is 12%), would leave someone with $103,034 dollars, with only 8%(!) of that total coming from contributions. Using investments to save for retirement is the great trick of the middle and upper classes and its time we open it up to everyone. As far as employer-offered benefit packages, right now just offering a 401k plan is strong benefit. If everyone has access to a similar plan, then to compete employers will need to offer more, such as matching benefits or higher wages.
This is just a study, but it is constructed to find out what the bill writers want, which is that a plan constructed like this will cause more Coloradans to have more money for retirement. Private employer sponsored retirements plans are opt-in, not opt-out. It is extremely well-established that many Americans do not realize when their paycheck grows or shrinks by small amounts. Thus American did not realize they had received a tax cut from the Obama stimulus plan and did not realize that they were getting more take-home pay from the Trump IRS decision to not adjust withholding tables fully after the Trump tax cuts were passed. So people may be in this plan and not realize it. This study may not find that more employers may drop their own sponsored plans in favor of just letting the state handle it. It may not find that full-time workers (a word that appears nowhere in the bill) are a completely distinct group from part-time workers and a one-size fits all approach may fail one or the other. It may not find that employees with varying compensation (tips, commission, or productivity-related) are not set-up for this kind of savings approach. And it may not find that some businesses might decide that Colorado is not the best place to locate their business due to the higher costs associated with this sort of plan.
Why are we bothering with a study? There was a bill in the last legislative session that did all of this, HB18-1298. It passed the House. What changed between now and then other than Democrats can control the Senate, where the previous bill failed?
SB19-188 FAMLI Family Medical Leave Insurance Program (Winter, Williams) [Gray, Duran]
AMENDED: Very Significant
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To create a medical leave insurance program that allows workers to take leave from work for a new child or serious medical condition or safety situation and still receive partial wage replacement, regardless of employer.
Creates Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) to provide partial wage replacement to eligible employees who take leave from work to care for a new child or family member or is unable to work due to their own health condition or safety situation (abuse or stalking) or situations arising from family member’s active duty service. Paid 50/50 60/40 by employees and employers. Creates a task force which is to study best methods of implementing a paid family leave plan. Must include actuarial analysis done by 3rd party and submit to state legislature next January. Bill requires family leave to go forward on same timing as original bill (funding beginning in 2023 and plan in 2024).
- Must not be receiving unemployment insurance, but can be eligible when unemployed.
- Can be eligible if working a second job.
- Maximum leave is 12 consecutive weeks (additional 4 2 for serious complications from pregnancy or childbirth), and no more than 14 total weeks in a calendar year (addition 2 for serious complications from pregnancy or childbirth). Caring for new child is separate event from serious health condition from pregnancy and/or childbirth.
- Benefits are 90% of wages that fall below statewide average weekly wage and 50% of wages that are above average. Maximum weekly amount is $1,000. This automatically adjusts in future to be 90% of average weekly wage. Second jobs do not count as part of this calculation. Wages include tips and commissions.
- Initial premium is 0.64% of employee wages (split 50/50 40/60 between employer and employee, pre-tax), up to 80% of existing Social Security cap. Then in 2023 and 2024, program director shall set premium to amount that will lead to total contributions of 150% of benefits paid in previous year plus 100% of administrative costs. In 2025 and future, total must be between 125 and 150% of all benefits paid in previous year plus 100% of administrative costs. Wage premiums are capped at 0.99%. Employers with less than 5 employees or are local governments pay 1/8th of employer premium; those with 5-10 employees or state government pay 1/4th.
- Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees that use this program and must give employee job back at end of leave (or equivalent position). Seasonal workers are excluded from this protection. Employers must maintain health benefits during leave.
- Employers can require that FAMLI leave be taken concurrently with employee-offered or federally mandated leave. Employers can structure their leave programs to offer 100% wage replacement based on combination of FAMLI benefits and employer paid wages. If employers already offer leave with 100% wages then it can be reimbursed for the benefits the employee would have gotten from FAMLI. No small business exemptions from program. Employers can opt-out if they have a private plan that offers at least the same benefits as the FAMLI program.
- Self-employed people can elect to enter the program, but must do so for a minimum of three years (and then at least one year in any subsequent enrollment). Can withdraw with 30 days notice. Pays only employee half of premiums.
- Local governments may opt-out of the program. Their employees can opt-in, but must do so as self-employed people.
- Anyone who is found to have lied to obtain benefits from the program is banned for a year and may have any benefits paid clawed back.
- Program is open to any Coloradan, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
- Serious health conditions are defined as: illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by health care provider. Includes stalking, domestic abuse, and sexual assault.
- Employee taking leave for something eligible for other benefits (like workers' compensation) has their FAMLI benefit reduced to 75% of the payments they are receiving.
- Leave for a new child is available during the first full year the child is in the home (whether from birth or adoption or guardianship).
- Active duty service issues include being called to active service, providing care to military member’s immediate family, making financial or legal arrangements for military member, attending counseling, attending military events or ceremonies, spending time with a military member returning from service, or making arrangements following death of military member.
- Family is defined as immediate family and domestic partners, but also including people who the individual has a personal bond that is like family. a child whom the individual was in loco parentis for, people who the individual is responsible for unpaid assistance and support tantamount to that provided by family, which must include either access or administration of medical care, a part of the daily life of the individual or a committed relationship (defined as shared financial responsibility and intent to stay together indefinitely).
- FAMLI wage benefits are not to be reduced due to employer paid leave programs (unless aggregate would exceed $1,000 maximum). Also must not reduce based on voluntary paid sick or personal days the employee elects to take. Employers cannot force employees to use paid sick or personal days.
- Benefits might be considered taxable income by IRS. If this happens, individuals can request withholding from FAMLI program, just like employers do.
- False claims result in disqualification from program for one year and repayment of any benefits received.
- Program is exempt from TABOR as an enterprise program, so collected benefits do not count towards TABOR revenue cap.
The U.S. is the only one of 41 high-income countries to not offer paid leave to new parents, and one of few nations worldwide to offer no guaranteed paid sick leave. Colorado’s economy functions on the backs of its working families and functions best when those families are able to participate in the economy. When someone has to go on leave, and does not have a salary, they cannot spend in their normal way the economy as a whole suffers. Not only that, nearly ½ of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck and cannot access more than $2,000 in an emergency. Unpaid leave can be a crippling blow. Or families face the horrible decision of not being able to properly care for themselves or a family member while continuing to work. This bill will give those on leave partial wage replacement so they can continue to live as close to a normal life as possible. On top of this economic benefit, this is just the right thing to do. All of us get sick, all of us will have a family member go through a serious medical event. It’s just life, so all of us will eventually benefit from this program, just like Social Security. And so, like Social Security, the bill splits the burden between the people using the program and employers and caps salary contributions at the Social Security cap. The bill also gives employers the flexibility to tailor their leave programs to provide 100% wage replacement, so no employer will be forced to overpay an employee on leave. In addition, employers who offer full leave will actually get a large benefit back in terms of the FAMLI funds the employee would have taken. This is also not a "tax", it is an insurance program, where money you pay in is then available to you later in specific circumstances where you need it. it is clear that a full program needs more study to convince those who are currently reluctant that the plan will not cost much more than the sponsors believe. This bill achieves this without altering the original implementation timeline.
This tax increase (money removed from a paycheck or charged to business that is collected by the government is a tax) skirts TABOR by excluding it from the TABOR caps and it leaves the director of the program the ability to make the premium whatever is required to fund the program. This amounts to a blank check to fund this new entitlement program, no matter what the costs. And while it is true that we all have family members who die and many of us do eventually experience health problems, the match between these things occurring while we are still in the workforce or requiring leave from the workforce may not be 1 to 1. So some people may very well never use this program in their lives, despite being forced to pay into it. The program also could be crushing for small employers. Federal leave law exempts businesses under 50 people because it rightly recognizes that a small business may not be able to simply hire someone else or use existing employees to cover for an employee on leave, especially for three straight months. There are also some potentially large loopholes for people to take advantage of in the program. Someone with a family-like bond is not a family member and is a very vague definition to boot. Best friend? Roommate? Neighbor? Yoga instructor? There’s a lot of grey area here to potentially exploit in the definition of family, even as amended. The daily living standard is open to some interpretation and could bring in a larger group of acquaintances than we would want. And while we all honor the sacrifices our military families make, employers may think twice about hiring someone who has a family member in the military if it means they may have to give 12 weeks of leave every time the military member returns from active duty, regardless of where that duty was. The serious medical condition also has a potentially large loophole, in the form of continuing treatment by a health care provider making someone eligible. That is the entire definition. In theory this could include any type of mental health therapy for any family member (and again, someone with a family-like bond), physical therapy for a condition that does not at all affect someone’s ability to work (workers’ compensation is not mentioned anywhere in the bill), or pregnancy of any family member or someone with a family-like bond (a physical condition requiring continuous treatment). The bill should not include requirements to go ahead, of course these can be changed later, but we should have the flexibility to ditch the whole thing is need be.
We should be proceeding with the guts of the plan now, not wasting time and money on a study we all know will result in roughly the same actuarial analysis we have now (since the sponsors carefully did all of this already) just to placate some people who are fence sitting.
SB19-196 Colorado Quality Apprenticeship Training Act of 2019 (Lee, Danielson) [Garnett, Duran]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To ensure that large state contracts adhere to apprenticeship training standards and that integrated project delivery contracts are based on sound footing wages are paid promptly and meet prevailing standards.
Creates a $1 million dividing line for public contracts. Under the line and the state can use a standard open bidding process. Over the line and the state must use a sealed competitive best value process or integrated process delivery. Adds evaluation factors for determining best value: craft labor staffing plan, anticipated utilization of apprentices, and safety plan and safety record of bidder. Documentation must be submitted demonstrating proven record of graduating apprentices for at least 3 of past 5 years at escalating percentages set by bill. Contractors may request a waiver from apprenticeship requirements. Agency must make all granted waivers public along with rationale for granting it. All projects, regardless of size, must submit top 5 subcontractors planned to be used and all mechanical, sheet metal, fire suppression, sprinkler fitting, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing subcontractors period. For integrated project delivery contracts (agreement between agency and contractor to do multiple aspect of project together, like design and construction), agency must also consider past performance and experience of bidder, project management plans, staffing plan, safety plan and record, job standards, and availability of domestically produced manufactured goods to execute contract. Also requires state contracts of over $50,000 $500,000 to pay workers at least weekly based on prevailing wages. Wage scale must be prominently posted at work site. Must also adhere to and post apprenticeship contribution rates. Violations get 15 days to fix or face penalties. All only applies only to state contracts. Does not apply at all to Department of Transportation.
All of this is specifically unless it conflicts with federal law or federal requirements. Top 5 subcontractors are determined by cost as percentage of total cost. Contractors agree to provide state access to their records if necessary to prove apprenticeship utilization. Failure to post wage scale is $100 fine per day. Failure to comply with wage requirements is $5,000 for 1st violation, $10,000 for 2nd, and $25,000 for all subsequent violations. Must also supply back pay for violated employee. Repeated violations can led to black listing for three years. Apprenticeship contributions are deducted from prevailing wage to avoid double-payment.
Apprenticeship is extremely important in the construction industry and can be difficult to break into. The state should be encouraging it with its own large projects to help develop the state’s workforce. This is particularly true as we face labor shortages in the construction industry. Many of the skilled or craft trades in this industry have apprenticeship requirements and we need to bolster the workforce of the future that is going to build our roads and buildings. We also shouldn’t have workers getting paid less for government work than they would be for private work. That is all the prevailing wage standard is about. What the state pays can become a standard for non-state work as well. So making sure that we are paying state contracted workers a fair wage for their work is essential for ensuring that workers in these industries are paid a fair wage, period, and that lowered wages for government work don’t end up being lowered wages in general. There is a federal prevailing wage standard for work involving federal contracts and Denver has a prevailing wage standard and obviously is doing fine. In addition, a study in Indiana after they dropped their prevailing wage standard found that project prices stayed essentially the same, in large part because the gains from paying lower skilled workers were offset by efficiency losses from those same lower skilled workers.
By definition apprentices are not as skilled as full-blown workers. The state should not have to pay for inferior work, let apprentices continue to develop as they are now: leave it up to the industry to do what it thinks is best. In our capitalist system is important to let the market decide what jobs are worth because otherwise we artificially injecting money into the system and potentially propping up various industries that could not survive otherwise. This is also taxpayer money we are talking about here, and we may be paying more than we don’t stop this train right now. The fact that Denver and the federal government is willing to potentially waste taxpayer dollars shouldn’t mean that Colorado should jump in too. It is particularly intrusive to set pay period requirements as well, plenty of businesses run just fine on semi-monthly or monthly pay periods and employees get the same amount of money either way. If an employee can't manage their own funds sufficiently to get through two weeks or a month when they are given it in larger batches, that is not the employer's fault.
SB19-260 Entry into FPPA Fire and Police Pension Association for Social Security Employers (Zenzinger, Cooke) [Tipper, Larson]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To allow law enforcement or fire protection employer that is eligible to participate in the Social Security Supplemental Plan to offer employees ability to participate in Fire and Police Pension Association defined benefit plan instead.
Allows law enforcement or fire protection employers that are eligible to participate in the Social Security Supplemental Plan to offer employees ability to participate in Fire and Police Pension Association defined benefit plan instead. An employer that elects to do this must get approval of at least 65% of all active eligible members who vote in an election for the plan. Employees may remain in the supplemental plan by choice but new employees must join the defined benefit plan.
Additional Information: n/a
The Supplemental plan offers reduced contributions and thus reduced benefits. In short it’s not as good a retirement plan but does take less money from employers and employees to fund it. We should allow these affiliated employees into the Fire and Police Pension Association plan if they want to, trading off higher contributions for a more secure retirement.
This pension plan was designed specifically for the front-line individuals, not affiliated employees. It should not be expanded in this way.