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Colorado Ready to Work 2.0
Last year, the General Assembly passed a bipartisan package of legislation called “Colorado Ready to Work.” These bills focused on education, training and outreach to make sure our workforce aligns with the jobs that our growing economy is producing.
We’re back at it this session. Last week, we introduced another 10-bill package—Colorado Ready to Work 2.0—that will create additional opportunities for employers and employees to succeed.
The focus of this year’s package is to encourage businesses to become more involved in the process of equipping Coloradans with the skills and training to step into good-paying jobs that are available but not being filled. We hope that more Colorado companies will take a larger role in the development of the next generation of workers in collaboration with K-12 schools, higher education and labor. The best way to increase wages is to ensure job seekers have marketable skills for Colorado’s top industries. We have companies that must seek employees from outside the state because not enough Coloradans have the right set of qualifications. It’s time for us to work with all stakeholders to change that and forge new partnerships.
I’m especially excited about our bill to update standards for the teaching of computer science and digital literacy in our K-12 public schools and provide incentives to teachers to get the training they need. Today, Colorado has more than 16,000 open computing jobs, yet only one in four Colorado high schools teach computer programming. The average salary for one of these jobs is $92,000.
And we’re not forgetting about those who are often the most difficult to employ, or who have been in the workforce for years but need new skills. Another effort reauthorizes ReHire Colorado, a bill that I was the prime sponsor of in 2013, which has effectively moved people from welfare to work through training and job placement for veterans and seniors. Extending ReHire Colorado until 2022 will help approximately 3,000 additional Coloradans find permanent employment.
Every one of these bills has strong bipartisan support. That’s as it should be. A thriving economy is not just a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It’s a Colorado priority.
Here’s a complete list of the bills introduced:
Industry infrastructure grant program HB16-1288 (Kraft-Tharp/Tate): Works toward a system in which businesses are engaged in the education system as centers of learning and drivers of career-focused education content. Creates a matching grant program within the Colorado Workforce Development Council to assist industry associations to define industry competencies and collaborate to facilitate training and education in the classroom and the workplace.
Computer science and digital literacy HB16-1291 (Lontine & Duran/Hill & Johnston): Directs the Department of Education to update content standards to include tech skills and creates a voluntary resource bank for schools and districts that want to start or expand computer science programs for students. Also creates a grant program for public school teachers in Colorado to pursue additional education that will enable them to teach computer science courses. Colorado public schools have standards in 10 content areas, but the current system lacks guidance for technology and computer science.
Incentives for student success HB16-1289 (Esgar & Duran/Crowder & Garcia):Creates a pilot program wherein school districts receive a $1,000 bonus for each high school student who (1) earns an industry certification tied to an in-demand job, (2) finishes a rigorous workplace training program tied to key industry needs, or (3) successfully completes a Computer Science AP course. After Florida adopted a similar incentive program, the number of students earning industry certifications each year rose from 800 to 45,000 in just five years, with some of the biggest gains for underserved groups like rural students, minorities and students living in poverty.
Apprenticeship study HB16-1287 (Rosenthal & Wilson/Cooke & Kefalas): Directs the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to study ways to increase the use of apprenticeship programs by Colorado businesses and to make a report and recommendations based on the study.
Extension of ReHire Colorado HB16-1290 (Esgar & Kraft-Tharp/Hill & Heath): Extends the ReHire Colorado program, which provides job training to help Coloradans find gainful employment and transition off of government assistance. The program helps the economic recovery reach the Coloradans who need it most, focusing on helping veterans, seniors and non-custodial parents secure long-term employment.
Tax credit for apprenticeships HB 16-1301 (Garnett/Scheffel): Provides an income tax credit to qualified Colorado businesses that integrate quality apprenticeships into their workplaces. Companies must offer high-paying, in-demand jobs as identified by the state Workforce Development Council.
Colorado Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act HB 16-1302 (Duran & DelGrosso/Newell): Aligns state statute with the federal “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.”
Aligning student academic plans with career pathways SB16-079 (Martinez Humenik & Todd/Young): Directs the Department of Education to collaborate with the community college system to more effectively align postsecondary and workforce readiness initiatives, so that students graduate with the tools they need to be successful in their future career and academic goals. This bill has passed the Senate and was introduced in the House this week.
Clarifying license pathways for mental health professionals HB 16-1103 (Kraft-Tharp & Landgraf/ Martinez Humenik & Todd): Clarifies and streamlines the pathway to licensure in the mental health professions. The bill has passed its first House committee and was sent to the Appropriations Committee.
Qualifications for licensed electricians HB16-1073 (Duran & DelGrosso/Scheffel & Guzman): Modifies the license renewal process for electricians by requiring continuing education rather than an assessment. The 24 hours of training will better equip electricians with the skills they need to be successful in their profession.
Just over a month ago, Colorado House Democrats elected women to the top two posts on our leadership team. Never before have women served as Speaker of the House and Majority Leader in our state's history.
When I decided to run for office five years ago, I didn't expect to become Chair of the Joint Budget Committee nor be elected by my fellow legislators to be the Majority Leader.
I am honored by the trust my colleagues have placed in me and I have a great responsibility to them and to the people of Colorado. I am especially looking forward to working with our Speaker-Designee Dickey Lee Hullinghorst to strengthen Colorado's middle class.
As we put the election behind us, I hope that we can begin the next session with a conversation about what Republicans & Democrats are for, instead of what one party may be against, so together we can pass legislation on behalf of our neighbors, our families and our communities. Our success will not be determined by political polling or pundits, but rather by how we come together to deliver results to ensure Colorado has an economy that works for everyone.
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." ~Winston Churchill
We recently served meals to the homeless at the Denver Rescue Mission & dropped off supplies to Rosa Linda's 30th Annual Thanksgiving Feast for the Needy! Please consider giving back to our Denver community this holiday season and throughout the year!
A PRODUCTIVE SESSION 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
96% of bills that passed had bipartisan support.
As the prime sponsor and in collaboration with other legislators, the following bills have been signed, or will be signed, by Governor Hickenlooper:
Affordable Child Care HB1317
This bill will enable more Colorado families to go from welfare to work. In some instances, Colorado parents pay as much as $14,000 per child per year for quality child care. HB 1317 creates tiered reimbursement programs that incentivize and reward successful, high-quality child care programs and ensure that families with lower incomes receive more state dollars to help struggling parents remain in the workforce. The bill also lowers copayments for families with incomes below the federal poverty level and implements policies that support parents' efforts to find and keep a job. Thanks to the Colorado Children's Campaign, the Colorado Center on Law & Policy, and child care providers across the state who weighed in on this policy.
Increased Access to Reasonably Priced Housing HB1017
This bill increases the availability of reasonably priced housing through tax credits for developers and the establishment of a housing investment trust fund and housing development grant fund. The Joint Budget Committee invested an additional $4.2 million towards building or redeveloping affordable housing in Colorado. Thanks to housing advocacy groups, developers, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the Colorado Housing Finance Authority for your strong support of this legislation.
Promotion of Electric Car Charging Stations Through Grants SB28
Last session, I passed legislation to give consumers a tax credit when they purchase cars that have a positive impact on the environment. This session's bill will build more electric car charging stations in public places, continuing my work to promote electric cars.
Colorado Creative Districts HB1093
This bill established the Creative District Community Loan Fund and made an investment of $100,000. The Office of Economic Development will make loans or loan guarantees from the newly created Creative District Community Loan Fund to develop, construct or redevelop commercial real estate, mixed used projects or community facilities for state-certified creative districts like the Santa Fe Art District or the RINO Art District.
Authorize Shooting Range to Be Built in Grand Junction HB1275
This bill authorizes the Parks & Wildlife Commission to purchase property to build a multi-use shooting facility in Grand Junction. As a sixth-generation Coloradan from a family of hunters, I know the importance of continuing to promote outdoor activities that are part of our state's heritage.
Medical Marijuana Health Effects Grant Program SB155
This bill invests dollars to study the potential therapeutic and medical benefits of marijuana and help physicians better understand the biochemical effects of prescribed marijuana.
Recreational Marijuana Tax Proposal SB215
This bill invests recreational marijuana tax revenues into substance abuse treatment and efforts to reduce substance abuse among adults and teenagers, including an advertising campaign to warn Coloradans about the effects of marijuana. The bill also invests dollars in the development of a financial services network for marijuana businesses.
As chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee, I'm especially proud of this year's budget, which will help every community in Colorado. Whether it's assisting with flood and wildfire recovery, making historic investments in our education system, or increasing economic opportunity and security for all Coloradans, this bill will help move our state forward long into the future.
This year's budget:
Colorado Budget Invests in Girls and Women to Reach Their Full Potential
By Alvina Vasquez
2013 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
A message from Rep. Crisanta Duran about this year's historic legislative session:
We kicked off this year's legislative session with the promise that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules should be able to have access to economic opportunity and the American dream. It has truly been a historic session. With your support, I worked to:
Because of your continued support, I have been able to accomplish these goals. It is truly an honor to serve and I'm proud to bring the values of our state forward.
May 21, 2013
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