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2019 Legislative Results: A Win for Women in the Workplace

// May 8, 2019

Momentum Made for Women, Families, the Economy

The 2019 Colorado legislative session will be remembered for many things, including an unprecedented female-majority House and the first session under the leadership of a new governor. The Women’s Foundation of Colorado (WFCO) will remember it for the traction made for women in the workplace.

WFCO supported 18 bills, 16 of which passed that will elevate access child care, make work really work for Colorado women and employers, and propel economic opportunity. We are proud that many of these policies earned bi-partisan support, with recognition that they will positively impact Colorado women, families, and our economy.

Our Priority Policies Passed!

WFCO dedicated lobbying resources to three bills that supported women in the workplace. All are on their way to Gov. Polis’ desk to be signed into law. We have supported iterations of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act and FAMLI for many years and their passage in 2019 demonstrates that women’s progress takes patience, persistence, and partnership. We’re in it for the long haul.

Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act is a major step forward for Colorado women and a solution that works for our entire state. Molded by input from employees and employers, it is among the most comprehensive equal pay protections in the country. It provides an unprecedented opportunity for Colorado women to be paid what they’re worth by reducing the likelihood that pay disparities will follow them to a new job and throughout their career.

FAMLI Family Medical Leave Insurance Program

The amended FAMLI Act paves a path toward implementation of a paid family leave and medical insurance program for all Colorado workers. The bill creates a family and medical leave implementation task force and calls for an analysis of options for administration of a paid leave insurance program. Although the bill shifted into an implementation study bill, WFCO is pleased with this progress. No prior paid family leave policy in any form has advanced to this point; Colorado is on the way to implementing a safety net for women in the workplace (and all Colorado workers) to provide care to loved ones at critical times, seek necessary medical treatment, and remain employed.

Child Care Educator Tax Credit

96 percent of early child care educators in Colorado are low-income working women who don’t make enough to meet their basic needs despite being a vital segment of our workforce. Their inadequate pay contributes to a high turnover rate and instability in the child care industry, which in turn negatively affects the quality of care children experience and disrupts parents’ employment. Keeping childhood educators in the field, with good pay, is key to providing high-quality education and care for Colorado kids.

There Is Work Still To Be Done for Women in the Workplace

Each bill paves clear pathways toward economic security for more Colorado families, but there is more work to be done. The child care crisis in Colorado must be addressed on multiple levels; tax credits are just one form of public investment and many more innovative approaches are necessary to overhaul a broken system. As the Equal Work for Equal Pay Act approaches implementation in January 2021, WFCO plans to be a resource for employees and employers. Lastly, we look forward to working alongside employees, employers, policy experts, economists, private insurers, and several other stakeholders to shape a viable future for FAMLI in Colorado.

See our entire 2019 legislative results.

Statewide Partnerships Were Key

Thank you to our statewide partners who join us as we drive toward equity and advocate for progress toward prosperity for women in Colorado, including 9to5 Colorado, the Bell Policy Center, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Colorado Children’s Campaign, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, Executives Partnering to Invest in Children, Young Invicibles, Colorado Women’s Bar Association, Frontline Public Affairs, our public policy committee members and advisors, and our regional committee members and advocates.

We are grateful to those who make our public policy work possible: Women’s Funding Network; The Chambers Fund, a donor-advised fund of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado; Women Give – United Way of Larimer County; and generous individual donors.

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado is a nonpartisan organization. We elect to submit a 501(h) form to declare our activities related to lobbying to ensure that we are within IRS guidelines.

Photo by Peggy O’Neill-Jones

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