On Friday, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed the "Keep Jobs in Colorado Act," which would increase protections for the state's working families and help make sure that taxpayer money stays in the state. The bill reforms the state contracting system, requiring state agencies to focus on more than the bid in contracting and to include other factors that would help the state's workers, such as wages and benefits.
Colorado law already requires that 80% of workers on state-funded construction projects must be state residents, but supporters of the new bill say that law rarely has been enforced because the only penalty for violating the law was jail time, something enforcement officials were reluctant to pursue. The new law lays out a series of civil penalties—up to contractor disbarment for extreme offenders. Exceptions to the 80% requirement already exist if employers can show there is not sufficient labor in-state for a particular project.
Republicans largely opposed the bill, which also requires contractors to provide proof of the country of origin for materials used in construction projects.
“This really was my number one priority coming into this legislative session,” said state Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood). “We need to do everything we can to keep and create jobs in Colorado and make sure our taxpayer dollars are being used as wisely as possible.”
The Colorado AFL-CIO applauded the passage of the bill:
“Gov. Hickenlooper signing the ‘Keep Jobs in Colorado Act' is an important victory for Colorado workers, their families and the state economy,” said Mike Cerbo, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO. “After six years of crafting these policies, we are excited to join the governor as he signs a momentous bill for all of Colorado.”