(May 24) – Rep. Pete Lee’s legislative focus on jobs and the economy was rewarded today when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two of his economic development bills into law.

HB13-1292, known as the Keep Jobs in Colorado Act and sponsored by Rep. Lee (D-Colorado Springs) with Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver), will require state agencies to weigh overall “best value,” not just price, in their consideration of competitive bids on state contracts. Factors will include the use of Colorado workers and Colorado products to complete the contract, as well as the wages, health care and other benefits paid to those workers.

“This new law makes sure more Colorado taxpayer dollars stay in Colorado, supporting Colorado businesses and putting Coloradans to work,” Rep. Lee said.

Among its other provisions, the bill modifies a Colorado law, on the books since 1933, requiring that Coloradans make up 80 percent of the labor on Colorado public works projects. Enforcement of the law was spotty because its criminal penalties could mean offending CEOs would go to jail. As amended by HB13-1292, the law includes a schedule of fines and a prohibition on repeat-offender companies from bidding for state contracts, encouraging enforcement and compliance with the “80 percent” rule.

The new law also includes a reciprocity clause to treat companies from other bid preference states the same as Colorado companies are treated in those other states. Twenty-eight other states award bid preferences to in-state bidders.

HB13-1003, sponsored by Reps. Lee and Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo), is the so-called Economic Gardening bill, named by the former Littleton city official who came up with the concept and used it to spur local job growth at more than double the statewide rate.

The new law creates a pilot program through the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade to provide management and technical training and consultation to up to 20 “second stage” Colorado businesses – 6- to 99-employee concerns that can demonstrate significant growth potential.

“My intention with both these bills is to strengthen Colorado businesses, which will make our state’s economy more robust and put more Coloradans back to work,” Rep. Lee said.

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