(March 9) – Overcoming Republican objections, Rep. Jessie Danielson’s bill to continue the state’s Pay Equity Commission won voice-vote approval in the House this morning.

Senate Republicans voted in January to eliminate the commission, the only forum in Colorado where businesses, employees and community leaders have been coming together to work toward helping women and minorities achieve equal pay for equal work.

Rep. Danielson’s bill, HB15-1133, would restore and strengthen the Pay Equity Commission.

“We have an opportunity here to make growing the middle class a bipartisan priority, to recognize that an important part of growing the middle class is to make sure that women are paid equally for equal work,” Rep. Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, told the House. “Continuing this commission, or not continuing this commission, is a statement about whether the people’s representatives believe that this conversation is worthwhile and should continue.”

Several Republican legislators, notably Reps. Kit Roupé, R-Colorado Springs, and Clarice Navarro, R-Pueblo, argued against the bill during floor debate today. Rep. Roupé claimed the commission was “fostering the state structure,” while experts note that closing the pay gap would foster economic growth.

For hundreds of thousands of Colorado women and their families, pay inequality is a threat to economic security and membership in the middle class. A 50-state federal report released in January found that the pay of Colorado women compared to men in the same jobs has fallen to 78 cents for every dollar made by men, lagging below the 82 cent national average. Black and Latina women were even further from parity, earning 68 and 53 cents, respectively, on the dollar earned by men in the same jobs.

“When women are being paid what they’ve earned, our entire economy benefits,” Rep. Danielson told the chamber.

After a recorded vote, the bill will go to the Senate.

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