(March 24) – House Democrats advanced two bills to tackle the equal pay gap in Colorado over strong Republican opposition this morning.

Despite policies outlawing pay discrimination, women still only make 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man doing equal work. The Equal Pay in State Contracts Act earned final approval from the House on a party line vote of 34-29, with two Republican members excused. HB16-1001, cosponsored by every single House Democrat, sets new equal pay standards and requires that any company that conducts business with the state must adhere to them.

“This bill is about equal pay for equal work,” said Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, who shares prime sponsorship of the bill with Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora. “State government should lead by example by setting high standards and helping close the pay gap for women and Coloradans of color.”

“The Equal Pay in State Contracts Act ensures that our tax dollars go to companies that pay equal pay for equal work,” Rep. Buckner said. “Pay discrepancies are not unique to Colorado, but I believe Colorado should be a leader in fighting for equality.”

The House then gave approval on second reading to HB16-1166, Fair Pay from the Start, after contentious debate on the floor. Eight Republican members of the House spoke from the well against the bill, some multiple times. Fair Pay from the Start gives employers a choice—they must post a salary range for any available position or they are prohibited from asking a candidate’s salary history.

“This bill is not only important for women but millennials who started their careers during the Great Recession and started their salaries on unequal footing,” said Rep. Brittany Pettersen, who is prime sponsor of the bill along with Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster. “This bill is an important first step to achieve equal pay for equal work. Allowing potential employees to disclose their salary requirements and not their pay history ensures they will not be bound by past inequities.”

“Since this bill has been introduced, we’ve heard from women across the state about how they have been harmed by the perpetuation of low salaries,” said Rep. Winter. “This bill ensures that when there is a pay gap, it is not perpetuated your entire life and your salary is based on experience, background, and qualifications. We cannot wait while generations of women are being paid less than they deserve.”

Equal Pay in State Contracts now proceeds to the Senate and Fair Pay from the Start awaits third reading vote.

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