(March 17) – The House Business Affairs & Labor Committee voted on 7-6 party line votes to approve two bills that target aspects of the wide gender wage gap in Colorado.

HB16-1001, the Equal Pay in State Contracts Act, sponsored by Reps. Jessie Danielson and Janet Buckner, requires any company that receives a state contract to give women equal pay for equal work. The bill is cosponsored by every single House Democrat and moves the state to lead by example to close the gender wage gap in Colorado.

“Women earn only 80 cents on the dollar to men in Colorado,” said Rep. Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge. “The Equal Pay in State Contracts Act sets a standard that we can be proud of. It is high time that women and men get paid equally for the same work.”

“Equal pay is an issue that the majority of Coloradans stand behind,” said Rep. Buckner, D-Aurora. “This bill is the first of many steps to close the wage gap. Colorado should lead by example by holding the state accountable to provide equal pay. If we as leaders can provide this example, we will show our children that if they work hard, they will be rewarded equally.”

HB16-1166, Fair Pay From the Start, sponsored by Reps. Brittany Pettersen and Faith Winter, ensures that prior pay discrimination does not perpetuate wage loss for women or men by prohibiting an employer from asking a job candidate’s salary history.

“Despite the laws we already have around equal pay, the wage gap persists,” said Rep. Pettersen, D-Lakewood. “There are many factors that contribute to the wage gap and this is a very important first step. This bill is about changing the conversation and allowing women to start salary negotiations on equal footing.”

“Many women face decreased wages from the day they start a job,” said Rep. Winter, D-Westminster. “By prohibiting employers from asking pay history, decisions on pay will be based on qualifications, experience and expertise—not just salary history. This empowers women to have better, more fair wage negotiations while still allowing employers to have those negotiations.”

“Millennials entered the workforce during the worst economy in generations,” Rep. Winter continued. “They should not be punished their entire lives for this bad luck.”

The bill as amended gives businesses a choice: if they must know a candidate’s salary history, they must post the position’s salary range. Knowledge of a job’s salary range adds transparency to negotiations so that a woman is not underpaid solely because of her prior salary.

The 7-6 votes send the bills to the House floor for second reading.

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