Gov Signs Bills to Boost Edu Workforce, Revitalize Commercial Centers

Gov signs bill to create new career pathways for workers to enter the renewable energy industry

DENVER, CO-– Governor Polis today signed four bills into law that will boost the educator workforce, create new pathways for students to fill renewable energy jobs and offer $72 million in grants to revitalize commercial centers through projects that construct, or convert older buildings into, new mixed use spaces.

SB21-185, sponsored by Representatives Julie McCluskie and Barbara McLachlan would reduce the teacher shortage in Colorado by helping districts recruit and retain new teachers. The law creates the Educator Recruitment and Retention (ERR) program in CDE to provide eligible ERR participants up to $10,000 for the tuition cost of participating in an educator preparation program. It also creates the Teacher Recruitment Education and Preparation (TREP) program to increase the number of students entering the teaching profession and create a more diverse educator workforce. Finally, the law charges the University of Colorado with establishing and operating an educator well-being mental health program to provide support services for educators.

HB21-1104, sponsored by Representatives McLachlan and Colin Larson, extends the renewal period for professional educator licenses from five to seven years, without lowering the standards or requirements for licensure. The law ensures that those teachers who are approaching the end of the renewal cycle will not have to worry about renewing their license for another two years. 

“Today, the governor signed the most significant legislation in years to invest in our educator workforce and recruit and retain the talented teachers our students need to thrive,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “Even before the pandemic, Colorado struggled to attract and retain educators due to the high cost of living here and our near bottom in the nation funding levels for public education. The programs we’re creating will offer new opportunities and pathways for people to become educators in Colorado.”

“I’m proud that Colorado is going to invest millions to retain and attract new educators and help our school districts offer the high quality education every student deserves,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “Teachers are vitally important in our young people’s lives, and we need to attract the best people we can to this critical profession and do what we can to help them stay in teaching jobs.” 

HB21-1149, sponsored by Representatives Dominique Jackson and Brianna Titone, calls on the Colorado Workforce Development Council to work with local workforce boards, school districts across the state, the Colorado Department of Education, community colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning to create and implement a career pathway for students in the renewable energy sector. The bill invests $5 million into the career pathway so institutions of higher learning and workforce development authorities can implement what is known as the Strengthening Photovoltaic and Renewable Careers, or the SPARC program.

“The renewable energy sector is growing fast, and companies are hiring lots of Coloradans with the right training and skills,” said Rep. Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora. “We have a tremendous opportunity as our economy recovers to create new career pathways for workers, particularly those who have been displaced by the pandemic, to enter the renewable energy sector and fill good jobs. The bill the governor signed today will do exactly that by offering students the tools and skills they’ll need to fill jobs and build careers in the renewable energy industry.”

“This session, we focused on how we can help Coloradans and communities across our state bounce back stronger,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “The two bills I sponsored that Governor Polis signed into law today will create jobs in the renewable energy industry and revitalize commercial centers with new spaces for vendors, performance arts, housing and businesses.” 

“It’s exciting that $72 million in grants will soon be out the door to fund construction projects that will revitalize commercial centers in communities across Colorado, creating jobs and opportunities for businesses,” said Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver. “This grant program is going to boost commerce, provide new workforce housing options and grow local economies across our state.”

SB21-252, sponsored by Representatives Brianna Titone and Susan Lontine, would create the Community Revitalization Grant Program within the Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) and Department of Local Affairs and provide it with $72 million in Colorado Comeback State Stimulus Funding, in addition to allowing gifts, grants, and donations to be contributed into the fund. The program’s grants would help revitalize our main streets and downtowns by providing funding for creative construction and revitalization projects that combine commercial spaces with community spaces. 

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