House OKs Equal Pay in State Contracts

(March 22) – The Equal Pay in State Contracts Act, which requires any company that competes for a state contract to adhere to equal pay standards, passed on voice vote this morning.

HB16-1001 is cosponsored by every single House Democrat and pushes the state to lead by example to close the gender wage gap in Colorado.

“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 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 bill sets a standard that a business must not pay any of its employees at wages less than the rates paid to other employees on the basis of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, or national origin for substantially similar work. The bill also sets the standard that an employee cannot be disciplined for sharing information about wages and that for any job posting the business must post the salary range for the available position.

Republican members of the House, including Assistant Minority Leader Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park, argued against the bill on the basis of privacy concerns and existing state equal pay laws, though with Colorado women earning only 80 cents on the dollar earned by men, it’s clear that the existing laws aren’t working.

Immediately after the Equal Pay in State Contracts debate, the House passed a resolution recognizing the contributions of American women by designating March as Women’s History Month. The co-prime sponsor, with Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, was Rep. Lawrence. She did not say whether she thought American women deserved a 20 percent discount.

The bill proceeds to the House floor for third reading.

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