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April 26, 2024

Bills to Support Colorado's Workforce, Higher Education Students Pass House

DENVER, CO – The House today passed two bipartisan bills to support workforce development and higher education. 

HB24-1365, sponsored by Representative Meghan Lukens, would help communities address workforce shortages and create connections for Coloradans seeking high-paying, skilled careers. SB24-164, sponsored by Speaker Julie McCluskie, would improve transparency surrounding higher education costs and reduce barriers to completing higher education degrees or certificate programs.

“Over the years, Opportunity Now grants have sparked job growth and supported rural and mountain communities like in Northwestern Colorado,” said Rep. Meghan Lukens, D-Steamboat Springs. “As we build new roads, bridges, businesses, and affordable housing – the demand for highly-skilled construction only increases. This bipartisan bill outlines the final round of funding for the grant program and has an important focus on the construction and building trades to meet the needs of our communities. This bill will save Coloradans money as they pursue good-paying jobs in the construction industry and fill critical workforce shortages.”

HB24-1365, also sponsored by Representative Matt Soper, R-Delta, passed the House by a vote of 55 to 8. This bill supports the fourth and final round of the successful Opportunity Now Colorado grants. The goal of this bill is to connect more Coloradans with in-demand, high-wage careers, specifically in the construction, infrastructure and building trades.  

This bill also creates the Regional Talent Summit Grant Program to help Coloradans get connected to these in-demand careers in their communities and establishes a workforce shortage tax credit to help with facility and equipment improvements needed to train workers in new, emerging fields by leveraging federal investments outlined in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS and Science Act and others. Opportunity Now is a grant program that has awarded $27 million to 46 grantees representing 145 businesses and 78 education partners in 38 different industries.

“This bill would bolster the student bill of rights to ensure that students transferring from any institution, whether a community college or four-year university, receive credit for the courses they have taken at other institutions,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “We need to ensure the higher education system prioritizes student success, and this bill improves transparency and academic credit transfers.” 

SB24-164, also sponsored by Minority Leader Rose Pugliese, R-Colorado Springs, passed the House by a vote of 59 to 4 This bill would make it easier to transfer college credits, improve transparency in higher education reporting, and ensure rights for students enrolled in postsecondary institutions.

Transparency requirements include:

  • Transparency of the cost of postsecondary education

  • Seamless transfer of general education and transfer pathway courses

  • Transparency regarding if credits are accepted or rejected from an institution, and

  • The ability to appeal an institution’s decision not to accept transfer credits

A major challenge transfer students face is the transferability of postsecondary credits. On average, transfer students lose a full semester of credits, which translates to time and money lost. There are current methods that exist within Colorado’s higher education framework to ease transitions between higher education institutions such as transferable lower division courses, common course numbering, and guaranteed transfer pathways. SB24-164 would build on this framework by bolstering student rights and easing the transfer of course credits.

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