Majority Leader Esgar’s bipartisan bill to support coal workers and communities passes committee
DENVER, CO– The House Business Affairs and Labor Committee today advanced Majority Leader Daneya Esgar’s bill to invest millions into helping communities transition. This bill is part of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus, a package of legislation that will invest roughly $800 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger. The bill passed by a vote of 10-3.
“As market forces, consumer choices, and environmental policies move our economy toward renewable energy, we can’t leave workers and communities behind,” said Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “As a representative of Pueblo, I know firsthand how much support will be needed to help my community transition into the clean energy economy of the future. The bold investment we’re making today lays the groundwork for a smoother and more equitable transition.”
The Office of Just Transition was created by the legislature in 2019 to support coal workers, employers, and communities as they plan for the future closings of coal plants and mines upon which their communities depend. As market shifts, consumer choices and environmental policies move our state toward renewable energy, the Office and the Just Transition Action Plan were created to ensure a smooth adjustment for our coal transition communities.
HB21-1290, also sponsored by Rep. Perry Will, R-Garfield County, would invest $15 million of state stimulus funds into the Office of Just Transition. Of that amount $8 million will go to the Just Transition Cash Fund and $7 million to the newly created Coal Transition Worker Assistance Program account within the fund.
The bill requires the Office of Just Transition to use these funds to implement the Just Transition Action Plan and provide funding for existing programs that make targeted economic development investments in coal transition communities for business retention, creation, expansion and attraction; infrastructure investments; and strategies for attracting increased investment in these communities. In turn, the Coal Transition Worker Assistance Program’s share of the funding will be allocated to programs that directly assist coal transition workers, including apprenticeship programs, financial planning support, tuition reimbursements, job search assistance, on the job training, or other strategies to help workers transition to as prosperous a future as possible.