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May 1, 2024

House Passes Bills to Boost Colorado’s Workforce

DENVER, CO - The House today passed legislation sponsored by Representatives Jennifer Bacon and Shannon Bird to strengthen our workforce and reduce recidivism by ensuring Coloradans who have served their time can re-enter our workforce, acquire professional credentials, support their families, and succeed in their careers. HB24-1004 passed by a vote of 64-0.

The House also passed a bipartisan bill sponsored by Representative Jenny Willford that would create a refundable state income tax credit and grant programs to boost registered apprenticeship opportunities. HB24-1439 passed by a vote of 45-19.

“This legislation is crucial in bridging the gap between workforce shortages and Coloradans with a criminal history who are trying to break their way out of cycles of incarceration,” said Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, sponsor of HB24-1004. “Current Colorado law makes it difficult for Coloradans with criminal records or histories to qualify for certain careers, reducing their ability to find a good-paying job. With this legislation, we’re streamlining the process for the consideration of Coloradans in these careers to make it easier for them to successfully re-enter our communities and to reduce recidivism.”

“We’re committed to addressing workforce shortages in critical industries, which is why we’re passing this legislation to make it easier for people with criminal records to qualify for careers in crucial sectors like health care and construction,” said Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster, sponsor of HB24-1004. “This bill would build on our previous laws that strengthen processes for regulators so we can employ previously incarcerated Coloradans in key areas. With this legislation, previously incarcerated Coloradans will have an easier path to success and industries will have more qualified candidates to choose from to fill job vacancies.”

HB24-1004 establishes a uniform process for considering criminal records in occupational registration, certification, and licensure applications. The bill includes a wide range of careers from the construction and banking industries to IT. The bill prohibits regulators from automatically refusing to grant or renew a license based on an applicant’s criminal record unless the applicant’s conviction is directly related to a specific element that is still relevant at the time of an individual’s application.

Reps. Bacon and Bird passed a 2022 law to ensure that when pursuing a credential, applicants were only denied based on their criminal history if that history would hinder their ability to do their job safely and competently.

HB24-1439, also sponsored by Representative Ron Weinberg, R-Loveland, would create a refundable state income tax credit for eligible employers starting in tax year 2025.

“Colorado has made a lot of progress in our efforts to expand apprenticeship opportunities, and this bill would help employers offset the costs of creating high-quality registered apprenticeships to connect Coloradans with on-the-job experience and address workforce shortages,” said Rep. Jenny Willford, D-Northglenn, sponsor of HB24-1439. “By creating a tax credit for employers in new and emerging industries, they can offer apprenticeships that pay a wage so Coloradans can earn money while they learn the ropes of their chosen industry. This legislation would allow us to help local businesses keep their doors open and create a stronger workforce with in-demand skills to keep our communities running.”

This income tax credit is available to businesses operating in a new and emerging industry with a registered apprenticeship program. HB24-1439 would also create the Scale-Up Grant Program to start new or expand existing registered apprenticeship programs and the Qualified Apprenticeship Intermediary Grant Program to connect employers or apprenticeship program participants to registered apprenticeship programs. 

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