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January 30, 2023

Workforce Bills Pass Committee

DENVER, CO – Two workforce bills to support Colorado workers today passed House committees. HB23-1094, sponsored by Representative Meghan Lukens, would boost the agriculture workforce, and  HB23-1072, sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Velasco, would ensure disaster emergency response workers are compensated for time working a disaster. 

“Colorado’s agriculture industry is critical to our state’s economy,” said Rep. Meghan Lukens, D-Steamboat Springs. “Our bipartisan bill works to train, educate and uplift the next generation of agricultural workers through hands-on internships and training. Colorado’s future in agriculture is strong, and by ensuring a pipeline toward careers in farming and ranching, we will support our farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses by helping them fill critical open positions in their operations while creating new opportunities for people who want a career in agriculture.” 

“When disasters strike, local community members are the first on the scene to provide services and support,” said Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs. “This bill makes sure disaster emergency first responders, volunteers and organizers are compensated for their work. These civil defense workers are ready at a moment's notice to provide assistance to their community during a wildfire or flood and they should be paid for their time on the job.”

HB23-1094 passed the House Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources committee by a vote of 12-1 and would modify the Agricultural Workforce Development Program which provides financial incentives to farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses to hire interns and provide them with hands-on training and the experience needed to pursue a career in agriculture. This bill aims to jumpstart a lifelong career in agriculture and deepen the workforce pool by increasing the duration of paid internships to up to one year instead of six months.

HB23-1072 passed the House State Civic, Military and Veterans Affairs committee unanimously and would change the legal definition of “civil defense worker” so those assisting in the local response to disaster emergencies can be paid for their work. 

In Colorado, civil defense workers respond to disaster emergencies, including wildfires, floods and severe weather in addition to man-made disasters. Workers that are registered with the Office of Emergency Management or local response units are not currently eligible for compensation from their employers when they directly respond to a disaster. 

This bill allows civil defense workers, often registered crisis response volunteers, to receive pay from their employers when they respond to future disasters.

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