A bill that would give preference when considering state contract bids to companies that hire Colorado workers is headed to the House after passing
Many Democrats consider the bill, which the Senate approved April 11, among their flagship job-creation bills this session, but some opponents say the bill unfairly blocks competition and makes the state look unattractive to businesses
SB1, known as the Helping Individuals Realize Employment (HIRE) Act, would give preference to companies seeking state contracts when 90 percent of the company’s employees are Colorado-based workers, and the company offers apprenticeship opportunities and provides “quality benefits” such as medical and
When the state seeks work contracts of more than $1 million, the bill would allow the state to give companies up to a 5-percent “discount” or preference on their bids when they meet
certain criteria. The contractor must hire at least 90 percent Colorado residents to get a three-percent preference. The contractor would get an additional 1-percent preference for providing health care and retirement benefits, and another 1-percent preference if the workers have access to an apprentice training program approved by the United States
Department of Labor.
Senate sponsor Evie Hudak, D-Arvada, said the bill gives in-state workers better access to jobs.
“We have plenty of trained and qualified Coloradans looking for jobs and ready to work. The HIRE Act will ensure that we are using our state dollars to prioritize the hiring of workers here in Colorado and that we are reinvesting these dollars in our state’s economy,” she said.
The bill received wide Democratic support, but not all Democrats were convinced. Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, voted against the bill, saying it was unrealistic and restrictive for small subcontractors.
“I do support hiring locally, but a bigger contractor is going to pass down the work to smaller subcontractors. This bill says the little guys have to provide full health care and retirement benefits, but many cannot afford to do that,”
The bill will now go to the House, where Reps. Su Ryden, D-Aurora, and Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, will sponsor the bill.
According to the Senate Majority Office, 26 states currently offer some kind of preference process for
The HIRE Colorado Act is one piece of the Senate’s Colorado Works Jobs package, which includes several bills that focus on job creation and economic growth issues. Another component of the package, the Buy American Act, passed the Senate Monday. The bill offers a similar “discount” preference system to companies bidding on state contracts when they purchase American-made