Women Thriving. Colorado Rising.

2021 Legislative Priorities

Through a nonpartisan and gender-focused approach to public policy, we will use the following criteria to identify the specific bills we will support to advance Colorado women and their families. 

  • Does it address root causes of poverty and promote economic security?
  • Does it improve Colorado's tax and budget policies to allow for sufficient resources to be dedicated to WFCO priorities?
  • Does it promote and protect issues and rights aligned with the core values of WFCO?

 

Early child care worker looking over young child paintingEarly Care and Education (ECE) Promotes Economic Security

Colorado’s early care and education sector is experiencing a shortage of qualified workers. Think it’s just a problem for working parents? There’s a ripple effect to the health of our economy. Everyone relies on someone who relies on child care and it’s an essential ingredient for the growth of women's economic mobilty and all businesses. This has never been more true following the COVID-19 global pandemic. To get more people into child care careers and rebuild the sector, it’s going to take multiple strategies.

With input from our cohort of direct-service and public-policy grantees, over 50 ECE and workforce development experts, and public sectors across the state, WFCO will continue to prioritize legislation that will advance the sector.

 

SB21-236 Increase Capacity Early Childhood Care & Education – The bill creates four new grant programs to increase the capacity for early childhood care and education, improve recruitment and retention rates for early childhood educators, and improve salaries for educators.

  • The employer-based child care facility grant program
  • The early care and education recruitment and retention grant and scholarship program
  • The child care teacher salary grant program
  • The community innovation and resilience for care and learning equity grant program

Colorado Women Going ‘Diaper to Diaper’

At the beginning of the pandemic WFCO established the Women and Families of Colorado (WFCO) Relief Fund. The fund distributed grants to 102 organizations throughout Colorado. Many of the organizations noted the barriers to accessing basic needs for members of their communities including diapers and diaper essentials like wipes and diaper creams. Recent research found that access to diapers is a top concern for working mothers. WFCO has prioritized the passage of SB21-027 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families to establish a grant program for nonprofit entities to administer diaper distribution centers throughout the state.

Tax Fairness Catalyzes Economic Security

As we turn to recovery from the pandemic, we can put money in the pocket of tens of thousands of Colorado workers, small business owners, and families who are still struggling. Tax credits are proven to not only boost income for families but help kids do better in school, and even lead healthier lives and earn more money as adults. WFCO supports the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the funding of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to ensure that low-income people have access to more resources to support their families.

 

See below for all of the bills we're taking a position on in support of these priorities. Our top three priority bills have been highlighted: 

Bill Status was last updated on June 14, 2021. Please either contact Alison Friedman Phillips, director of programs, at alisonp@wfco.org with questions or visit the Colorado General Assembly’s website to search for a bill’s most recent status.

 

 

Status Key:
Bill is activeActive Bill failed Failed Bill passedPassed signed iconSigned Bill vetoed Vetoed

 

 

Active: Introduced, in process
Failed: Will not move forward this session
Passed: By Colorado State House of Representatives and Senate
Signed: By Colorado Governor
Vetoed: By Colorado Governor

 

Here's What We're Taking Positions on in 2021:

 Bill #
Title 
What It Does
Why We Have Taken A Position
WFCO Position
Status
HB21-1054 Housing Public Benefit Verification Requirement

Expanded opportunity for immigrant economic engagement.

Through WFCO’s COVID Relief fund and WAGES grantees, WFCO has learned that many Colorado women and their families risk being unhoused because of their immigration status. This bill creates an exception for those who are not able to verify lawful presence to access public housing. Support signed icon
HB21-1105 Low-income Utility Payment Assistance Contributions

This bill will allow for more support for Coloradans who need energy assistance.

WFCO learned from the WFCO Relief Fund that many Colorado families are struggling to pay for their basic expenses – like their electric and power bills Support Bill passed
HB21-1108
Gender Identity Expression Anti-discrimination

This bill modifies the definition of sexual orientation and adds gender expression and gender identity to statues prohibiting discrimination against members of a protected class.

Two of WFCO’s key values are equity & inclusion. Prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity will allow for a more inclusive economy and society. Support signed icon
HB21-1117
Local Government Authority Promote Affordable Housing Units

This bill would allow municipalities in Colorado to require a certain number or percentage of affordable housing in new developments.

Lack of access to affordable housing has consistently been identified as a top barrier to women’s economic security by WFCO WAGES grantee partners and the pandemic exacerbated housing instability across Colorado. Support Bill passed
HB21-1222 Increase the Supply of Family Child Care Homes

This bill requires local regulatory entities to treat family child care homes as residences.

Between 2002 and 2018, Colorado has lost more than 11,600 licensed slots in family child care homes. By reducing burdensome regulatory requirements, this bill could allow for an increase in family child care homes. Support Bill passed
HB21-1311 & HB21-1312 Income Tax & Insurance Premium Property Sales Severance Tax

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are two tools that provide tax relief to low-income families.

WFCO supports expanding eligibility for the EITC and funding the CTC to ensure that low-income people have access to more resources to support their families. To do this, Colorado can update and modernize our tax code to be more equitable. Support Bill passed
HB21-1304 Anna Jo Garcia Haynes Early Childhood Act

Establishes a unified early childhood system for Colorado and state-level early childhood agency

The creation of a Department of Early Childhood at the state level will allow for Colorado to provide more accessible, affordable, and high-quality child care and early childhood education in our state. Support Bill passed
SB21-009 Reproductive Health Care Program

This bill expands access to family planning services through Medicaid to include undocumented Coloradans who are income eligible and improving access to contraceptives for all who are eligible for family planning services through Medicaid.

In alignment with WFCO’s reproductive statement and our longstanding support for improving access to family planning care, these efforts would allow for more individuals to access vital family planning resources. Support Bill passed
 SB21-016 Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage

This bill will allow for individuals to more easily access vital preventive services and avoid surprise billing.

In alignment with WFCO’s reproductive statement and our longstanding support for improving access to family planning care, these efforts would allow for more individuals to access vital family planning resources. Support Bill passed
SB21-025 Family Planning Service for Eligible Individuals

This bill expands income eligibility for family planning services through Medicaid to cover moderate income Coloradans.

In alignment with WFCO’s reproductive statement and our longstanding support for improving access to family planning care, these efforts would allow for more individuals to access vital family planning resources. Support Bill passed
SB21-027
Emergency Supplies for CO Babies and Families

This bill requires the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to select one or more nonprofit organizations to administer diaper distribution centers to provide $4 million in funding for diapering essentials to low-income families.

WFCO learned from the WFCO Relief Fund that many Colorado families are being forced to decide between buying food and diapers. Support Bill passed
SB21-029 Colorado American Indian Tribes In-state Tuition

This bill requires a state institution of higher education to offer in-state tuition to students if the student does not have Colorado residency but is a member of an American Indian tribe with historical ties to Colorado

According to The Economic Status of Women in Colorado 2018 report, only 22% of Native American women in Colorado had obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 45.4% of white women. Support Bill passed
SB21-039 Elimination of Subminimum Wage Employment

The sub-minimum wage is an unlivable wage that is legally allowed to be paid to employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities by employers that hold certificates that authorize them to do so. It is currently set at 15% lower than minimum wage.

Starting this summer, the bill would require employers with sub-minimum wage employees to submit a plan to the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment detailing how they plan to phase out the sub-minimum wage by 2025. It would also prohibit an employer from hiring employees at the sub-minimum wage. Support Bill passed
SB21-077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing

Consistent issue that arises in conversations around supporting the workforce is the importance of culturally competent care. This includes communities where family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) care is often depended upon instead of more formal care.

This bill eliminates the requirement of lawful presence to become a licensed child care provider and to obtain license, certification, or registration to practice other regulated professions. Support signed icon
SB21-148 Creating of Financial Empowerment Office

Millions of women and their families are trapped in a vicious cycle of debt perpetuated by the limits society has placed—and still places—on their capacity to build and generate wealth. As a result, current efforts to minimize income and wage disparities must also incorporate strategies on mitigating gender wealth gaps.

Offices of financial empowerment (OFE) offer proactive tools to build financial health
and resilience. OFEs have been shown to help clients lower their debt, increase savings, and reduce the risk of foreclosures and evictions.
Support Bill passed
SB21-176 Protecting Opportunities and Workers' Rights Act

Similar to WFCO’s past support of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act and the paid family and medical leave ballot measure, there are systemic changes and protections that should be addressed to allow for full participation of women in the workplace.

This bill makes several changes to strengthen the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. Of particular interest to WFCO are stronger protections: Against sexual harassment in the workplace, for workers who experience age discrimination, and for workers with caregiving responsibilities. Support Bill failed
SB21-193 Protection of People in Perinatal Period

The infrastructure for all families to thrive during the perinatal period does not yet exist. This is especially true for families of color, Indigenous families, undocumented families, and people who are low-income.

Structurally addresses inequities that lead to poor outcomes, human rights violations, and system failures related to birthing justice. Support Bill passed
SB21-194 Maternal Health Providers

The infrastructure for all families to thrive during the perinatal period does not yet exist. This is especially true for families of color, Indigenous families, undocumented families, and people who are low-income.

Structurally addresses inequities that lead to poor outcomes, human rights violations, and system failures related to birthing justice. Support Bill passed
SB21-199 Removing Barriers to Certain Public Opportunities

This bill allows undocumented Coloradans access to professional and commercial licenses and allows these individuals to in some cases access public benefits.

If passed, this will allow for more Coloradans to fully participate in the economy and increase the supply of culturally competent early care and education providers. Support Bill passed
SB21-236
Increase Capacity Early Childhood Care & Education

The bill creates four new grant programs to increase the capacity for early childhood care and education, improve recruitment and retention rates for early childhood educators, and improve salaries for educators.

Everyone relies on someone who relies on child care and it’s an essential ingredient for the growth of women's economic mobilty and all businesses Support Bill passed
SB21-251
General Fund Loan Family Medical Leave Program

This bill mandates a re-payable loan from the state’s general fund to the division of family and medical leave insurance for the purpose of implementing the state's paid family and medical leave program

A long-time WFCO policy priority, this bill will allow for the implementation of the ballot measure that passed in 2020 to establish a statewide paid family medical leave insurance program. Support Bill passed

 

Join Us

WFCO invites you to join us in leading systemic change on behalf of women and their families. Through a unified voice we can influence positive community outcomes. Stay tuned for updates before, during, and after the session, and in the meantime, here's how you can help support our advocacy efforts!

  • The Womanifesto. Download and share our nonpartisan voter handbook.
  • Help inform the conversation. Share WFCO’s recent research that is informing our advocacy work.
  • Vote and advocate. Read our civic engagement guide to learn how you can make a difference, from voting to how to contact your legislators.
  • Join us to learn more. Attend an upcoming community education event and sign up for our eNewsletter to receive information and updates.
  • Follow and share. Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram for policy updates throughout the year and participate in Facebook Live discussions with our programs team.
  • Share your ideas with us. Let us know when you see a challenge in your community that could be improved by a policy change, email us at wfco@wfco.org.

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