DENVER (AP) – Colorado House Republicans quashed a centerpiece of the Democrats’ jobs agenda this session – a measure that would’ve granted bidding preferences to companies that hired state workers.
The bill’s demise on a party-line vote Wednesday came as no surprise because it had no Republican support when Democrats advanced it out of the Senate.
The bill would have given bidding a 3-percent bidding preference to companies for state service and construction contracts worth more than $1 million if they proved at least 90 percent of the workers were Colorado residents.
Companies would get an additional 2-percent preference in bidding if they provided health care and retirement benefits, a provision Republicans argued was aimed at favoring unions.
Republicans argued the bill was protectionism that would prompt other states to retaliate. The opponents said the measure would hamper competition, leading to higher costs for the state because companies with lower-priced bids could lose.
“The last thing Colorado’s job creators and small businesses need in this economic climate are more roadblocks,” said Republican Rep. Jim Kerr, the chair of the panel that rejected the Democrats’ proposal.
A similar Democratic bill failed last year.
“This is an immediate, fast and direct way that we can create jobs,” said Democratic Rep. Su Ryden, a House sponsor of the bill.
Democrats maintained that their goal was to use state dollars to stimulate the local economy and help lower the unemployment rate. Colorado’s unemployment rate is 7.8 percent. The national rate is 8.2 percent.
“We have an obligation to work on behalf of our constituents and get citizens back to work,” said Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. She said her bill would’ve accomplished that.
Many business groups opposed the bill.
LINK: Senate Bill 1
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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