#Coleg Notebook: Pay equity commission killed; cyber harassment bill dodges religious freedom amendment

Senate Republicans still hate the pay equity commission

After much debate and even a little bipartisan support in the House, a bill to continue the state’s pay equity commission died along party lines in the Senate State Affairs committee yesterday. The commission, which Senate Republicans have now voted twice to discontinue, is supposed to study gender- and race-based inequity in wages and to propose legislation and business practices to narrow that gap.

Republicans on the committee said they voted against continuing the commission for the same reason their colleagues on the business committee did over two months ago — namely, because it failed to recommend solutions to the worsening problem of pay inequity.

“Over the last five years, when the commission was in effect, they had seven statutory responsibilities and they only got to half of them. They weren’t doing what they needed to do,” said Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling.

Rep. Jessie Danielson, D- Wheat Ridge, was behind the bill to continue the commission in the House. Had her bill passed, the commission would have been granted a full-time staff person, which Danielson said would have gone a long way to uppig productivity on the commission and making it possible for it to complete its best business practices and wage equality recommendations list for legislators.

Danielson called Republicans opposition to the commission “indefensible” and stated in a release: “Killing the Pay Equity Commission is a slap in the face to all Colorado women.”


Anti-cyber harassment bill was nearly a pro-RFRA bill

H/T Kristen Wyatt at the AP, who was the first to report that in passing a bill to update current harassment codes to include “indirect” harassment through social media, Senate Republicans also tacked-on an amendment to protect all “religious or philosophical” speech.

No way, said Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, who served on the joint House-Senate conference committee to hammer out a compromise on the bill.

Ultimately, House Dems agreed to let the provision stay as long as there was a clarification that only speech already protected under the First Amendment would qualify. The revised cyber harassment bill will now head back to both chambers for final approval.


Keep your testing reform bills straight 

With no fewer than ten proposals on standardized testing reform/ reduction/ opt-outs circulating at the Capitol — and with lawmakers’ allegiances to each changing by the day, if not the hour — it can be a test for reporters and lobbyists and everyone else just to keep it all straight.

Chalkbeat came to the rescue with a nifty tracker: Click to become less confused.


Activists rally at the Capitol on Equal Pay Day in 2014.