PRIMARY 2018: Money mattered in statehouse races

The dome at the Colorado state Capitol in Denver. 

The Colorado House gave preliminary approval to a family leave bill Monday, but not one that actually creates the state-run wage-guarantee program.

Faced with opposition from business groups and Republicans, Senate Democrats turned the insurance program into a task force to study its feasibility and, more importantly, it's solvency.

The study would shape legislation next year to create the insurance program.

Democrats say people on the lower end of the income scale often lose their jobs and financial security when they or a loved one get sick, or when they have a child.

Under the pre-amended plan in Senate Bill 85, workers and employers would have split the premiums to provide up to three months of paid leave.

"It offers safe leave," said Rep. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, one of the sponsors. "Whether you are a waitress, a nurse, a fast-food worker, or a doctor or a lawyer, you should have access to paid leave."

Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, the bill's co-sponsor, characterized the task force as a step forward on the issue.

"I've not heard one person say it shouldn't happen," he said. "The problem, as with just about every idea, everyone who says it should happen doesn't have a feasible, implementable way to make this a reality in people's lives."

Short of attacking the bill, House Republicans opted to offer an alternative: pre-tax leave savings accounts.

Democrats voted down the amendment to allow employees and employers to make payroll deductions and qualify for a tax credit.

"This would allow for individuals to take responsibility for their lives and put away money," said Rep. Susan Beckman, R-Littleton.

The bill needs a final vote in the House, and if it survives unamended, it would go to Gov. Jared Polis to be signed into law.

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