Eli Stokols

DENVER — Senate Republicans again reminded their Democratic colleagues what it’s like being in the minority as they voted Wednesday afternoon to do away with the Pay Equity Commission, arguing that it’s a feckless body that hasn’t accomplished much.

Democrats, while ostensibly angry about the 5-4 party-line vote by the GOP-controlled Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee, are already returning to their oft-used narrative that the GOP is hostile to women by scrapping a body charged with rooting out gender discrimination in the workplace.

“Hard working women across Colorado deserve better than they got from the Republican Colorado Senate majority today,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, director of Progress Now. “We call on the General Assembly to immediately take up a new bill to continue the vital work of Pay Equity Commission to its conclusion. There is too much at stake for this short-sightedness.”

“The commission was charged with researching the ongoing problem of pay inequity in Colorado and developing best practices both for private industry and the state of Colorado to ensure women and men receive equal pay for equal work. Republicans disregarded the opinion of witness after witness, the mountain of studies proving that pay inequity remains a problem, and even the state’s own experts to come to this terrible decision.”

Colorado labor leaders also sounded off.

“It is unconscionable that, in these modern times, women do not have the same rights as men or that we need a commission to oversee that they do,” said Mike Cerbo, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO.

“Senate Republicans and members on this committee speak about creating a stronger economy. This vote shows that those same members do not support the basic principles of economic fairness which in itself leads to a stronger economy.”

While Democrats who wanted to maintain the commission argued that it’s vital in forcing businesses to follow anti-discrimination laws, conservative opponents pointed to a report from the Colorado Dept. of Regulatory Agencies that concluded the panel had made “minimal progress” toward its end goals.

“There is not a single person who wants any group or gender to be paid less for equal work,” said Kelly Maher, Executive Director of Compass Colorado. “The Pay Equity Commission, however, not only didn’t meet its statutory obligations, it perpetuates misnomers about equal pay in Colorado, and unnecessarily vilifies Colorado’s businesses.”