Below, you can read a summary of the legislation that created the Office of Just Transition and the Just Transition Advisory Committee.
House Bill 19-1314: Just Transition Support for Coal-Related Jobs
Prime Sponsors: Representatives KC Becker and Rochelle Galindo; Senators Faith Winter and Kerry Donovan
Passed by the Colorado General Assembly in the 2019 Regular Session
Signed by Gov. Jared Polis in May, 2019
Summary of Intent:
● Recognizes that coal has played a central role in the generation of electrical power in Colorado, but that the power sector is now moving away from coal to cleaner and less expensive sources of electricity.
● Acknowledges that the transition away from coal could have significant negative effects on Coloradans with coal-related jobs and Colorado communities that rely on the coal industry as a major source of jobs, tax revenues, and economic activity.
● Declares that strong and comprehensive policies are needed so the State can fulfill its “moral commitment to assist the workers and communities that have powered Colorado for generations, as well as the disproportionately impacted communities who have borne the costs of coal power pollution for decades, and ... thereby support a just and inclusive transition.”
● A coal transition community is “a municipality, county or region that has been affected in the previous twelve months, or that demonstrates it will be impacted in the next thirty-six months, by the loss of fifty or more jobs in total from a coal-mine, coal-fueled electrical power generating plant, or the manufacturing and transportation supply chains of either.”
● A coal transition worker is “a Colorado worker laid off from employment on or after the effective date of this section in a coal-mine, coal-fueled electrical power generating plant, or the manufacturing and transportation supply chains of either.”
● A disproportionately impacted community is “any community of color, low-to-middle income community, or indigenous community that is or has been directly impacted by coal pollution.”
Creation of Advisory Committee:
● Creates the “Just Transition Advisory Committee (JTAC) to develop and recommend a just transition plan for the state of Colorado.” Directs the JTAC to submit a draft version of that plan to the executive directors of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) by July 1, 2020.
● Further directs the JTAC, in the process of developing the draft plan, to consider options that:
○ Align local, state and federal resources and programming, and leverage additional resources and programming, to invest in and support coal transition workers and coal transition communities.
○ Establish benefits for coal transition workers, including consideration of:
■ Benefits similar to those available through provisions of the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program
■ Creation of new “wage differential benefits” for coal-transition workers.
○ Educate workers on how to apply for just transition benefits.
○ Establish a grant program and other programmatic support for coal transition communities and organizations that support them.
● Further directs the JTAC to identify:
○ The costs and benefits of each component of its plan.
○ Sources of funding for its plan.
○ The potential fiscal, economic, workforce and other implications if the components of its plan are later extended to other sectors and industries affected by similar economic disruptions.
○ Which components of the plan may require additional legislative authority to
● Outlines membership of the JTAC and sets terms and other conditions of service. Directs that the JTAC’s 19 members will include:
○ Representatives of the Governor’s Cabinet and Office, and of the Colorado General Assembly;
○ Representatives of coal transition workers;
○ Representatives of coal transition communities;
○ Representatives of utilities that use coal to generate electricity,
○ Persons with professional experience in economic development or workforce retraining
○ Representatives of disproportionately impacted communities
● Directs the JTAC to meet at least once every quarter, and sunsets the JTAC on Sept. 1, 2025. Creation of Just Transition Office:
● Establishes the Just Transition Office in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) to:
○ Administer the Just Transitions program for Colorado.
○ “Identify or estimate ... the timing and location of facility closures and job layoffs in
coal-related industries” and make recommendations for how to “most effectively respond to these economic dislocations.”
○ Appoint members of the Just Transition Advisory Committee, and support the work of that committee.
○ Submit to the Governor and General Assembly the final Just Transition Plan by December 31, 2020, based on the draft plan developed by the JTAC and with the approval of the executive directors of CDLE and DOLA.
○ Engage in administrative proceedings that are relevant to the purposes of the office, including matters before the Public Utilities Commission and the Air Quality Control Commission.
○ Participate in CDLE’s annual SMART Government Act hearings.
○ Recommend to the General Assembly and Governor legislative changes that would allow the office to better achieve the purposes of HB 19-1314.
Other Key Provisions:
● Creates a Just Transition Cash Fund to fund the work of the Just Transition Office and the Just Transition Advisory Committee, and to help fund implementation of components of the State’s Just Transition Plan. Permits the office to seek, accept and expend gifts, grants and donations form public and private sources to support this work.
● Requires certain utilities to submit workforce transition plans to the Just Transition Office and affected communities within a specific number of days after approving the accelerated retirement of an coal-fueled electric generating unit.