Colorado’s minimum wage boost, and three notable laws for 2015

January 1, 2015
Photo: The Colorado Capitol on New Year's Day 2015
The Gold Dome atop the Colorado Capitol.

Coloradans earning minimum wage will get a raise of 23 cents an hour in the new year, bringing the total to $8.23 an hour. That’s almost a dollar more than the federal minimum wage.

The raise comes from a 2006 constitutional amendment that ties the state’s minimum wage to inflation. Roughly 80,000 Coloradans earn minimum wage.

While a 23 cent raise might not seem like a lot, it translates to a $19 million increase in economic output, according to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.  

Thirteen other laws will take effect on New Year's Day 2015, too. Here are three you should especially know about:

New protections for wage theft

In the past, the Colorado Department of Labor was limited in its options to pursue employers accused of wage theft, said state Rep. Jonathan Singer, a co-sponsor of the Wage Protection Act.

Read the full text of the act here.

"Now [the department will] be able to mediate situations that are just misunderstandings, investigate when there's actual wrongdoing, and bring justice," Singer said.

The new law will require employers to keep records of their employee payrolls for three years. If a business fails to keep those records, it could be subject to a $250 fine per employee, up to a maximum of $7,500.

Employees who believe they have experienced wage theft after Jan. 1 should call the Colorado Dept. of Labor at (303) 318-8441 or go to www.coloradolaborlaw.gov.

'Single-point of contact' on foreclosures

This law requires that that one person be assigned to inform a homeowner about loss mitigation options, the status of the borrower's loan, circumstances that may result in foreclosure, and other information related to foreclosure.

Read the full text of the act here.

Homeowner advocates have argued for a "single point of contact" for years. The Huffington Post writes:

Dozens of homeowners have told HuffPost over the past two years that every time they call their bank about their modification, they reach a different employee who has a different set of facts about the case. And the facts are critical facts: One employee will say a modification has been approved, while another will say the home is going into foreclosure.

In-home support

Legislators have argued that people who are eligible to receive care in their homes should be able to decide more elements of their own care. To do that, a new law will expand "eligible care providers" to include family members. Eligible care providers are allowed to be reimbursed for their services.

The act also finds that more effective in-home support is a "cost savings to the state." In Eagle County, home visits by paramedics in the past year saved $1,300 per patient visit by avoiding unneeded emergency room visits and hospital stays, the Denver Post reported.

Currently, paramedics don't get reimbursed if they do not transport a patient the article noted.

CPR's Meg Arellano contributed to this story.