*Update* Today (May 6th) the Senate Ag Committee unanimously killed HB1407. Colorado Farm Bureau was the only group to testify in opposition to the measure in the Ag Committee. CFB along with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association were the only two groups to oppose the measure.
Proposed Creation of a Range Worker Advisory Council
Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills) has brought forward HB 1407 to create a Range Worker advisory council, termed the Sheep Herder Task Force. This council will be charged to study and discuss issues concerning range workers in Colorado who are working under the federal H-2A visa program.
The bill requires the advisory council to report recommendations, including any legislation deemed necessary, to committees of reference of the Colorado General Assembly. The council is set to dissolve after a report is issued. They will be required to meet at least twice, but not more than four times, and one of the said meetings must be held on the Western Slope. The bill also creates a cash fund for gifts, grants, and donations to cover the costs associated with the advisory council, which is believed to come from the Catholic Conference of Colorado.
The Council consists of 11 members: Commissioner of Ag, Exec. Director of Dept. of Labor and Employment, Chairs of the House and Senate Business Affairs and Labor Committees, Chairs of the House and Senate Ag Committee, Four appointees of the Governor: a person who is experienced in immigration services, a person of faith, two representatives of the Ag Industry who employs or has employed a range worker in Colorado who works or worked under the federal H-2A visa program, and a representative of a migrant worker advocacy group.
Colorado Farm Bureau is opposed to the creation of this council believing it to be not needed and unnecessary to create in statute. The Ag groups, including The Colorado Wool Growers Association, have already come to the table and have agreed to have further conversations around the issue with or without this legislation.
The bill is currently on the House Floor. It will move quickly to the Senate. We encourage everyone to contact their legislators and ask them for a NO vote on HB 1407.