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Serving as the vice chair on the business, labor, economic and workforce development legislative committee, Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp’s focus this session is promoting business and economics in her district, which encompasses parts of Arvada and Westminster, and in the state.
One of the bills she’s working on is House Bill 14-1015, which would extend the transitional jobs program through Dec. 30, 2017. The program, currently set to expire at the end of the year, combines wage-paid work, job skills training and supportive services to help individuals facing barriers to employment succeed in the workforce.
Kraft-Tharp said this program focuses on people who have the most trouble in finding a job, including military veterans, people over the age of 50, and those living in poverty.
“We’ve had a lot of success with this program in the past, so I believe it’s important to extend it a few more years,” she said. “People really need help and with the job coaching and 30 weeks of subsidized work at $8 an hour, the program can really help people find permanent work.”
Another bill Kraft-Tharp’s been focused on this session, doesn’t have to do with the economy, but more to do with her background. Before her time in the capitol, Kraft-Tharp spent 25 years in mental health and health care fields. Suicide prevention has always been a special interest of Kraft-Tharp’s so that is why she is sponsoring Senate Bill 14-008.
The bill would create a suicide prevention commission that would provide public and private leadership and recommendations regarding suicide prevention in Colorado. Commission members would either have experience in suicide prevention or have been affected by suicide.
Kraft-Tharp said through this bill, the state would be investing in programming that would make the biggest difference in suicide prevention.
“Before we start really implementing new programming, it’s important to look at what are the best practices and the most proven practices,” she said. “Suicide is a serious problem in Colorado, so we need to determine the best way to handle the issue, which is what this commission would do.”
Although Kraft-Tharp spends a lot of time at the capitol, she also makes plenty of time to meet with her constituents. She hosts monthly town hall meetings 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. the third Saturday of every month at Standley Lake Library in Arvada and also hosts community coffees 7-8 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of every month at La Dolce Vita in Olde Town Arvada as well as en evening session 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Panera in the Walnut Creek Shopping Center in Westminster.
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