The bill creates the financial empowerment office (office) and the director of the office (director) in the department of law to grow the financial resilience and well-being of Coloradans through specified community-derived goals and strategies. The director is appointed by the Colorado attorney general and may hire staff as necessary to perform the duties and functions of the office. The office also consists of a manager who is appointed by the director.
The office is authorized to partner with governmental bodies, community organizations, financial institutions, local service providers, and philanthropic organizations to achieve the purposes of the office. The office is also authorized to develop:
- Methods to increase access to safe and affordable financial products;
- Tools and resources that advance, increase, and improve Colorado residents' financial management; and
- Community-informed policies and systems that dismantle systemic barriers to building ownership and wealth for all, especially low-income communities and communities of color.
The financial empowerment office is required to:
- Support the organization of community coalitions to define and lead financial resilience strategies;
- Align, support, and build ties to build financial education and well-being in communities across the state;
- Establish a statewide coalition to assist the director in increasing access to safe and affordable banking products that help improve the financial stability of Colorado residents;
- Work with stakeholders to increase access to low-cost, credit-building loans and financial products;
- Work with state authorities and other stakeholders to expand access to safe and affordable banking products with low fees and easy account access;
- Develop technical assistance to launch or expand local financial coaching and counseling efforts;
- Raise money to support coaching, safe and affordable banking, and potential loan funds;
- Collaborate with the office of the state treasurer on the creation and management of a loan fund to support small credit-building loans; and
- Track community feedback on consumer financial abuses and coordinate with the enforcement teams at various state agencies, connect consumers with existing resources, and educate the public on their related consumer rights.
The office is also required to submit an annual report to the general assembly regarding the activities of the office and the state of affordable banking access in Colorado.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)