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 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, philanthropic organizations, and other organizations as necessary to achieve the purposes of the office. The office is also authorized to develop or promote new or existing:
- Methods to increase access to safe and affordable financial products;
- Tools and resources that advance, increase, and improve Colorado residents' financial management;
- Community-informed strategies that dismantle systemic barriers to building ownership and wealth for all, especially low-income communities and communities of color; and
- Tools that promote financial stability such as those that assist with service navigation, eviction avoidance, or connections to income supports.
The financial empowerment office is required to:
- Support the organization of community efforts 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 council to assist the director in increasing access to ownership, financial well-being, and safe and affordable banking and financial services that help improve the financial stability of Colorado residents and in identifying products and practices that may undermine financial stability;
- Work with stakeholders to increase access to safe and affordable 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, as well as safe and affordable credit-building loans offered by financial service providers licensed in Colorado at costs that do not exceed the finance charges permitted by Colorado law;
- Work with stakeholders to identify products and practices that may undermine financial stability;
- 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; and
- Track community feedback on consumer financial abuses and coordinate with 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, the state of affordable banking access in Colorado, and other specified information.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)