Below are bills I sponsored in the 2018 legislation session. To see details on any of these, you can visit the Colorado General Assembly web site at http://leg.colorado.gov/bills
GOOD GOVERNMENT & CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
House Bill 1033 – updating time off to vote – Under existing law, voters can take 2 hours off to vote, but only on Election Day. This bill would have updated the law to match the reality of how we vote in Colorado by allowing 2 hours off within the days leading up to Election Day as well, to drop off a ballot, obtain a ballot or replacement ballot, or obtain ID or other necessary documents as well as to vote. Voting is a fundamental right and it’s how we choose our leaders and decide big questions as a society. We should make voting as easy as possible. STATUS: killed on a party-line vote in GOP state senate.
House Bill 1403 – Stand By Your Ad Act – This bill would have expanded the types of political advertising required to contain a “disclaimer” indicating who paid for the ad. More money is spent on campaigns with every passing year, and usually the less apparent it is who’s spending the money, the more negative the advertising is. This is no good for our democracy. Transparency in campaign ads lets voters make informed choices. STATUS: killed on a party-line vote in GOP state senate.
House Bill 1380 – expanding the Property Tax, Heat and Rent Credit – Low income seniors and people with disabilities are able to claim a credit against state income taxes to offset the cost of property taxes or rent. The credit amount is very modest and has not been updated in several years, despite the rapidly increasing cost of housing. This bill would have adjusted the amounts available to eligible seniors by inflation and allowed the amounts to increase for inflation going forward to help seniors stay in their homes. STATUS: killed on a party-line vote in GOP state senate.
House Bill 1322 (Budget) Amendment – I sponsored an amendment to the budget to increase funding to the Division of Housing by $5 million. The Division of Housing is the primary unit of our state that funds construction and renovation of affordable housing units for both ownership and rental. This amendment did not pass, but a similar amendment to increase funding by $1 million was approved. We need to do more to fund affordable housing, but every bit helps. STATUS: signed into law on April 30.
House Bill 1322 (Budget) Amendment – I co-sponsored another budget amendment to unlock $4.7 million for supportive housing for individuals with behavioral health conditions transitioning out of the criminal justice system. This funding would otherwise have gone unused, but now will help people in need avoid homelessness. STATUS: signed into law on April 30.
ENHANCING CONSUMER PROTECTION
House Bill 1261 – Arbitration Fairness Act – forced arbitration practices in consumer and employment contracts abridge people’s rights. Instead of resolving a debate before a neutral judge, arbitration privatizes the justice system, lacks transparency, and lacks protections against conflicts of interest by arbitrators and companies that force arbitration on consumers. This bill would have required greater disclosures and transparency in arbitration and provided remedies for non-compliance. STATUS: killed on a party-line vote in GOP state senate.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
House Bill 1029 – reforms to parole – for 25 years Colorado has sentenced certain offenders to serve a mandatory 5 years of parole once released from a correctional facility. However there is little evidence that 5 years of parole contributes to public safety or reduces recidivism despite an average cost to taxpayers of over $6,000 per year per person on parole. Therefore the bill makes the maximum term of parole 3 years instead of 5 for most offenders (lower level offenders already serve 3 years parole or less). We have incarcerated too many people, with too much racial disparity, for too long, and it’s time to start changing that. STATUS: signed into law on April 23.
House Bill 1109 – updates to compassionate release parole – Colorado spends an average of $38,000/year to incarcerate someone. For older and sicker inmates, the cost can be two or three times as much. It is not necessary for public safety, a bad use of taxpayer dollars, and morally questionable to incarcerate the most ill and incapacitated inmates. Therefore this bill gives the Department of Corrections more discretion to send older and ill inmates to the state parole board to be considered for compassionate release. STATUS: signed into law on April 23.
House Bill 1287 – continuing the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice – For 10 years the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice or “CCJJ” has studied the effectiveness of Colorado’s criminal laws and has helped bring about major reforms in areas like drug sentencing. This bill continues CCJJ for another five years while adding new representatives including a crime victim, a victim advocate, and a former offender so that CCJJ will benefit from many perspectives. Criminal justice is too important not to be based on research and deliberation. STATUS: pending signature by governor.
House Bill 1344 – collateral sanctions relief – Even after completing a sentence, there are hundreds of “collateral consequences” of a criminal conviction that prevent people from getting back to work and earning a living. This bill expands the ability of adult offenders to seek an order of collateral relief ¾ an individualized determination by a judge that the person has been rehabilitated and should be allowed to seek a professional license to work. The bill also allows orders of collateral relief for juvenile offenders. STATUS: pending signature by governor.
House Bill 1418 – collateral consequences reduction in licensing and employment – Like House Bill 1344, this bill also seeks to reduce the collateral consequences of prior justice system involvement and help people get back to work and re-integrate into society. The bill provides that individuals who have been charged but not convicted, or have been pardoned, or have had records sealed or expunged may not be barred from a state or local government agency license or certification or job opening. The bill also increases data collection so we can better understand the scope of collateral consequences in the future. STATUS: pending signature by governor.
House Bill 1107 – optional electric vehicle charging in new residential construction – this bill simply asked home builders to offer pre-wiring suitable for electric vehicle charging to buyers of new single family dwellings. It costs a few hundred dollars to get the wiring in place at the time of construction, compared to potentially thousands of dollars later. With big changes coming to our vehicle fleet in the next several years, this bill aimed to save homebuyers money. STATUS: killed on a party-line vote in GOP state senate.