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Bills We're Supporting in 2021
Status as of April 5 - Updated Weekly
HB 21-1011 (Rep. Caraveo) - Multilingual Ballot Access for Voters
Status: Passed House 40-23 on March 29, awaiting hearing in Senate State Affairs Committee
This bill will ensure that ballot services in multiple common languages are available for all eligible voters in Colorado during election season. The Secretary of State would be required to provide translation in any language in which the most recent Census was offered, and county clerks would be required to create minority language sample ballots & provide such ballots in person upon request if at least 2,000 people over age 18 (or 2.5% of people, whichever is lower) in the county speak that language.
The Fiscal Note for this bill is $82,800 and it would apply beginning with the 2022 general election.
HB 21-1117 (Reps. Lontine & Gonzales-Gutierrez) - Local Government Authority to Promote Affordable Housing Units
Status: Passed the House 41-23 on March 22, awaiting hearing in Senate State Affairs Committee
This bill would allow municipalities to regulate development in order to promote the construction of affordable housing units. It gives developers options for building new units, providing cash in lieu, or even donating land. This bill is a response to the 2000 Colorado Supreme Court decision, Telluride v. Lot Thirty-Four Venture LLC.
The bill does not require new spending and would go into effect 90 days after adjournment of the 2021 session.
HB 21-1121 (Reps. Jackson & Jodeh) - Residential Tenancy Procedures
Status: Passed House 40-23 on April 1, awaiting committee scheduling in Senate
This bill is intended to address inequities in eviction and tenancy procedures that disproportionately impact renters negatively. It mandates that landlords cannot raise rent more than once in a 12-month period of continuous occupancy by a renter, establishes 60 days’ notice before a rent increase for unwritten tenancies, and gives tenants a minimum of 8 days between the issuance and the execution of a writ of restitution before a sheriff can enforce the eviction.
The bill was amended significantly from its original form by the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee - note that the summary on the Legislature's website only applies to the original bill, not the amended version.
The Fiscal Note for this bill is $28,148 and it would go into effect immediately upon being signed by the Governor.
HB 21-1194 (Reps. Tipper & Ricks) - Immigration Legal Defense Fund
Status: Passed House Judiciary Committee, awaiting hearing in House Appropriations Committee
The bill creates the immigration legal defense fund, administered by the Department of Human Services, to award grants to qualifying nonprofit organizations that provide legal advice, counseling, and representation for, and on behalf of, indigent clients who are subject to an immigration proceeding.
The Fiscal Note for this bill is $98,303 and would take effect 90 days after adjournment.
HB 21-1214 (Rep. Weissman) - Record Sealing Collateral Consequences Reduction
Status: Awaiting first hearing in House Judiciary Committee
The bill creates an automatic record sealing process for arrest records in cases where no charges are filed, beginning January 1, 2022, after a period of one year. It adds certain low-level drug possession offenses to be eligible for sealing as well and creates a process to automatically seal certain drug convictions after 7 or 10 years, depending on the offense.
The bill does not carry a fiscal note and would take effect 90 days after adjournment.
SB 21-062 (Sen. Lee) - Jail Population Management Tools
Status: Passed Senate Judiciary Committee, awaiting hearing in Senate Appropriations Committee
Before COVID, over 12,000 people slept in Colorado jails every night, an 800% increase since the 1970s. The pretrial population drove the increase – 60% of people in jail are unconvicted and are only jailed because they cannot afford to pay money bond. Jails have become our first response to homelessness, substance abuse & mental illness, even though jail staff lack the expertise or resources to address these societal problems. Our jails have been filled with people accused of low-level crimes who pose no public safety risk. This has had a particular impact on Black, Indigenous and Latino people, who are disproportionately policed and arrested compared to White people, and are more likely to have money bond set at higher amounts while detained pretrial. People in jail are 4 times more likely to have disabilities, and more than half of people in jail have psychiatric disabilities.
The bill will help use the lessons of the pandemic to reduce the jail population by reserving beds for people who pose an actual safety risk to others. It aims to keep those accused of low-level crimes out of jail by increasing the use of summons in lieu of arrest, decreasing use of cash bonds, and empowering sheriffs to manage county jail populations. Ultimately, the bill will save taxpayers significant amounts of money, particularly at the local level.
The bill carries a Fiscal Note of $65,158 for the next budget year and would take effect on January 1, 2022.
SB 21-087 (Sen. Danielson) - Agricultural Workers' Rights
Status: Passed Senate Business Committee, awaiting hearing in Senate Appropriations Committee
The Colorado Labor Peace Act, first adopted in 1943, exempts agricultural workers and their employers from certain rights and obligations. This bill removes the exemptions, granting such workers the right to organize, engage in collective bargaining, and go on strike. Workers would be entitled to meal breaks and rest periods, rather than relying solely on the benevolent discretion of their employers. The bill would also remove the exemption of agricultural workers from overtime and minimum wage laws, requiring annual wage adjustments for inflation and overtime pay. Colorado currently has nearly 40,000 agricultural workers, and 23% of farms (about 9,000) hire labor, according to the USDA.
The Fiscal Note for this bill is $482,191 and would take effect immediately upon being signed by the Governor.
SB 21-148 (Sen. Gonzales) - Create Office of Financial Empowerment
Status: Passed Senate Finance Committee, awaiting hearing in Senate Appropriations Committee
Inadequate access to capital, bank accounts, non-predatory credit, and financial counseling — especially for Coloradans of color — contribute to financial precarity throughout our state.
Nearly 22 percent of Coloradans — and 49 percent of households of color — are either unbanked or underbanked. This can result in a reliance on high-cost, predatory financial services as mainstream banking fails to meet their basic financial needs.
While our state’s made progress in regulating existing predatory products like payday loans, we still lack the proactive infrastructure needed to prevent other equally or more harmful financial practices from expanding in Colorado.
A statewide Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), modeled on the existing one in Denver, will elevate and expand the financial empowerment work happening in local communities across our state. These can include one-on-one financial coaching that centers the client's goals and skill building, expansion of safe and affordable banking and lending products, and streamlined and enhanced consumer protections. Housed within the attorney general’s office, it will use the power of the state government to lift best financial empowerment practices, identify statewide trends and concerns, attract and secure additional resources, and ensure coordination between communities and state agencies.
SB 21-169 (Sen. Buckner) - Restrict Insurer's Use of External Consumer Data
Status: Awaiting first hearing in Senate Business & Labor Committee
This bill addresses current insurance practices that directly or indirectly perpetuate systemic racism and other structural inequities. Insurance companies are increasingly collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data and using algorithms or predictive models in various practices, including whether to offer someone insurance, how much to charge them for their coverage, and how claims are handled. The purpose of the bill is to give the Division of Insurance, within the Department of Regulatory Agencies, the ability to evaluate whether the tools used by insurance companies are unfairly discriminatory to protected groups.
The bill does not carry a fiscal note and would take effect 90 days after adjournment.
SB 21-173 (Sens. Gonzales & Moreno) - Rights in Residential Lease Agreements
Status: Passed Senate Appropriations Committee, scheduled for hearing on Senate floor on April 6
The bill aims to increase fairness in the eviction court process and reasonably limit late fees in order to prevent housing instability, eviction and homelessness. It prevents evictions that are based solely on owing late fees, eliminates certain bond requirements that price many renters out of defending themselves in court, and creates penalties for landlords who illegally lock out tenants, among other provisions.
The Fiscal Note for this bill is $198,690 and would take effect 90 days after adjournment.