Prepared for the CBA by Larry Hudson of Hudson Government Affairs, LLC
The Colorado General Assembly adjourned on Friday, May 3rd, as the end of one of the most politically charged sessions in recent history. With a “this was intentional” message from the Democratically controlled House of Representatives and Senate, the Democrat majority spared no time in pursuing their 2018 campaign-promised agenda. With over 650 bills introduced, the session delivered significant changes to Colorado’s environmental, public health, political, business and criminal justice policy arenas. Specifically, those bills included:
- Establishing more local control over oil and gas permitting and drilling locations as well as repurposing Colorado’s Oil and Gas Commission to focus more on public health, safety and the environment rather than “fostering” the industry.
- Passing a Colorado climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050.
- Passing a “red flag” bill allowing a court to order guns to be seized from someone deemed to be a threat from themselves or others.
- Creating new employment laws around a revamped state Equal Pay Act, which authorizes employees to sue over pay discrimination based on sex and prohibits an employer from seeking the wage history of a prospective employee to determine a pay rate. Additionally, a paid family leave (FAMLI) was watered down to a study to determine the feasibility and viability of a mandatory 12-week paid leave program for an illness to take care of a family member, for all public and private employees.
- Funding full-day kindergarten, with bi-partisan support, for Colorado’s kindergarteners, which was a campaign pledge for Gov. Polis.
Not to be outdone in legislative policy proposals, the Republicans relied on the process to slow down the Democrat agenda, from having 2,000 page bills read at length (resulting in a lawsuit to prevent an autoreader from doing so) to extensive questioning of witnesses during committee hearings to excessive debate and amendments during floor work on otherwise non-controversial legislation. On some major pieces of legislation, the strategy worked and led to compromise by legislative leaders. Many other times it created a backlog of bills being heard in committee and the floor, resulting in many long nights for yours truly.
Some specific accomplishments for the CBA this session include:
- Passage of HB-1110 concerning media literacy in primary and secondary education and ensuring a CBA representative on the advisory committee for recommendations to the CO Dept. of Ed.
- Passage of HB-1119 requiring the disclosure of internal investigation records of peace officers.
- Prevention of any bills denying access to juvenile autopsy records.
- Passage of HB-1324 allowing for a legal procedure for preventing SLAPP lawsuits.
- Creating greater awareness around the problems with law enforcement encrypted radio transmissions, despite the defeat of HB-1235, and the advocacy with local governments to obtain unencrypted radios in the future.