Colorado lawmakers passed 502 bills during this year’s legislative session. Here are 65 you need to know about.

Colorado lawmakers passed 502 bills during this year’s legislative session. Here are 65 you need to know about.

The measures include six gun control bills, new cannabis regulations and a policy inspired by Elijah McClain’s death.

By Thy Vo and Jesse Paul (June 14th, 2021)

Colorado lawmakers introduced 623 bills during the 2021 legislative session that ended last week, passing 502 of them and spiking the rest. 

Democrats were able to advance a number of big policy priorities in their third year in the statehouse majority, including a bill to lower health insurance premiums and a measure to enact new fees to raise money for transportation projects. There was also legislation sent to Gov. Jared Polis continuing to-go alcohol sales by restaurants and resurrecting Colorado’s retro license plates. 

Here are 65 bills passed during the 2021 lawmaking term that you need to know about:


Health care

House Bill 1232: It started as a measure to create a public health insurance plan and reduce costs by 20%. The final version of the legislation, however, will instead force health insurance companies to offer a state-regulated insurance plan and seeks to reduce costs by 15%. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 175To address the soaring cost of certain prescription drugs, this legislation would create a state board to determine whether drugs are affordable. If a medication is deemed unaffordable, the Prescription Drug Affordability Board would have the power to set maximum prices that can be charged in Colorado. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 142:Medicaid patients seeking an abortion will be able to access the procedure at more facilities under this measure. The bill removes restrictions that forced some low-income patients to travel long distances to get an abortion. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 193: Pregnant people in Colorado’s prisons will be granted certain health care rights under this measure. It requires that mothers are not left alone in a cell during childbirth and that they be given access to educational information, breast pumps, and a doctor who specializes in pregnancy and delivery. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 9: Under this billlow-income people who otherwise qualify for certain government health care programs but aren’t eligible because they are living in the U.S. illegally would get access to free reproductive care, including birth control and abortions, paid for by the state.

Senate Bill 194: In an effort to improve maternal health and reduce mortality rates, this bill requires health insurers to cover certain labor and delivery costs. It also expands state health coverage of pregnancy and post-partum services and requires that the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee improve data reporting on race, ethnicity and other factors. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 137: Mental health and substance abuse treatment programs will get a $114 million boost from this measure, with nearly $100 million coming from the pool of federal stimulus dollars. The legislation includes nearly $20 million for youth crisis beds and other youth-intervention programs. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1258: Every Coloradan 18 and younger would have free access to a mental health screening and up to three subsequent visits with a mental health professional under this measure aimed at helping kids cope with the long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. >> READ MORE

Criminal justice

House Bill 1251: Sparked by the death of Elijah McClain, this measure limits when the powerful sedative ketamine can be administered outside of a hospital in situations involving law enforcement. EMS providers aren’t allowed to administer ketamine when a person is suspected of a crime unless there’s a genuine medical emergency. 

House Bill 1280: Courts would be required to hold a bond hearing within 48 hours of a person’s arrest under this bill, an effort to keep people out of lock-up longer than necessary. The bill establishes the position of a statewide judge who can hold bond hearings remotely and on weekends to help rural districts with limited staff meet the legislation’s requirements. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1211: Large local jails in Colorado would be subject to new restrictions on when an inmate can be housed in solitary confinement under this measure. The legislation includes requirements that people held in isolation be checked on periodically, have access to appropriate medical care and be given time outside their cells. It also prohibits youth and people with certain medical or mental health conditions from being housed in isolation. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 271: This sweeping piece of legislation would rewrite Colorado’s misdemeanor laws by changing the maximum sentence for a Class 1 misdemeanor to 364 days in jail and a fine of $1,000, down from 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. For Class 2 misdemeanors, the penalty would be 12 days in jail and a fine up to $750, down from 364 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. Class 3 misdemeanors are eliminated. A number of crimes would also be reclassified under the measure. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 124: People convicted of felony murder in Colorado would no longer be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Instead, they’d face 16 to 48 years in prison, a sentence similar to a second-degree murder conviction. 

House Bill 1314: The state would no longer be able to revoke driver’s licenses or ID cards based on unpaid court costs and municipal violations. People also would not lose their driver’s licenses based on fraudulent use of license plates or a car title, failure to pay fare on public transportation, underage consumption of alcohol or marijuana, and other offenses. 

House Bill 1315: Juvenile offenders and their families would no longer be required to pay certain court fees or fines, including cost-of-care fees, prosecution costs and a variety of other surcharges.  

Senate Bill 280: Colorado’s laws around bias-motivated crimes — also known as hate crimes — would be expanded under this bill, which says that bias only needs to be part of a defendant’s motivation for the offense to be considered a hate crime. The bill would also make the crime of harassment, when motivated by bias, a Victim Rights Act crime, which provides a victim certain rights.

Housing

House Bill 1117: Colorado cities and towns will soon be able to require developers to include below-market rate units in new rental developments, so long as developers are given alternatives and municipalities have tried other measures to increase density. The measure reverses a 20-year-old court ruling. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 173: Colorado tenants would have expanded protections under this measure, which limits when late fees can be charged and restricts evictions based on failure to pay late fees. The bill also imposes fines on landlords for violations of its provisions. 

Senate Bill 242: The state’s Housing Development Grant Fund would be allowed to give grants or spend money for projects related to converting motels, hotels and other “underutilized” properties into shelters or affordable housing under his bill. That fund would also get a $15 million infusion from the state.

Guns

Senate Bill 256: This measure would allow local governments, public higher education institutions and special districts to enact gun policies that are stronger than what’s written in state law. The bill was part of a slate of legislation introduced after the Boulder King Soopers shooting. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1298:This legislation would close the so-called Charleston loophole by requiring gun dealers to complete a background check on a gun buyer before transferring a weapon. It would also prohibit people from purchasing a gun if they have been convicted of certain misdemeanors within the past five years. The bill was part of a slate of legislation introduced after the Boulder King Soopers shooting. 

House Bill 1299: The Office of Gun Violence and Prevention would be created within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment under this bill. 

House Bill 1106: Starting on July 1, 2021, Coloradans who own guns will be required to store their weapons in a gun safe or with a trigger or cable lock when the owner knows or should reasonably know that a “juvenile or a resident who is ineligible to possess a firearm can gain access to the firearm.”

Senate Bill 78: Colorado gun owners must report a lost or stolen firearm to law enforcement within five days of realizing the weapon is missing. Failing to report a lost or stolen firearm is a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine. A second or subsequent infraction is an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $500. 

House Bill 1255: The measure would require people who are subject to a restraining order because of domestic abuse to submit to a judge, within seven business days, an affidavit including a list of the type and number of firearms they own, as well as the location of those weapons. The legislation is aimed at ensuring those charged or convicted of domestic abuse relinquish their firearms. >> READ MORE

Transportation 

Senate Bill 260: This is state lawmakers’ plan to raise revenue to fund the state’s growing infrastructure needs. It includes a series of new fees on gasoline and diesel fuel, deliveries and rideshare trips. In total, this measure seeks to raise and spend more than $5 billion over the next 11 years. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 238: Transportation advocates have longed for a passenger rail system to transport people up and down the Front Range and cut down on car reliance. This measure would create a new special Front Range passenger rail district overseen by a 14-member board that would have the power to ask voters to raise sales taxes to pay for the train. >> READ MORE

Environment

House Bill 1266: Colorado has a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions, but House Bill 1266 would turn most of those goals into mandates for oil and gas, electricity-generation and manufacturing sections, with a timetable for achieving the cuts. The measure also creates environmental justice provisions.  >> READ MORE

House Bill 1162: Plastic bags would be banned in Colorado starting in 2024, with exceptions for restaurants and small businesses, under this measure. Starting in 2023, plastic bags and paper bags would be subject to a 10-cent fee. The bill would also ban polystyrene containers — aka styrofoam — across the state starting on Jan. 1, 2024.  >> READ MORE

House Bill 1189: Industrial plants, including Suncor’s Commerce City refinery and Goodrich Carbon’s airplane brakes plant in Pueblo, would be required to monitor air quality on-site and publicly report the results under this legislation. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1290: The measure would set aside $15 million to the Office of Just Transition and Coal Transition Worker Assistance Programs to fund the agency’s work in communities where there are planned closures of coal mines and powerplants. 

Senate Bill 272: The Public Utilities Commission will get money to spend on outside experts when considering rate cases and other matters under this measure. Among other “modernization” steps, the bill also requires commissioners to adopt new rules saying that in any case before them, they must consider how to “improve equity and prioritize disproportionately impacted communities.” 

House Bill 1260: The bill would set aside $20 million to implement the State Water Plan. 

Wildfire

Senate Bill 12: The Wildland Fire Management Section in the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control cannot disqualify an applicant for employment solely due to the applicant’s conviction of a felony, this measure says. The bill also requires the division to develop materials to ensure inmate firefighters know about job opportunities at the agency.  >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 113: This measure allocated about $31 million so that Colorado can purchase a Firehawk wildfire fighting helicopter. The helicopter is an adapted Black Hawk helicopter that can fly at high speeds and quickly react to fires across the state. 

House Bill 1208Coloradans who own property with a natural disaster premium would have to pay an extra fee for disaster mitigation under this measure. Money raised by the legislation would be allocated in the form of grants to groups aiming to prevent wildfires and floods.  >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 88For survivors of child sexual assault for whom the civil statute of limitations has run out, this measure would give those individuals a three-year opportunity to sue their abusers and the institutions or organizations that failed to stop the abuse. 

Senate Bill 73This measure eliminates the civil statute of limiations for all future sexual assault victims, giving them unlimited time to sue their abusers. 

Education 

Senate Bill 172: This measure creates a state account dedicated to increasing the pay of teachers and other school personnel. It only goes into effect, however, if a ballot measure to increase taxes to raise money for the fund is passed no later than November 2027.

House Bill 1103: This measure requires that the State Board of Education revise its academic content standards for reading, writing and civics to include media literacy. The Colorado Department of Education would also be required to create an online resource bank on media literacy issues. 

House Bill 1164:School districts would be allowed to slowly raise their mill-levy rates to levels previously approved by voters up to 27 mills under this measure. The bill is expected to increase property tax revenues for school districts by $91.7 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year. That number jumps to $145.5 million in the 2022-23 fiscal year.  >> READ MORE

House Bill 1304: Colorado would have a Department of Early Childhood under this measure. The department would be tasked with rolling out the state’s universal preschool system become the regulatory agency for programs that are now spread across various agencies. >> READ MORE

Marijuana 

House Bill 1317: This measure would place new restrictions on how much marijuana concentrate medical cannabis patients can purchase. It also would prompt research on the effects of high-potency marijuana on adolescents, and track cannabis use among young people who die of non-natural causes. 

House Bill 1090: The adult possession limit for recreational cannabis is now 2 ounces under this measure, which also makes it easier for people with past convictions for possessing up to 2 ounces to get those convictions sealed or pardoned by the governor. >> READ MORE

Immigration

Senate Bill 199Senate Bill 77, and House Bill 1054: These measures remove various requirements that Coloradans prove legal immigration status to access state or local public benefits, such as medical or housing assistance, or to qualify for professional and business licenses. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1057: The measure prohibits a person from threatening to report an immigrant’s citizenship status to authorities for extortion.  

Government 

Senate Bill 64: Harassing or making a credible threat against an elected official would become a specific crime in Colorado under this measure. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 69: This bill would allow Colorado’s Division of Motor Vehicles to begin selling the state’s retro license plates — the ones with green mountains — again with an extra charge. The measure also seeks to clamp down on people skirting new-vehicle registration fees. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1107 and House Bill 1015:These measures make it illegal to “dox” — share a person’s private information online in a way that poses a “serious and imminent” threat — a public health worker, employees at state prisons and public defenders. 

House Bill 1071: The Colorado Secretary of State would be required to establish statewide standards and pay for software upgrades to make it easier for Colorado cities and towns to adopt ranked-choice voting. A handful of Colorado municipalities already use the alternative voting method, but it’s expensive to do because state voting machines and software aren’t adapted for it. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1047: Colorado counties with five-member commissions in which members are elected based on where they live would be required to follow new transparency rules and guidelines when redrawing their commission’s district boundaries. The bill is an effort to apply the redistricting guidelines in Amendments Y and Z, passed by voters in 2018, to counties that are growing in population and may consider expanding their commissions. >> READ MORE

Taxes

House Bill 1311: This measure would roll back tax breaks for Colorado’s wealthiest residents, including by capping itemized deductions and limiting deductions for contributions to 529 College Savings Accounts. It also eliminates almost all capital gains for wealthy Coloradans. In turn, the bill would expand the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, and create a temporary tax credit for companies that convert to worker-owned models. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1312: This tax legislation eliminates tax breaks for the insurance, oil and gas and coal industries. In turn, it expands the business personal property tax exemption. The state would be required to reimburse local governments for lost revenue related to expanding the exemption. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1321: This measure would change what language must accompany tax measures on the ballot. For measures increasing tax revenue, for instance, the bill would require language about the level of public services funded by the measure and what those public services would be. The legislation is a progressive response to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 205: Colorado’s fiscal year 2021-22 budget spends $34.1 billion, restoring cuts made as the coronavirus crisis descended upon the state while also saving a historic amount for future budget years. >>READ MORE

Senate Bill 288: This measure begins Colorado’s process of spending $3.8 billion in federal coronavirus stimulus money. About half of the money was allocated during the recent legislative session and the rest will be distributed by state lawmakers next year. The dollars are being spent on everything from transportation projects to efforts to protect domestic abuse victims. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 293: Senate Bill 293 would drive down property assessment rates in the 2022 and 2023 taxation years for certain subcategories of property. Starting in the 2023 tax year and continuing indefinitely, the legislation also would allow homeowners to defer an increase of more than 4% on their property tax bill, up to $10,000, on their primary residence. The balance becomes a lien on the property that’s paid back when it is sold. >> READ MORE

Business and Labor 

Senate Bill 39: A handful of Colorado companies paying workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities less than the minimum wage under an antiquated federal law would have to slowly raise those workers’ pay over the next four years to match minimum wage thresholds under this measure. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 87: Agricultural workers will be able to organize and join unions, strike, and receive state minimum wage and overtime pay under this measure. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 190 This measure would give consumers the right to tell companies to stop tracking their personal data and to delete it. Colorado would be the third state to adopt a comprehensive consumer privacy law, after California and Virginia, if the legislation is signed into law. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1027: Restaurants would have until at least July 1, 2025, to continue takeout alcohol sales under this measure, though they’d be limited to selling to-go booze from 7 a.m. to midnight. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1048: Colorado businesses will be required to accept cash starting later this year under legislation aimed at assisting those who don’t have access to banking services. Noncompliance with the law could result in fines.  >> READ MORE

House Bill 1289: The measure would set aside $75 million in federal stimulus dollars to support broadband internet infrastructure development.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 11:23 a.m. on June 15, 2021 to correct the amount of federal stimulus funding allocated under House Bill 1289.

Read more at ColoradoSun.com.

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