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100 bills debated at the Colorado legislature this year that you should know about

The Colorado Sun combed through the roughly 650 pieces of legislation introduced at the Capitol this year to find the ones that will affect — or would have affected — your life.

Senators cast votes in the final hours of the 2022 legislative session. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
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The Colorado legislature’s 120-day lawmaking term ended Wednesday, during which hundreds of bills were sent to Gov. Jared Polis to be signed into law. 

A few hundred measures were voted down, too. 

The Colorado Sun combed through the roughly 650 pieces of legislation introduced at the Capitol this year to pick out 100 bills that passed — and some that didn’t — that you need to know about. 

Here are the ones that passed:


The 9 biggest bills of the 2022 legislative session

House Bill 1279: Access to abortion and contraception are now enshrined in Colorado law after the legislature passed House Bill 1279. The legislation was brought amid fears that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade in the coming weeks. The end of the 1973 precedent wouldn’t have immediately affected abortion access in Colorado, but abortion rights groups feared it could prompt abortion opponents to try to ban or limit the procedure on the municipal or county level. House Bill 1279, which Polis signed into law, prevents that from happening. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 233: Colorado taxpayers would receive checks of at least $400 if they file individually and of at least $800 if they file a joint return under Senate Bill 233, which Polis is expected to sign. The money, which will arrive in late August or early September, comes from refunds owed under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which caps government growth. The $400 and $800 numbers are baselines that lawmakers expect to rise by as much as $100 thanks to Colorado’s economic good fortune. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 238: Property taxes are set to be reduced by $700 million between 2023 and 2024 under a deal reached by Polis, lawmakers and a business group that’s aimed at helping people contend with the tax burden that has increased because of soaring property values in Colorado. >> READ MORE 

House Bill 1326: Penalties for possessing and dealing fentanyl, a powerful opioid linked to rising drug overdose deaths in Colorado, would be increased under this bill passed on the last day of the legislative session. The bill would also allocate tens of millions of dollars to drug treatment and overdose prevention. >> READ MORE 

House Bill 1351: The start of a new 2-cent-per-gallon gas fee will be postponed until April 2023 from July as part of broader efforts from Polis and Democrats in the legislature to offer fee relief heading into the November election. The legislature is spending about $45 million to backfill the lost revenue. That money will go toward transportation projects. >> READ MORE

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House Bill 1329: Colorado lawmakers passed a $36 billion budget that increased funding for K-12 education and gave state employees a 3% raise. It also expanded efforts to improve public safety and monitor air quality. >> READ MORE 

House Bill 1029: This bill allocates $380 million to the Public Employees’ Retirement Association, including $225 million to cover a payment to PERA that was skipped in 2020 as COVID arrived in Colorado, as well as $155 million to prepay money the legislature owes PERA in future years.

House Bill 1355: This measure would charge manufacturers of packaged goods a fee that would go toward creating a statewide recycling program. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1295: Colorado 3- and 4- year olds will get access to 10 hours per week of free preschool under a program that will be overseen by a newly created Colorado Early Childhood Department. In 2020, Colorado voters approved a ballot measure to help fund the new preschool program with revenue from increased taxes on nicotine products. The department will also be responsible for a host of family and child services, and will license child care centers and work on recruiting and retaining early childhood workers. >> READ MORE

Criminal Justice

Senate Bill 103: People who pleaded guilty to a municipal offense or a Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor can try to challenge the plea if they allege that the case resulted in immigration consequences and that they entered their plea because they weren’t adequately advised of those consequences. A judge must vacate the plea unless prosecutors can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant won’t face immigration consequences or that the plea was properly entered. The bill was signed into law by Polis.

Senate Bill 150: This measure aims to improve Colorado’s ability to locate missing and murdered Indigenous people through the creation of a new office that would have dedicated staffing. As many as 80% of Indigenous people in the U.S. experience violent crime.

Senate Bill 183: This measure would use $35 million in federal COVID aid to fund services for crime victims over the next four years. It also would appropriate $6 million for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Rep. Karen McCormick (left) and members of the House remove their jackets after the floor’s ‘coat rule’ is relaxed on May 11, 2022 at the Colorado Capitol. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)
Colorado’s 2022 legislative session, marked by unprecedented spending fueled by a strong state budget and billions in federal COVID aid, ended at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

House Bill 1032: Colorado residents who are attending college out of state can postpone their juror service by a year, up from six months under this measure signed into law by Polis.

House Bill 1038: Children must be appointed a lawyer in court proceedings around dependency and neglect, as well as in court cases involving adoption, under this measure that was signed into law. Before House Bill 1038, children were appointed a guardian ad litem only in dependency and neglect cases.

House Bill 1067: Municipal courts would be required to hold a bond hearing within 48 hours for a person being jailed only on a municipal hold, regardless of whether the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday.

House Bill 1217: This measure would create a Catalytic Converter Identification and Theft Prevention Grant Program in the Colorado Department of Public Safety, focused on raising awareness of catalytic converter theft and bolstering identification and tracking efforts for stolen catalytic converters.

Business and employment

Senate Bill 230: This measure would let employees in large Colorado counties collectively bargain, though they wouldn’t be allowed to strike. The counties also wouldn’t be subject to binding arbitration. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 234: Colorado is set to spend $600 million to buy down the roughly $1 billion debt it owes the federal government for money it received during the pandemic to replenish the state’s depleted unemployment insurance trust fund. Senate Bill 234 also makes a host of changes to Colorado’s unemployment policies aimed at improving the system for workers. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1001: The legislature set aside $16.71 million so that the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office can reduce business filing fees for annual business registration renewal, new trade name registrations and annual renewal, and updates to business information. The fees will be reduced to $1 from a range of $10 to $50.

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House Bill 1041: Local government code enforcement officers, animal control officers and health care workers can now request that their personal information — including their name and home address — be removed from the internet if they can prove that the information’s dissemination poses an imminent and serious threat.

House Bill 1266: This measure, which was signed into law by the governor, changes the state’s employment philosophy to “specify that it is the policy of the state to provide innovative total compensation that meets or exceeds total compensation provided by public or private sector employers or a combination of both.”

House Bill 1394: Colorado’s Office of Just Transition, which was formed in 2019 to aid workers and communities impacted by the closure of coal-fired power plants and coal mines, would receive about $15 million. El Paso, Gunnison, La Plata, Larimer, Moffat, Montrose, Morgan, Pueblo, Rio Blanco and Routt counties have all been identified as eligible to receive the so-called just-transition funding. 

Wildfire

Senate Bill 206: Lawmakers passed this bill in response to recent natural disasters, including the Marshall fire. It would create a number of home rebuilding programs and an Office of Climate Preparedness that will coordinate disaster recovery efforts. The rebuilding programs would offer loans and grants to help people rebuild after a declared disaster, and to rebuild energy efficient homes and other buildings. The bill also would require a study on the homeowners insurance market and would create a state fire dispatch center to make sure resources are quickly sent out to respond to emerging wildfires. 

House Bill 1011: Lawmakers, through this measure, created a new grant program to encourage local governments to prepare for wildfire. The program would be administered by the Colorado State Forest Service and would either match revenue raised by a local government for wildfire mitigation or help expand existing programs. 

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House Bill 1111: This measure would give people whose homes are destroyed in wildfires more time to file information with their insurance company about the costs to replace their house and its contents. It would also give the state’s insurance commissioner more power to issue regulations around how insurance companies and their clients interact after a wildfire. 

House Bill 1379: This measure would invest $20 million to protect Colorado’s watersheds and reduce the risk of wildfires, including $10 million that would be directed to the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s construction fund for post-fire restoration needs and to prepare watersheds for fire. 

Taxes

Senate Bill 222: This bill refers a measure to the November ballot that, if approved by voters, would require nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff to create a table that shows how much more or less people in eight income categories would pay under an initiative changing the income tax rate. The table would have to appear on any future ballot measure proposing to raise or lower the income tax rate. It also would have to appear on petitions circulated by signature gatherers to get income tax measures on the ballot. >> READ MORE

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House Bill 1006: This measure would change Colorado law to allow property leased or rented by a tenant to operate a child care center to be exempt from property taxes. 

House Bill 1117: Local marketing districts and counties are now allowed, with voter approval, to use lodging tax revenue for housing and child care initiatives for the tourism-related workforce and seasonable workforce. Currently the revenue can only be used to advertise and market local tourism.  >> READ MORE

Housing

Senate Bill 160: This measure would dedicate $35 million to help mobile home park residents, through loans and grants, buy the land under their homes and create resident-owned communities. >> READ MORE 

House  Bill 1082: This measure creates the Fair Housing Unit in the Colorado Department of Law. The unit is tasked with bringing civil and criminal actions.

House Bill 1282: This measure would allocate $40 million in federal COVID aid to encourage and support the construction of “innovative forms” of affordable housing in Colorado, including modular, prefabricated and manufactured homes. The Colorado Office of Economic Development will distribute the money through grants and loans to businesses located in Colorado that create innovative housing. >> READ MORE

House  Bill 1377: The measure would allocate $105 million of federal coronavirus aid to help communities address homelessness including by funding grant programs for local governments,

Behavioral health

Senate Bill 147: This measure would allocate $11.2 million in federal coronavirus aid toward behavioral health programs for children. The money would go toward bolstering health professionals and behavioral health services in schools and help create a pediatric psychiatry consultation program in the University of Colorado, which will provide resources and help primary care doctors treat moderate behavioral health problems. 

Senate Bill 148: This measure would allocate $5 million to make a grant to one or more Native American tribes in Colorado for the development of a behavioral health facility. 

Senate Bill 181: This measure would allocate $72 million to Colorado’s Behavioral Health Administration to be spent on stabilizing the state’s behavioral health care workforce. Twenty million dollars would go toward creating a training curriculum for the Colorado Community College system, while another $20 million would be invested in the existing Colorado Health Services Corps.

House Bill 1278: This measure would create the Behavioral Health Administration in the Department of Human Services. The administration would be charged with “creating a coordinated, cohesive and effective behavioral health system in Colorado.”

House Bill 1281: This bill would create a $90 million grant fund using federal coronavirus aid for local governments and nonprofits to use for community-based behavioral health programs.

House Bill 1283: Intensive residential and outpatient treatment for young people and their families would be expanded with $54 million in federal coronavirus relief funding.

House Bill 1303: This legislation would spend $65 million to expand inpatient and residential treatment options in Colorado, including by supporting the addition of 16 beds at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan and 125 other residential treatment beds across the state.

Health Care

Senate Bill 53: In response to hospital visitor prohibitions adopted during the pandemic, this bill would allow at least one visitor for people hospitalized or living in nursing homes even when visitors are otherwise restricted. Hospitals, however, can set requirements for how the visits can happen. 

Members of the House watch the chamber’s display board for vote tallies on May 11, 2022 at the Colorado Capitol. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)
Members of the House watch the chamber’s display board for vote tallies on May 11, 2022 at the Colorado Capitol. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

Senate Bill 81: The bill would require that the board of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange create and implement a public awareness and education campaign to inform consumers about health care coverage options by July 1, 2023. It would cost $5 million a year and last five years.

House Bill 1031: Users of powered wheelchairs could make their own repairs with manufacturers required to make parts and repair information available under this first-in-the-nation measure. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1285: Hospitals would be barred from taking debt collection actions against patients if the hospital isn’t complying with federal price transparency rules, under this bill. Hospitals were required to post standard charges online starting in 2021 under a new federal law. 

House Bill 1333: Nursing home workers would be paid a minimum wage of $15 per hour statewide under this bill that also includes financial assistance from the state to facilitate the wage increase. 

House Bill 1358: Schools and child care centers would be required to ensure that drinking water sources don’t have excessive levels of lead under this bill, which includes some state funding for testing and making infrastructure improvements where needed.

Sexual and reproductive health

Senate Bill 224: Coloradans conceived by donated sperm or eggs would be able to learn the identity of the donors when they turn 18.  >> READ MORE

House Bill 1008: This bill will nominally expand insurance coverage for fertility services. Specifically, large employer plans regulated by the state’s Division of Insurance will need to start covering the services in 2023. 

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House Bill 1055: Hygiene products for menstruation and incontinence, including diapers, will be exempt from state sales taxes beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

House Bill 1169: This measure changes the definition of sexual assault in Colorado to make it a crime to have sex with someone without their consent. Currently, sexual assault is defined as acting against a victim’s will. 

House Bill 1288: Sex workers who experience violence, stalking and other criminal behavior will be granted immunity from prostituion charges if they report those crimes to police. 

Education and child care

Senate Bill 3: Community colleges will be able to offer a bachelor of science degree in nursing to students who have or are pursuing a practical nursing certificate. Community colleges can already offer a bachelor of science degree in nursing to students pursuing an associate degree in nursing.  

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Senate Bill 213: Nearly $100 million in federal coronavirus aid would help improve child care access, with half the money going toward expanding child care facilities and training more workers. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1049: Colorado higher education institutions would have to provide a transcript or diploma for a current or former student who owes the institution debt if the student can prove that they need the documents for a job application, financial aid or “other postsecondary opportunities.” The legislation would apply to all public and private institutions of higher education in Colorado. 

House Bill 1057: Retired teachers can work as substitute teachers for an unlimited number of days without their Public Employees’ Retirement Association benefits being affected until at least July 2025 under this measure. Currently, retired teachers can work only a limited number of days as substitute teachers if they don’t want to have their retirement benefits reduced.

House Bill 1110: School boards would be able to meet in secret, executive session to interview school superintendent candidates, as well as rank them and instruct staff to negotiate with a candidate, further weakening the state’s open meetings law. 

House Bill 1155:  A student who graduates from a high school or completes a high school equivalency exam in Colorado and has resided in the state for at least one year would be eligible for in-state tuition at a public Colorado college or university. Currently, students must attend high school in Colorado for at least three years to be classified as an in-state student for tuition purposes. 

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House Bill 1220: This bill would try to ensure student teachers are better paid in an effort to recruit more low-income students and students of color into the teaching field. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1414: Voters will be asked in November to increase taxes on wealthy Coloradans to extend free school meals paid for during the pandemic by the federal government. The $100 million annual tax increase would be paid for by lowering the threshold to cap certain income tax deductions to $300,000 in annual income from $400,000. >> READ MORE

Elections and government

Senate Bill 153: This measure aims to protect Colorado’s election systems from insider threats by prohibiting unauthorized people from accessing election equipment and improving training for election workers. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 237: Nonprofit organizations spending on ballot measure campaigns wouldn’t have to disclose their donors unless their spending on two or more measures accounts for more than 30% of the group’s spending over three years. >> READ MORE

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House Bill 1044: When a state lawmaker resigns, a political party vacancy committee appoints their replacement. This measure, which was signed into law, requires the committees to be made up of more people in an attempt to make them more representative of a House or Senate district’s makeup.  >> READ MORE

House Bill 1060: Individual donations to school board candidates will be limited to $2,500 under this measure, which was brought in response to big money in 2021 contests.  >> READ MORE

House Bill 1086: The Vote Without Fear Act would prohibit people from openly carrying firearms near polling places.

House Bill 1273: This bill would make it a crime to threaten an election worker, including by posting their personal information online. >> READ MORE

Social services legislation

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Senate Bill 156: Lawmakers hope to save mental health therapists from billing headaches and financial clawbacks under this legislation that follows an investigation by the Colorado News Collaborative. Specifically, the measure will end a prior authorization requirement which providers say can delay care for months. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1268: Lawmakers would require an audit of reimbursement rates paid to mental health and substance abuse centers under this measure passed after a Colorado News Collaborative investigation with the Colorado Sun found rates for private practice providers are far lower than for those in the state’s 17 community mental health clinics. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1375: A new task force would work on how to prevent children from running away from out-of-home placements, after a Colorado Sun/9 News investigation found children and teens are running away from the 24/7 residential centers and in two instances were struck by cars and killed. >> READ MORE

Climate and environment

Senate Bill 118: This bill would add geothermal energy systems under the umbrella of policies that apply to solar energy systems, including when it comes to fees assessed by the government for installation and public funding. 

Senate Bill 193: This measure would set aside $110 million to create and fund a number of grant programs aimed at reducing air pollution. This money would go toward a long list of initiatives. Check them out here.

House Bill 1151: The Colorado Water Conservation Board would create a program to encourage people to replace irrigated turf with water-conserving landscaping under this legislation. 

House Bill 1218: This measure would require that certain new commercial and multifamily residential buildings being constructed be built with electric vehicle charging for at least 10% of their parking spaces.

House Bill 1244: This bill creates a new program in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment charged with setting up new monitoring sites for toxic industrial emissions and researching which toxins should have stricter emissions limits.

House Bill 1345: The PFAS, or “forever chemicals,” sales ban would stop distribution of common items made with the toxic waterproofing materials, including carpet and food packaging, starting in 2024. An exception was carved out for cookware, which would have to include warning labels. 

Transportation

Senate Bill 151: This measure would allocate $5 million to established a Colorado Department of Transportation fund to pay for wildlife road crossings with the intention of trying to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. The new fund would be able to receive gifts, grants and private donations.

Senate Bill 180: This measure allocates $28 million, most of it to RTD, so that Coloradans can get free bus and train rides in the summer of 2022 and the summer of 2023. The aim of the legislation is to encourage people to try out transit in the hopes that they will form a habit. The bill also includes $30 million to help the Colorado Department of Transportation further develop its transit system. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1028: Bicyclists or scooter riders may now make a rolling stop at stop signs, under this measure, as long as they slow  to ensure traffic is clear before continuing through an intersection.

House Bill 1074: Motorists who drive in the Interstate 70 mountain express toll lanes in Clear Creek County when they are closed and supposed to be serving as the emergency shoulder will face a $250 fine starting in August. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1104: This bill encourages the construction of recreation trails along or beneath powerlines. It does not, however, include any funding for such work.

House Bill 1150: This bill, which was signed into law, eliminates a requirement that drivers sign tickets for minor traffic violations. The idea behind the measure is to limit law enforcement officer’s exposure to traffic and limit interactions between officers and the people they pull over.

House Bill 1162: Motorists would be allowed to use digital license plates on their vehicles, with a study of the effectiveness of the policy change one year after its implementation.

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House Bill 1314: This bill is aimed at making towing companies more accountable, including by requiring that they take photos of a vehicle they are about to tow and document the reason why they are towing it; retain information about nonconsensual tows for three years; let people retrieve the contents of a towed vehicle; and that they let the owner of a towed vehicle retrieve the vehicle without payment after the owner signs documents affirming they owe the towing company money.

Miscellaneous bills (that you should still know about!)

Senate Bill 12: This legislation would require the state archivist to submit a proposal to the State Capitol Building Advisory Committee for the creation of a permanent display of the original Colorado Constitution in the Capitol building. The archivist would also be directed to submit a proposal for an online educational exhibition of the Colorado Constitution and opportunities to provide updated physical copies of the Constitution within state offices.

Senate Bill 105: The Senate president and the House speaker are now required every year to invite representatives from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to give an address to a joint session of the General Assembly. 

Senate Bill 139: June 19 is now a state holiday for Juneteenth because of this measure.

Senate Bill 239: This measure would allocate $27 million to the Department of Personnel and Administration, including $23 million for the General Assembly to use for improvements to legislative spaces. Some of the money would go toward security upgrades at the Capitol.

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House Bill 1090: This measure clarified child neglect laws to say that children aren’t considered neglected if they’re walking or biking to school or playing outside or staying at home alone under commonly accepted circumstances.

House Bill 1413: This measure allocated $400,000 so that the legislature can study and establish policies allowing people to remotely testify before legislative committees.

12 measures that didn’t pass but that you need to know about

Senate Bill 33: This bill would have exempted fruit, vegetables, nuts and meat — as long as they weren’t in a substantially processed form — from a state mandate that says non-alcohol products can’t exceed 20% of a liquor store’s sales. The objective was to help address food deserts in the state by making liquor stores a place where people could also pick up items like broccoli, watermelon and salmon. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 80: The state’s fire prevention and control division would have needed to conduct and report on investigations of wildland fires to a state committee. The bill also would have created a multimillion-dollar fund to help pay for the investigations after a Colorado Public Radio report found the state ranks among the worst at solving the cause of large, human-started wildfires. 

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Senate Bill 128: A proposal to address “implicit” or unintentional racial bias in how people are excluded from Colorado jury service died after facing opposition from the state’s district attorneys. Proponents said the bill would have addressed what they say is a longstanding problem of people of color being disqualified from serving on juries on racial pretext. But opponents said it could have limited the ability of attorneys to properly vet potential jurors and be too expensive to implement. Opponents also worried it would skew juries to be anti-law enforcement. >> READ MORE

Senate Bill 175: Using mobile devices — your cellphone — would have been prohibited while driving unless the device was hands-free under this legislation that failed to advance before the legislature’s 2022 session ended.

House Bill 1033: This bill would have allowed people age 21 and older— and who are otherwise eligible to possess a handgun — to carry a concealed gun without a permit. It also would have extended the duration of existing concealed handgun permits from five years to the permit holder’s life. And it would have barred local governments and public colleges and universities from regulating the carrying of concealed handguns.

House Bill 1062: Food for home consumption is already exempt from state sales and use taxes in Colorado. This bill would have extended that exemption to include take-out and restaurant fare. 

House Bill 1064: An effort to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and nicotine products, including menthol cigarettes, failed to pass. The bill — which was aimed at reducing access to fruity- and sweet- flavored products that cater to teens — faced heavy industry opposition. It also would have diverted some $25 million a year from a new preschool program touted by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1079: This Republican proposal would have effectively outlawed abortion by defining an “unborn child at every stage of gestation” as a “person” in state statute. 

House Bill 1095: The bill would have let physician assistants practice with less oversight from doctors, which its proponents said would increase access to health care for people in underserved communities. The bill’s opponents argued it would leave patients with a poorer quality of care or create departments staffed entirely by physician assistants, who could be hired for less than the salary of a doctor. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1271: Guardians would have been required to notify the family members of someone under legal guardianship within one week if that person changed a place of residence, was hospitalized or died. The guardian would have also had to develop a plan to care for the person under guardianship and update it annually, with input from the person under guardianship and their family.  The bill’s demise comes after scandals have pushed lawmakers to reform the state’s guardianship program. >> READ MORE

House Bill 1305: An effort to provide $57.5 million in fee relief related to the state’s new paid family and parental leave program was abandoned despite it being touted by Polis. Lawmakers said they would use the money for other purposes. The bill would have reduced the fee split between employees and employees for six months. >> READ MORE

House Concurrent Resolution 1002: The Colorado constitution allows for lawmakers to request that bills be read at length on two different days in both the House and Senate. Republicans have used the provision in recent years as a delay tactic. If this resolution had passed, it would have asked voters to decide whether to amend the constitution to get rid of the read-it-at-length provision. 

Colorado Sun staff writer Michael Booth contributed to this report.



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