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Rental homes are seen under construction on Oct. 17, 2022, in Castle Rock. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

The Colorado legislature on Sunday ran out of time to debate four big bills before the 2023 lawmaking term ends Monday. 

The measures would have restricted when landlords can evict, studied the possibility of a single-payer health system in Colorado, expanded the jurisdiction of an ethics commission to include elected officials and top employees in school districts and special districts, and eliminated state standardized assessments in social studies.

Legislative leadership decides each year which bills to prioritize for passage as the 120-day lawmaking term winds down. It’s not unusual for some measures to be shelved to ensure others pass.

Here are details on the notable measures that died on the vine in the 2023 legislative session: 

House Bill 1065, expanding the Independent Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction

This bill would have granted the state’s Independent Ethics Commission, which investigates alleged violations of state ethics laws and issues opinions on them, jurisdiction over elected officials and top employees in school districts and special districts. 

The commission already has jurisdiction over employees and public officials of the executive and legislative branches of the state, higher education institutions and any county or municipal governments. 

The lead sponsors, all Democrats, were Reps. Tammy Story and Jennifer Parenti and Sen. Janice Marchman. The bill ran out of time in the Senate after passing the House.

Marchman said the bill was a good policy and it passed the House early in the session and that she thought it was going to pass. She vowed to try again with the measure next year.

“I feel like as a targeted seat, my bills were scrutinized more heavily, and I think that is part of why my bill got swept away in the last couple days of the session,” said Marchman, whose election in November wasn’t expected given the competitiveness of her northern Colorado district.

House Bill 1171, the just-cause evictions bill

This measure, a cornerstone housing policy for progressive Democrats in the legislature this year, would have prohibited landlords from evicting their residential tenants or declining to renew their lease without “just cause.” 

The bill was complicated, but it would have generally defined just cause as being when a tenant breaches a lease agreement. Just cause would have also been defined as when a landlord decides to substantially repair or renovate a housing unit or wants to move a family member into the unit. A landlords’ decision to withdraw a unit from the rental market also would have constituted just cause.

The lead sponsors of the bill were all Democrats: Reps. Javier Mabrey and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Sens. Julie Gonzales and Nick Hinrichsen. It ran out of time in the Senate after passing the House.

“I’m disappointed,” Hinrichsen said. “I think that it’s part of a broader package of bills that were part of a focus on protecting renters. We have inadequate renting protections in this state. It was a critical piece. I expect to be working on it next year. It’s not going away.” 

Mabrey also vowed on Twitter to bring the bill back for debate next year.

“This bill stood for the simple notion that landlords should not be able to evict tenants without cause,” he said. “Our communities are being uprooted by the housing crisis. This anti-displacement policy would have kept Coloradans housed.”

House Bill 1209, studying a single-payer health care system

The University of Colorado School of Public Health would have been charged with studying the possibility of implementing a single-payer health care system in the state and how it would affect health care facilities, insurance carriers and different socioeconomic and racial groups. 

A report, drafted with the help of a board that would have been appointed in part by legislative leadership and the governor, would have been due to the General Assembly by Oct. 1, 2024. The report would have been based on model legislation selected for analysis by the School of Public Health.

The measure, which ran out of time in the Senate after passing the House, would have cost the state about $300,000. 

The lead sponsors of the bill were all Democrats: Reps. Andrew Boesenecker and Karen McCormick and Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis.

“We ran out of time,” Jaquez Lewis said. She blamed the death of the measure on GOP filibustering of other legislation in the final days of the lawmaking term.

An elementary classroom at Skyline Academy on April 21, 2023, in Denver. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

Senate Bill 61, eliminating state standardized assessments in social studies

Elementary and middle schoolers would have stopped taking state standardized assessments in social studies starting next year under this bill. The measure was brought by a group of Democrats who wanted to spare Colorado teachers and students the time and stress of testing and save the state more than $1 million each year. 

The measure passed the Senate but then died in the House after it was laid over until Tuesday, which is after the lawmaking term ends.

The lead sponsors of the bill were all Democrats: Sens. Chris Kolker and Janice Marchman and Reps. Cathy Kipp and Meghan Lukens. A spokesman for the House Democratic caucus said the bill was purposefully laid over until after the end of the session — effectively killing it — and that the chamber didn’t run out of time to debate it.  

“I’m disappointed that we did the work early in the session and that it was mischaracterized, in my opinion,” Kolker said. “The messaging on that did not get through. The arguments made that ‘if it’s not tested it’s not taught’ are absolutely untrue.”

Kolker said he and Marchman will discuss whether to pursue the legislation again in 2024. 

Marchman said “we will not be running this again until we have a new governor.” She said Gov. Jared Polis “opposed this from the beginning.” 


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Elliott Wenzler

Elliott Wenzler is a reporter for the Colorado Sun, covering local politics, the state legislature and other topics. She also assists with The Unaffiliated newsletter. Previously, she was a community reporter in Douglas County for Colorado Community Media. She has won awards for her...

Jesse Paul

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...