2020 Legislation

Below are measures I sponsored in the 2020 legislative session, which began January 8, adjourned March 14 due to COVID-19, resumed May 26, and concluded on June 15.  To see details on any of these, you can visit the Colorado General Assembly web site at http://leg.colorado.gov/bills.

To see all bills I have sponsored in prior years, plus some other significant bills I have supported, visit my legislation page here.

Also, you can read a PDF version of my 2019 legislative newsletter here and a PDF newsletter for 2017-2018 here.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE

Tax Fairness Act – (HB20-1420) – In 2017 and again in 2020, the U.S. Congress made changes to federal tax law that disproportionately benefit affluent individuals and corporations. These federal law changes impact Colorado’s tax filings too, even though Colorado voters never approved them and the Colorado legislature never debated them.  Due to COVID-19, the Colorado legislature had to cut over $3 billion from K-12 education, higher education, healthcare, transportation, small business support and more to meet our constitutional obligation to balance our budget.  To keep these budget cuts from going even deeper, I co-sponsored this bill to stop the impact of these federal tax loopholes on Colorado and instead increase our commitment to funding K-12 education and supporting working families via the Earned Income Tax Credit.

STATUS – passed House & Senate; pending governor’s signature.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

Prohibitions Against Price Gouging in Disaster Emergencies (HB20-1414) – At the outset of COVID-19, Colorado was one of only about 15 states with no specific prohibition against price gouging – that is, charging unconscionable or abusive prices to rip off consumers.  I sponsored this bill to update the Colorado Consumer Protection Act to empower the attorney general and each district attorney to take action against sellers engaging in price gouging.  Because retailers themselves may sometimes be victims of price gouging by another actor in the supply chain, the bill also makes clear that just passing on prices directly attributable to costs imposed by suppliers is not a violation of the new law.

STATUS – passed House & Senate; pending governor’s signature.

Continue HOA Information Office & Create Alternative Dispute Resolution Process (HB20-1200) – Millions of Coloradans live in an HOA (home owners’ association).  Hopefully HOAs provide useful services like maintenance of common areas and recreational amenities in exchange for monthly dues and are governed well and transparently.  Sometimes they are not, leading to homeowner frustrations and concerns about lack of means of quick and inexpensive redress.  Originally, pursuant to recommendations from a non-partisan staff “sunset report” about the HOA information office, this bill aimed to continue the HOA information office as a resource for homeowners and to create an administrative dispute resolution process as an alternative to having to go to court to resolve complaints like lack of access to HOA records and other violations of homeowners’ rights under the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCOIA). Due to significant state budget impacts from COVID-19, it will not be possible to create the dispute resolution process this year, so the bill instead simply seeks to continue the HOA information office for the recommended period of 5 years.

STATUS – signed into law.

Consumer & Employee Dispute Resolution Fairness Act (SB20-093) – Forced arbitration practices in consumer and employment contracts abridge people’s rights. Instead of resolving a debate before a neutral judge, arbitration privatizes the justice system, lacks transparency, and lacks protections against conflicts of interest by arbitrators and companies that force arbitration on consumers. I sponsored this bill to require greater disclosures and transparency in arbitration and to provide remedies for non-compliance.

STATUS – postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19.

CONSERVATION

Optional Energy Efficiency Features for New Residential Construction (HB20-1155) – if you want energy- and money-saving features in a new home like electric vehicle charging ports in the garage or an electric heat-pump, it’s much cheaper and easier to have those features added when the house is being built than to have to hire a contractor years later.  This bill requires home builders to offer these options to buyers while the house is being built.  Buyers who aren’t interested can decline.  With rapid growth expected around Colorado for decades to come, this bill aims to save home buyers money and energy.

STATUS – signed into law.

Requirement for Reasonableness in Charges Paid By Rural Electric Associations (HB20-1225) – REAs (aka rural electric cooperatives) provide power to hundreds of thousands of Coloradans (including in Arapahoe County) and are obligated to do so at the lowest rates consistent with reliable supply.  Sometimes however other coops from which REAs obtain their power at wholesale impose high or at least questionable costs.  This bill seeks to clarify that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction to review complaints about theses costs, so that REAs customers’ rates are not excessively high.

STATUS – signed into law.

GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY & EFFICIENCY

Create a New Judicial District for Arapahoe County (HB20-1026) – Colorado has a total of 22 judicial districts, and that hasn’t changed in over 50 years.  Right now Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties are in the 18th judicial district, which has over 1 million residents – about 1/6 of the state’s population, far more than any other district.  Effective starting 2025, this bill would place Arapahoe County in the 18th judicial district and establish a new 23rd judicial district for Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties.  This would enable more efficient operation of the courts for all four counties.

STATUS – signed into law.

Update Laws Governing Attorney General’s Office (SB20-063) – The Colorado Attorney General, elected every 4 years, is the top law enforcement official in our state and the people’s lawyer.  This bill updates laws regulating how the office of the attorney operates, clarifies the responsibilities of deputies and assistants who report to the attorney general, and clarifies proper handling of settlement funds recovered by the state in legal actions.

STATUS – signed into law.

Require Online Availability of Judicial Opinions (HB20-1130) – opinions from the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court are the law.  They interpret our statutes and our state constitution and help people understand what their rights are.  So they should be publicly available and free.  This bill would both put into law the existing practice of our courts of making opinions available on their web sites and require them, within a few years, to post older (pre-internet age) opinions as well.  Older opinions are available through private subscription services and sometimes on web sites, but you shouldn’t have to pay to access the law, and people shouldn’t have to rely on unofficial sources either.

STATUS – postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Reforming Procedures for Defendants Who Are Incompetent To Proceed (SB20-181) – Being “competent to proceed” in the criminal justice system means that a defendant is mentally capable of realizing the charges being brought against him/her and is able to assist in his/her defense by engaging with his/her attorney.  It is a violation of the U.S. Constitution to continue criminal proceedings against an “incompetent” defendant.  Colorado has struggled for years to quickly evaluate defendants whose competency may be in question and to provide “restoration” (treatment) for defendants who are not competent.  Presently, Colorado is under a consent decree from the federal court due to past delays in these evaluations and restorations.  In this context, this bill seeks to make a variety of reforms to Colorado’s systems for addressing incompetent and potentially incompetent defendants so that our criminal justice resources are used to prosecute those who are fundamentally a threat to public safety rather than fundamentally struggling with a behavioral health condition.

STATUS – signed into law.

HONORING OUR VETERANS

75th Anniversary of End of World War II Resolution (SJR20-012) – I co-sponsored this resolution with other legislators representing Aurora and Colorado Springs – our foremost military communities – to honor Colorado’s contributions to our victory in the second World War.  This resolution also acknowledges the Colorado Freedom Memorial, located in House District 36 in North Aurora, which has painstakingly collected the names of all Colorado service members who gave their lives in World War II and other conflicts since statehood.

STATUS – passed House & Senate.