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.
Tax Fairness Act – (HB20-1420) – The U.S. Congress recently has made changes to federal tax law that disproportionately benefit a very small fraction of taxpayers – the most 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, health care, transportation, small business support and more to meet our constitutional obligation to balance our state 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: signed into law.
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 – 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: signed into law.
Continue HOA Information Office & Create Alternative Dispute Resolution Process (HB20-1200) – Millions of Coloradans including many in Aurora and Arapahoe County live in HOAs. Sometimes questions arise concerning homeowners’ rights in matters of covenants, fines and disputes. I sponsored this bill to extend by 5 years the HOA Information Office as a hub for HOA residents to seek information and lodge complaints if necessary. To contact the HOA information office, visit https://colorado.gov/pacific/dora/hoa-information-and-resource-center. 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.
Energy Efficiency Options for New Residential Construction (HB20-1155) – Energy efficient, low carbon options like solar PV, solar hot water, and heat pumps are increasingly available and affordable for new homes, but is more difficult and expensive to retrofit these options after a home is built. I sponsored this bill so that builders will offer energy efficiency options at the time of purchase, giving buyers the option to save money and energy over the lifetime of owning a home. Buyers can decline anything they don’t want, and builders can continue to employ contractors of their choosing. STATUS: signed into law.
Fairness in Charges Paid by Rural Electric Associations (HB20-1225) – REAs (a.k.a. rural electric cooperatives) provide power to hundreds of thousands of Coloradans (including in Arapahoe County) and must do so at the lowest rates consistent with reliable power supply. Sometimes however other coops from which REAs obtain their power at wholesale impose high or at least questionable costs. I sponsored this bill to affirm that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission may hear complaints about these costs to protect ratepayers. 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 newly published 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 of uncertain accuracy either. STATUS – postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Reforming Procedures for Defendants Who Are Incompetent To Proceed (SB20-181) – Increasingly, defendants with mental health conditions, traumatic brain injuries, or intellectual / developmental disabilities languish in our jails because they are not legally “competent to stand trial” due to the severity of their condition. Often these individuals are picked up for only lower level offenses. I sponsored this bill to help redirect defendants who are not “competent to stand trial” out of our jails and into non-criminal justice mental health treatment. 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.