In the first weeks of Colorado’s legislative session, the two major parties have staked out their positions on some state-shaking issues like health insurance, taxes and paid family leave.
But those only cover a fraction of the policies and topics lawmakers will debate this year.
Here are some of the dozens of other proposals that have arrived at the Colorado State Capitol so far. The Democratic ones are more likely to succeed, since that’s the party in power — but you never know.
Goal: Increase recycling rates.
How: Push the state to create a “recycling market development center”; create potential tax reimbursements for recycling businesses; launch a statewide recycling campaign, all with the aim of increasing Colorado’s comparatively low recycling rate.
Sponsored by: Sens. Kevin Priola (R) and Tammy Story (D), Reps. Lisa Cutter (R) and Jeni James Arndt (D)
Goal: Reduce the use of single-use plastics.
How: Explicitly allow local governments to regulate plastics, including by potentially banning or restricting plastic grocery bags. A 1993 law has prevented many cities from enacting their own plastics rules.
Sponsored by: Sen. Kerry Donovan (D), Reps. Meg Froelich (D) and Rep. Alex Valdez (D)
Goal: Discourage distracted driving.
How: Create penalties of up to $300 and 4 points for people caught using a mobile electronic device while driving, unless it’s via a hands-free accessory. This would expand the state’s existing ban on texting while driving.
Sponsored by: Sen. Lois Court (D) and Rep. Dylan Roberts (D)
Goal: More money for roads.
How: Require 10% of current state sales taxes go to the highway users tax fund for transportation spending.This aligns with the overall Republican message of dealing with transportation needs via the state’s existing resources. Currently, the HUTF is largely funded from fees and taxes related to transportation. The fund mostly goes to state highway projects, but localities can spend their smaller share on transit.
Sponsored by: Sen. Paul Lundeen (R) and Rep. Terri Carver (R)
Goal: Restore the previous glory of Colorado’s license plates.
How: Revert to the old color scheme of the state’s license plates: green mountains on a white sky. Currently, it’s the opposite. To get those old-is-new license plates out into circulation faster, existing license plates will be canceled when a car changes ownership and a new plate issued at no cost. The change is supposed to “improve legibility and enforcement.”
Sponsored by: Sen. Kevin Priola (R) and Rep. Alex Valdez (D)
Goal: Improve imagery to represent people with disabilities.
How: Require a new accessibility icon on signage at new and renovated state buildings. The new “Accessible Icon” design features the character leaning forward in the wheelchair in a more dynamic pose. Disability advocates have pushed nationwide for an icon that depicts a person in action.
Sponsored by: Sens. Rhonda Fields (D) and Tammy Story (D), Reps. Alex Valdez (D) and Dylan Roberts (D)
Goal: Reduce animal breeding at puppy and kitten mills.
How: Ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores and in public places and establish standards for breeders. The bill won’t restrict events held by adoption agencies. It’s being vigorously opposed by the American Kennel Club and related groups. Since being introduced, it’s remained one of the top-accessed bills on the General Assembly’s website.
Sponsored by: Rep. Monica Duran (D) and Sen. Mike Foote (D)
Courts & Justice
Goal: Change how the state handles juvenile sex offenders.
How: Among other changes, grant authorities more flexibility about whether to put first-time juvenile offenders on the sex offender registry and limit authorities’ ability to release information about juveniles on the registry.
Sponsored by: Reps. Adrienne Benavidez (D) and Jonathan Singer (D), Sen. Robert Rodriguez (D)
Goal: Make evictions filings less damaging for renters.
How: Suppress court records related to eviction proceedings, unless the eviction filings result in a final eviction order from the court. This could allow people who face eviction to leave with fewer long-term consequences, including their ability to secure future housing.
Sponsored by: Sen. Faith Winter (D) and Rep. Dominique Jackson (D)
Goal: Protect cannabis users at work.
How: Forbid firing workers for their off-duty use of cannabis and other activities that are legal under state — but not federal — law.
Sponsored by: Rep. Jovan Melton (D)
Goal: Reduce racial discrimination.
How: Forbid discrimination on the basis of certain traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles, including braids and dreadlocks. The bill mirrors new laws in California and New York.
Sponsored by: Reps. Leslie Herod (D) and Janet Buckner (D), Sen. Rhonda Field (D)
Goal: Improve mental health coverage.
How: Require health insurance to cover annual mental health wellness exams without cost to the patient.
Sponsored by: Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D) and Colin Larson (R), Sen. Rhonda Fields (D)
Goal: Reduce harms related to opiate use.
How: Among other changes, grant civil and criminal immunity for people who provide opiate antagonists, such as naloxone, to someone suffering an overdose. Allow pharmacists to sell syringes and needles without prescriptions. Allow needle exchanges to operate without prior approval from the local board of health.
Sponsored by: Reps. Chris Kennedy (D) and Leslie Herod (D), Sens. Brittany Pettersen (D) and Kevin Priola (R)
Goal: Make it easier to vote in more languages.
How: Require the Secretary of State and certain county clerks to provide multilingual ballot access, including through translated ballots and a hotline with translators, for use in the November 2020 elections and beyond.
Sponsored by: Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D) and Sen. Julie Gonzales (D)
Goal: Rein in spending on school board races.
How: Set limits on contributions to school board candidates. None exist in state law currently. The limit would be $2,500 for individuals and $25,000 from small donor committees. The lead sponsors both hail from Denver, where spending the last round of school board races topped a million dollars.
Sponsored by: Rep. Emily Sirota (D) and Sen. Julie Gonzales (D)
Goal: Make degrees more attainable.
How: Require state institutions to award academic credit for work-related experience.
Sponsored by: Reps. Barbara McLachlan (D) and Mark Baisley (R), Sens. Rachel Zenzinger (D) and Tammy Story (D)
Goal: Reduce the student debt burden.
How: Pay up to two years of student loan payments for recent associate’s and bachelor’s graduates.
Sponsored by: Sen. Stephen Fenberg (D), Reps. Leslie Herod (D) and Julie McCluskie (D)
Goal: Improve school safety.
How: Help school districts install hardware and software to link school buses with first responders, including through silent alarms, and provide notifications to parents.
Sponsored by: Sen. Don Coram (R) and Rep. James Wilson (R).