Bills on concert tickets, drug crime, public meetings latest vetoed by Gov. Polis

capitol dome Colorado stormy sky clouds
Ryan Warner/CPR News
The gold dome of the Colorado state capitol on a stormy day in May, 2023.

Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday vetoed four bills while signing more than two dozen others into law. So far this year, he’s rejected ten measures that passed in the Democratic-controlled legislature. Wednesday is his final day to sign or veto bills; any remaining will become law without his signture.

Tuesday’s vetoed measures were:

  • SB23-060, Consumer Protection in Event Ticketing Sales
  • HB23-1258, Drug Crime Cost Task Force
  • HB23-1259, Open Meetings Law Executive Session Violations
  • HB23-1190, Affordable Housing Right of First Refusal

Concert tickets bill killed

SB23-060 was described as a way to crackdown on sketchy practices by sellers — and resellers — of event tickets. It would have declared that it’s a deceptive trade practice for online ticket sellers to do things like use bots, hide service charges and fees, boost prices mid-transaction and engage in unauthorized resales.

Polis vetoed the measure. He agreed with some of the changes, especially the idea of cracking down on software bots that break purchasing limits. He also supported the idea that resellers shouldn’t be able to mimic legitimate event websites or disguise the true cost of a ticket.

But he ultimately rejected the bill, citing concerns from groups like the National Consumers League. He said that the bill would unfairly stifle the secondary market and shut down “innovative products,” such as services that wait in virtual queues to help consumers buy tickets. He also criticized “potential ambiguities” in the law.

SB23-060 was supported by the nation’s biggest ticket vendors, including Live Nation, AEG and AXS, according to state lobbying records.

Consumer groups had criticized the bill, saying that it should have banned events giants like AEG from the practice of “ticket holdbacks,” where they “secretly” hold back tickets while claiming to be sold out, creating “fake scarcity.” They also wanted a requirement that the events companies report bots to law enforcement

No task force on drug crime costs

HB23-1258 was meant to determine the amount of money spent on drug laws and drug-related crimes in Colorado. Specifically, the bill would have earmarked about $100,000 for an actuarial study of the costs of drug crime investigations and enforcement, trials, incarceration and rehabilitation. A task force would have made recommendations on how to reduce those costs.

Polis, who last year supported the effort to increase penalties for fentanyl possession, vetoed the measure. There were concerns, he wrote, that the bill was “designed” to make the case for reducing drug crime enforcement. Polis wanted the report to also examine “the potential societal costs and risks associated with a reduction of drug crime enforcement and sentencing.”

This kind of work would have been better be taken on, he argued, by the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice — which the legislature effectively killed off this year. Polis said he will be continuing some of the work of the CCJJ through an executive action.

Changes to sunshine law vetoed

HB23-1259 would have changed what happens when a local public body is accused of violating the noticing requirements in Colorado's open meetings law. If local officials don’t follow the rules when announcing they will be conducting business behind closed doors in an executive session, they can be sued.

Currently, those lawsuits can lead to the local government paying costs and attorney fees, if it loses, for the plaintiffs. The bill would have cut down on those potential payouts to plaintiffs — saying, in particular, that they don’t have to be paid for “pro se” plaintiffs who represent themselves in court.

The bill came in response to scores of lawsuits filed by a single attorney over three years, who often settled the cases for about $3,000 each, according to the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.

Supporters of the bill, like Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger , said it only applied to "minor mistakes that do not compromise transparency or accountability" and was intended to stop “bad actors” without reducing public access. For his part, the attorney, Matt Roane, said that school districts have a “compliance problem” and not a “lawyer problem,” according to CFOIC.

Polis wrote in a veto letter that local public bodies “have a responsibility to comply and meet certain requirements that ensure all Coloradans have access throughout the public process.”

Affordable housing bill vetoed

A measure that would have allowed city governments the “right of first refusal” to buy certain apartment buildings also came in for the veto stamp, representing a philosophical split among Democrats as they debate what to do about housing affordability. 

Meanwhile, Polis signed a long list of bills into law on Tuesday, ranging from a $20 million plan for upgrades to the Capitol to a measure limiting how the state and local governments work with immigration authorities.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to better explain what HB23-1259 would have done and to include a quote from its sponsor.