House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, a Democrat from Pueblo, speaks on the House floor Feb. 16, 2021. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)
Of the 502 laws passed during the 2021 Colorado legislative session, 169 go into effect today. These acts include legislation to combat climate change, reduce gun violence, and promote financial literacy in high schools. The legislation will also create a Special Olympics license plate.
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“Today, Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws are more inclusive and insurers can no longer use consumer data to discriminate,” said Daneya Esgar, House majority leader in a press release today. “Communities across our state will start to see improved mental health services and better schools, and more Coloradans will be able to visit our state parks for less money.”
Several of the bills that go into effect today were sponsored by Esgar, who represents Pueblo, including House Bill 21-1108, which adds the terms “gender expression” and “gender identity” to statutes that prohibit discrimination against protected classes. This bill was also sponsored by Sen. Dominick Moreno, who represents northern Denver.
Senate Bill 21-78, which requires a person to report the loss or theft of a firearm to law enforcement within five days of discovering that the firearm was lost or stolen, is among the bills that go into effect today. The first offense for failing to report a lost or stolen firearm is a civil infraction with a $25 fine. The next offense is considered a misdemeanor and has a maximum fine of $500. This bill was sponsored by Sens. Sonya Jaquez Lewis and Jessie Danielson, and Reps. Tom Sullivan and Leslie Herod.
Sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts, Sen. Kerry Donovan and Jaquez Lewis, the Prescription Insulin Pricing And Access House bill that goes into effect today clarifies that the current law, which establishes a $100 cap on a person’s month supply of prescription insulin, is for the person’s entire insulin supply, regardless of the number of prescriptions a person has.
Senate Bill 21-129 requires the state department of human services to establish a Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot Program. The goal of this program is provide “no-cost, stigma-free, confidential, and effective behavioral health treatment” to reduce the suicide rate and suicidal ideation among veterans. This act, sponsored by Senate President Leroy Garcia and Rep. David Ortiz, provides $1.7 million to the Colorado Department of Human Services to enact the program.
House Bill 21-1200 requires the Colorado Board of Education to review current financial literacy standards for high school students. The act requires high schools to tell students and their families about the importances of filling out the free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA, and provide assistance if the students or families request help.
Introduced on March 4, House Bill 21-1173 prohibits state universities from using legacy preferences as admission criteria. Schools are allowed to ask students about relationships to alumni of the schools to gather data.
House Bill 21-1065 allows private employers to give preference to a veteran of the National Guard or of the armed forces, and a spouse of a service member killed while in the line of duty, when hiring employees. The veteran or spouse of a service member killed must be equally as qualified as the other applicants to receive the preference. The Veterans’ Hiring Preference Act was sponsored by Ortiz and Garcia.
House Bill 21-1160, or the Care Of Dogs And Cats In Pet Animal Facilities act, requires animal shelters to give each dog and cat held in the shelter with “timely veterinary care to address and prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable pain and suffering.” The act also requires shelters to address the behavioral needs of the dogs or cats held in the shelters to ensure that the animal is not “housed or kept in a manner that fosters stereotypic or self-mutilating behavior.”
House Bill 21-1194 creates the Immigration Legal Defense Fund, which appropriates $100,000 to the fund for the 2021-2022 state fiscal year. The fund, administered by the Department of Labor and Employment, is granted to non-profit organizations that provide representation, legal advice, and counseling to clients who are involved in an immigration proceeding. This bill was sponsored by representatives Kerry Tipper and Naquetta Ricks, and Sen. Dominick Moreno, and requires that organizations who receive grants from the Immigration Legal Defense Fund report information about who the money went to and what services it provided.
Introduced on May 18, House Bill 21-1323 creates a license plate for Special Olympics Colorado for people who make a donation to a qualified Colorado-based nonprofit that provides athletic training to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics License Plate legislation appropriates $13,460 to the DMV to implement the act for the 2021-2022 state fiscal year.
Under previous law, a high school teacher who has sexual contact with a student who is 18 years of age or older had not necessarily committed a crime. Senate Bill 21-017, or the Sexual Contact By An Educator act, states that a teacher who subjects a high school student who is 18 years old or older to “sexual intrusion or sexual penetration” has committed the crime of abuse of public trust, a class 1 misdemeanor, by an educator if the teacher is at least four years older than the student. According to the act, consent by the student is not a defense to the crime of abuse of public trust.
The act requires school districts to report if an employee is dismissed or resigns over allegations of sexual acts with a student 18 years old or older, if the allegations are supported by “a preponderance of the evidence.”
The act also requires public schools to confirm with the Department of Education, prior to hiring an employee, that the potential new hire was not dismissed or resigned from a previous school based on allegations of sexual acts with a student 18 years old or older.
The Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act, or Senate Bill 21-88, creates a statutory cause of action for victims of sexual misconduct that occurred when the victim was under the age of 18. The act allows the victim to bring a civil claim against the person who committed the sexual misconduct and against the organization that operates or manages a youth-related activity or program if “the organization knew or should have known of a risk of sexual misconduct against minors and the sexual misconduct occurred while the victim was participating in a youth program managed by the organization.”
According to the act, the cause of action is available to a victim that occurred on or after Jan. 1, 1960. Victims of sexual misconduct that happened between Jan. 1, 1960 and Jan. 1, 2022, must take action prior to Jan. 1, 2025. There is no time limitation for a victim to bring a claim for sexual misconduct that takes place on Jan. 1, 2022 or after. This bill was sponsored by Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Matt Soper, and Sen. Fields and Danielson.
The Colorado legislative session began on Jan. 13 and ended on June 12. The Colorado House Democrats posted a full list of the laws that went into effect today.
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