2019 Colorado legislative session: What passed, what failed and what's left

Posted at 3:07 PM, Apr 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-29 11:24:26-04

DENVER -- The Colorado state legislature is getting ready to wind down its session this week. Before the sessions adjourns on May 3, however, there are still hundreds of bills that are up for debate.

Lawmakers headed to the capitol for a rare Saturday session for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Here’s a look at some of the big bills that passed this session, what failed and what’s left.

Red Flag Bill: Passed

The Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, otherwise known as the red flag law, passed this legislative session and was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis. The bill allows law enforcement to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

The bill faced steep criticism from Republicans and dozens of Colorado counties. Law enforcement officers are now working with the Attorney General’s Office to come up with policies to enforce the law.

Oil and Gas reform: Passed

Senate bill 181 was another contentious bill this legislative session. It gives more control to local governments to approve or deny drilling permits within their jurisdiction. The bill passed out of both chambers despite deep opposition from Republicans and the oil and gas industry.

The bill also fundamentally changed the priorities of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to focus on health, safety and the environment first rather than on fostering development.

Free, full-day kindergarten: Likely to pass

A bill to offer state funding for free, full-day kindergarten for families passed unanimously in the senate last week.

It’s now heading back to the house for lawmakers there to accept changes made on Monday. After that, the bill will be off to the governor’s desk for his approval.

Full-day kindergarten was a major priority for Governor Polis during his first State of the State address. However, the bill does not mandate that children must attend full-day classes or that districts must offer them.

Instead, the bill requires districts to submit a plan for how they could phase these classes in without charging families extra money.

Repeal the death penalty: Failed

A bill brought on by Democrat lawmakers failed to make ground in the senate.

Bill co-sponsors were hopeful that they would be able to repeal the death penalty since Democrats control both chambers and the governor’s mansion.

The death penalty has only been used once in Colorado in nearly 50 years.

Paid family leave: Punted

Democrats decided last week to forego a bill to offer paid family leave this legislative session after receiving push back form large business groups.

The proposal would have provided up to 12 weeks of leave with up to $1,000 a week in benefits, without workers having to worry about their jobs.

The bill’s co-sponsors announced their intentions to conduct a study on paid family leave’s viability. They’re hoping to re-introduce the plan in 2020.

Children’s vaccination bill: future is uncertain

A bill that would make it more difficult for parents to seek an exemption for their children so that they do not have to be vaccinated passed out of the House Saturday. It still faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

However, even if it passes, the future of the bill is still unclear and Gov. Polis could end up vetoing it. The governor voiced concerns about the bill last week.

Equal Pay: Likely to pass

A bill to create equal pay passed the House Saturday and is headed back to the Senate for approval of several amendments before moving on to the governor’s desk.

The bill punishes employers and compensates employees in cases where gender played a role in wages.

Comprehensive sex education for students: Future is unclear

After several late-night debates over a bill to clarify school requirements to include comprehensive sex education, the bill passed the House in February and has been waiting for the Senate to take it up.

The bill prohibits schools from only teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals. It also includes language on consent, STDs/STIs and healthy relationships.

The Senate will begin floor work on the bill on Monday.

A full list of bills debated this session can be found here.