First Bill in Attainable Housing Effort Gets Bipartisan Approval

Denver--The Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee on a vote of 6-1 approved President Kevin J. Grantham's (R-Cañon City) bill to mitigate backend costs for builders and insurers. 

Senate Bill 45 is the first in a package addressing construction litigation reform coming before the Legislature this session. 

The bill requires all insurers with a duty to defend to evenly split all court costs associated with a construction defect action, reducing burdensome backend costs and incentivizing building. 

According to the Colorado Realtors Association, the average cost of a condo in Colorado rose to $260,000 last year, but new listings were down 40 percent. Senate Bill 45 takes a first step in bringing supply in line with demand.

"One of the barriers to more attainable, affordable housing for young people and first time home-buyers in Colorado is on the construction end where the high liability for builders has stalled the development of new affordable condos and multi-family homes," said Grantham. "With so many new people moving to our state, and so few new homes being built, this is a problem that is disproportionately affecting young and low-income Coloradans hoping for a pathway to prosperity, and I'm pleased we are able to take this bipartisan, bicameral first step to provide them some over-due relief."

Senate Bill 45 now moves on to a vote of the Committee on Appropriations. 

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Cooke Bill to Protect Rural Communities Passes Senate

Denver – Today, Majority Whip John Cooke’s bill to protect rural communities from the pervasive threat of wildfire passed the Senate unanimously.

Forest fires are a persistent threat in Colorado, and Senate Bill 17-050 helps prevent the damage and devastation left in their wake.

 

Senate Bill 50 merges two existing grants to provide continuous funding to rural communities at persistent risk of destructive wildfire.

 

“Consolidating these grants will help rural Colorado communities continue to reduce risks posed by wildfire and establish forward-looking land stewardship practices," said Cooke. "Wildfires are a constant threat to Colorado, and we will continue to take steps to protect people, property, and firefighters from the dangers fires present."

 

Senate Bill 17-050 now heads to the House. 

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Priola Bill Would Recognize Biliteracy on High School Diploma

Denver — Coloradans who graduate High School with a fluency in at least two languages could soon have that increasingly-important job skill noted on their diplomas, if a bill that cleared its first hurdle Wednesday makes it to the Governor's desk.

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Bill Eases Regulatory Burdens on Home-Based Child Care Providers

Denver -- Adults who host up to 4 unrelated children at their homes would be spared the need to get licensed as an official "day care provider," as current law requires, if a bill that passed its first test at the Statehouse today makes it into law.

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Tate Bill Easing Access to Home Loans Advances

Denver — At a time when home ownership seems increasingly out of reach for too many Americans, especially first-time buyers, a bill advancing through the Colorado Statehouse could help ease the path to a purchase by allowing family members to function as loan originators.

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Bill to Increase Labor Choice Gets Initial nod

Denver—Today, the Senate Business, Labor and Technology committee approved Senator Tim Neville's (R-South Jefferson County) bill strengthening Colorado worker's rights.

Senate bill 17-055 prohibits any employer from discriminating against employees based on participation in labor unions, and forbids them from requiring employees to begin or maintain membership, or pay dues to any labor union. 

The bill creates civil and criminal penalties for mandating union participation as a requirement for employment.

If passed, Colorado would join twenty-eight states that have passed similar Right to Work legislation. 

"As a strong advocate for liberty in every respect, creating more choice for middle class, hardworking Coloradans is a top priority for me," said Neville. "Right to Work legislation puts Coloradans before special interests by creating more options and reducing costly, burdensome mandates some families simply cannot afford."

Senate Bill 55 now moves on to a vote of the Committee of the Whole.

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Bill to Require Citizenship for Law Enforcement Employment Passes Committee

Denver—Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senator Bob Gardner's (R-El Paso County) bill to require Colorado peace officers to provide proof of U.S citizenship. 

Under current law, any work-authorized applicant is eligible to secure employment as a peace officer in Colorado. Senate Bill 17-120 allows Colorado law enforcement to list U.S citizenship as a requirement for applicants.

In 2016, the Denver Sheriff's Department incurred a $10,000 penalty from the U.S Department of Justice for violation of a new mandate requiring consideration of any work-authorized immigrant, not just U.S citizens.

"While Colorado's immigrant community is a point of pride in our state, we want our law enforcement officials and peace officers to be the most highly-trained, qualified individuals possible in order to keep our families safe," said Gardner.

"It is important that our law enforcement officials--who have power to arrest and authority to use force--possess a deep understanding and commitment to our system of laws, civil rights, and unique values. Our peace officers take an oath to defend our constitutions, and requiring that their first loyalty be to the United States is a commonsense step to ensure we hold our them to the highest standard." 

Senate Bill 120 now moves to a vote of the Committee of the Whole. 

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Bill to Remove Barriers to law Enforcement Case Work Passes First Committee

Denver – In a victory for commonsense law enforcement reform, Senator John Cooke (R-Greeley) unanimously passed Senate Bill 17-115 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 115 unties the hands of law enforcement personnel who, in the performance of their duties, are required to possess and view sexually explicit material.

Under current law, only peace officers are permitted to possess and view sexually explicit material. SB 115 expands verified personnel to include computer forensic examiners, crime analysts, lawyers, and other law enforcement personnel who obtain and review sexually sensitive materials.

"Current law impedes criminal investigations into sexual crimes in which law enforcement seeks to protect and provide justice for some of our state's most vulnerable populations," said Cooke. "By expanding the verified personnel who may possess sexually explicit materials, we can not only help ensure that law enforcement officials are given the tools to swiftly serve justice, but also keep those officials safe from prosecution in the execution of their duties."

Senate Bill 115 now moves on to a vote of the Committee of the Whole.

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Gardner Bill to Protect and Support Victims of Crime Gets Initial Ok

Denver—Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senator Bob Gardner's (R-El Paso County) bill to update and strengthen the Victims' Rights Act (VRA) on a unanimous vote go 5-0. 

The bill, Senate Bill 51, updates provisions of Colorado's Victims' Rights Act to reflect the changing landscape of the criminal justice system in Colorado over the 25 years since the VRA was first enacted in 1992. 

SB 17-051 expands the VRA to protect the victims of three existing crimes: failure to stop at the scene of a crime, violation of a protection order, and maliciously posting a private image. 

The bill grants victims the right to be informed of the results of their offender's probation or parole hearing, or the governor's decision to commute or pardon the sentence of their offender. It also expands the rights of a victim to be heard at court hearings.

"Criminal defendant's rights are always evolving, but after 25 years of the Victim's Rights Act, this measure is overdue for an update," said Gardner "Colorado's most vulnerable populations need a champion to ensure their right's are protected, and this updated VRA will continue to stand strong for those who, in their darkest moments, need our help the most."

Senate Bill 51 now moves on to a vote of the committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs.  

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Senator Neville Wins First Battle to Defend Student Free Speech

Denver—Today, the Senate Education committee unanimously approved Senator Tim Neville's (R-South Jefferson County) bill defending the constitutionally granted rights of Colorado students.

Senate bill 17-062 prohibits public colleges from restricting any students first amendment rights to free speech in any way in a public forum unless the restrictions are reasonable, serving significant government purpose, and do not limit freedom of expression. Free speech includes speaking, distributing materials, or holding a sign. 

The bill also requires that existing free speech zones be converted into monuments or memorials. 

"Free speech zones are counterintuitive to our core values, we should never falter in our defense of our constitutional rights or confine a free exchange of ideas," said Neville. "Students on Colorado campuses are growing into the leaders of tomorrow, and restricting their fundamental rights as they seek out truth and knowledge is contrary to the American spirit as well as the mission of universities."

Senate Bill 17-062 now moves on to a vote of the committee of the whole. 

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