Highlights of the Week
This week Representative Cathy Kipp, a Democrat from Fort Collins, was appointed to House Education Committee, replacing Representative Julie McCluskie who now sits on the Joint Budget Committee. Representative Kipp served on the Poudre School District Board of Education from 2011-2017 and was appointed to the state legislature in 2018.
SB20-093, Consumer And Employee Dispute Resolution Fairness, which proposes changes to arbitration procedures, was laid over daily this week. The bill’s sponsors, Senator Fenberg and Senator Foote continue to work with opponents on a compromise. SB20-093 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 3rd and Second Reading a few days later, but has stalled on the final vote in the chamber.
HB20-1022, Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force passed unanimously out of the House Appropriations Committee on Friday and then passed the House on Second Reading. In the House HB20-1022 is sponsored by Representative Kraft-Tharp and Representative Van Winkle. The bill extends the Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force to 2025, modifies the charge of the Task Force, and removes a requirement that the Task Force undergo a sunset review from the Department of Regulatory Agencies. The Task Force would be charged with monitoring the rollout of the electronic sales and use tax filing system and GIS system, as well as with reviewing the changes made to the vendor fee.
HB20-1089, sponsored by Representative Jovan Melton, would have prohibited employers from firing an employee for engaging in off duty activities that are legal in Colorado, even if they are not legal federally—the key example of this being marijuana. In Colorado there is a legal and regulated marijuana industry, but the possession and sale of marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. HB20-1089 failed in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on Wednesday by a unanimous vote against the bill. Representative Melton explained that a court case found that the section of state statute that prohibits employers from terminating an employee from doing something that is legal while the employee is off duty was ambiguous because it does not stipulate whether that applies to state law or federal law. Proponents of the bill argued that the presence of marijuana in a drug test does not necessarily mean the individual is impaired. Chambers of commerce, members of the construction industry, and business advocacy groups came out opposed to the bill. Main concerns raised by opponents during testimony included the effect the bill would have on the safety of employees on the job site, especially for industries that already have safety concerns that come with the job duties.
This week a bill to repeal the death penalty moved another step closer to Governor Polis’s desk. SB20-100, Repeal the Death Penalty, passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 6-3 vote and is headed to the full House of Representatives. Victims, lawyers, and district attorneys gathered for the hearing on SB20-100. Opponents of the bill argued that the death penalty is necessary for a further punishment for prisoners sentenced to life without parole when they commit murder in prison and that it provides leverage in particularly heinous murder cases. Supporters of repealing the death penalty bring up the costs, both emotionally for families of victims and in the legal system, that the process of seeking the death penalty incurs. The bill is on the calendar for second reading in the House on Monday and a lengthy debate is expected.
SB20-167 Electric Motor Vehicle Manufacturer And Dealer, proposes to allow a manufacturer of electric vehicles to sell an electric vehicle directly to a consumer. The bill passed the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee on a 3-2 vote on Tuesday and then passed Second Reading in the Senate on Friday by a narrow margin (a recorded vote that would have killed the bill failed by a vote of 15-18). A similar bill failed in the House last session, but it differed slightly in that it only applied to manufacturers who make solely electric vehicles. SB20-167 applies to all car manufacturers, though it does not supersede existing franchise agreements. The Colorado Energy Office, manufacturers Rivian and Tesla, and environment groups are working in support of the legislation, while the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association opposes the bill.
Looking ahead, there are several bills expected this session that haven’t been introduced, including a paid family and medical leave bill. A draft bill was provided to stakeholders this week and the bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate next week. Significant legislation on privacy issues is also expected in the coming weeks.
Bills of the Week