These are all of the Elections and Government bills proposed in the 2018 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, pros, and cons are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium and Minor. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!).

HB18-1033: Employee Leave To Participate in Elections

Current law allows an employee to take leave to vote on election day itself. This bill expands that leave to voting on any day polls are open for most elections, and for registering to vote or obtaining any documents required to register. An employer can deny the leave if the employee has three consecutive hours in which they are not scheduled to work during the hours they are entitled to take leave.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

Citizenship and voting is the most sacred part of participation in our democracy and we need to do everything possible to allow citizens to participate in the system we have (election day on a work day, early voting). This bill prevents any abuse by employees and helps expand participation in our democracy.

Cons

This bill is an unnecessary burden for employers, who may find themselves forced to give hours of leave for tasks an employee should be able to better organize themselves. In addition, as a mall ballot state, employees are free to vote whenever they’d like on their own time through the mail.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1033

HB18-1039: Change Date of Regular Special District Elections

Moves regular special district elections from Tuesday immediately after first Monday in May in even numbered years to the same day in odd-numbered years.

SIGNED

Pros

Even numbered years are extremely busy elections in Colorado, even in non-presidential years we have the governor’s race, possible senate race, congressional races, and state legislature races. This moves these special district elections into an easier slot for the state clerks. In addition, these types of elections are always at the bottom of the ballot, which makes it more likely they get skipped altogether.

Cons

We have much higher participation in elections in even numbered years. Moving these elections away from them will likely result in lower turnout.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1039

HB18-1047: Fair Campaign Practices Act Technical Changes

Modified the fair campaign practices act by removing requirement that any person who donates more than $1,000 dollars, and the requirement for the secretary of state to forward to the department of revenue a summary of donation reports (there are other donation reports required) and removes the requirement entirely before primaries, in off-election years, and for school board candidates in off-election years. Also removes some paper-filing provisions that are rendered obsolete.

SIGNED

Pros

This removes some superfluous reporting requirements (double-reporting), modernizes some others, and removes burdensome requirements from times nowhere near a general election.

Cons

This bill is an assault on our efforts to keep money out of politics. Bad enough to remove some hard-won reporting requirements, but removing the requirements about reporting all the time is a back door into letting special interests and the wealthy pump money into our system while no one is looking.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1047

HB18-1087: Colorado Department of Public Safety Authority to Repeal Rules

Gives department authority to repeal rules for the repealed victims compensation and assistance coordinating committee and victims assistance and law enforcement advisory board.

SIGNED

Pros

Boards that don’t exist don’t need rules to operate.

Cons

If we ever want to resurrect these boards, we’d have to re-do the rules. They aren’t hurting anyone.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1087

HB18-1140: Public Official Personal Surety Bonds

Many elected and public officials are required to post a personal surety bond as a protection for the public against any potential harm caused to citizens. This bill removes some obsolete surety bond language and adds the ability for the public institution the individual will serve in to purchase crime insurance instead of the individual posting the bond.

SIGNED

Pros

Allowing a public entity to purchase crime insurance as a substitute for a public official personal surety bond will better protect the public entity and its constituents as many of the bonds public officials get now have inconsistent provisions, which means they don’t cover the same things.

Cons

Surety bonds were designed for this exact purpose and are widely used across the country. Crime insurance is a different thing, at the moment, and shouldn’t be used for this purpose.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1140

HB18-1152: Judicial Administrative and Budget Records Subject to Colorado Open Records Act

Makes the administrative and budget records of the judicial department subject to the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA)

*This bill has been assigned to the House’s “kill” committee, state affairs*

AMENDED TO ONLY APPLY TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT RECORDS

SIGNED

Pros

While CORA partially applies to these records, it does not apply to internal investigative files after an investigation is complete. All other state employees’ files are open after an investigation is complete, the judiciary only gives the outcome of the investigation. A staff member in the legislative branch should not be subject to different rules than a staff member in the judiciary.

Cons

The state constitution give the state Supreme Court the authority to make rules and regulations for the judiciary. The court partially made CORA applicable in 2015. Change needs to come from there or to the constitution itself. A Supreme Court justice testified along these lines last year for a similar bill.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1152

HB18-1181: Nonresident Electors and Special Districts

Expands definition of voter in special district elections to anyone who owns property in the special district but is not a resident of the state. The special district is solely responsible for maintaining the list of non-state residents eligible under this bill, which the bill also sets up a registration process for. It also allows special districts to add non-state residents to their boards as additional members, with restrictions on the number of additional non-state resident board members based on the size of the board.

VETOED

Pros

People who own property in a special district are certainly interested in the running of the district and ought to have a say in its elections. They may not live or work in the district themselves, but their interests surely do and if they are not involved, special districts risk alienating extremely important members of their district.

Cons

Non-state residents shouldn’t have a say in Colorado affairs. Absentee property owners should not be given preferential treatment in this manner and certainly should not be allowed to on boards of these special districts. If they want more of a say, become a resident of the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1181

HB18-1213: Declare Party Affiliation School District Director

Permits school district director candidates to declare their political party affiliation on the ballot.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

This helps candidates and voters, who want to know what the basic government principles are of the individuals they are considering.

Cons

This position is supposed to be non-partisan. This change makes it more likely voters will not even research the candidates and just check off their party preference.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1213

HB18-1231: Repeal Columbus Day as State Legal Holiday

Repeals Columbus Day as one of the 10 state holidays and replaces it with election day.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Columbus never set foot in what is now the United States and furthermore orchestrated brutal acts of slavery, murder and annihilated the native Taino people on the island known now as Hispanola. Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Vermont have all already taken this step. The benefits to having election day be a holiday instead are enormous. Participation in our democracy is the most sacred aspect to being an American, yet most of us have to work on the day we are supposed to vote. The result is long lines before and after work or missed time and productivity at work.

Cons

Colorado is a mail ballot state and thus the in-person issues of lines do not apply here. Columbus Day celebrates more than just Columbus himself, it is a celebration of pilgrims going to a new world to be free of religious or state persecution. No one behaved perfectly, there is no dispute about that. But Columbus sailing to America is part of why most of are here today and deserves to continue to be celebrated.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1231

HB18-1318: Require Presidential Candidate Disclose Tax Return

Would require any candidate for President or Vice President of the United States to disclose their last five years of federal income tax returns in order to appear on the ballot.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

This long-standing tradition has unfortunately been upended and we now need a law to force candidates to disclose their tax returns. Since the federal government does not seem interested, the state needs to step in.

Cons

This may be unconstitutional, there is some disagreement about that among scholars. It also opens a can of worms, what other things might states decide to “require” for a candidate to appear on their ballot? Ultimately, this is a federal election issue and needs a federal solution, if any.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1318

HB18-1394: Update Colorado Disaster Emergency Act

Updates the disaster act to include definitions for response and recovery stages, as well as emergency, resiliency, and mitigation. It also creates a resiliency office in state government to develop a resiliency and community recovery program for the state that addresses coordination among state and local agencies and risk and vulnerability reduction. Local and interjurisdictional disaster agencies are renamed emergency management agencies and required to develop plans that include preparation, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery from emergencies and disasters.

SIGNED

Pros

The current system is a little too loose when it comes to the before and after of a disaster and this bills cleans that up in addition to putting more emphasis on non-state agencies being more active in their planning when it comes to mitigation and recovery.

Cons

Local jurisdictions should be left more latitude in crafting their plans and creating another state office, dedicated to resiliency, could add to any overall confusion rather than help alleviate it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1394

HB18-1403: Stand By Your Ad Act

Currently any major independent expenditure that is broadcasted, printed, mailed or delivered must be accompanied by a disclaimer. This bill adds online channels to the delivery methods. Also, currently any issue committee that spends more than $1,000 must disclose their name in all of the same delivery methods. The bill again adds online channels and also expands the disclosure requirement to anyone spending more than $1,000 on a political advertisement.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

First, this is modernizing the act to keep up with our digital times, as it was clearly intended by the original scope to include any form of political advertisement. We can make reasonable rules that will allow anyone interested to find out the information required on a small web ad. Second, candidates, political action committees, and the like, should be held to the same rules as issue campaigns.

Cons

The web is not like other forms of advertising in that your allowed space is usually tiny compared to other forms of advertising and this bill will force some of that space to be used to fulfill the obligations of the law. Political candidates and the like already have their own separate rules regarding ads, which is why you always see “paid for by so and so” or “I’m so and so and I approve this message”.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1403

SB18-043: Senate State Office Nominee Rejection Effects

Prevents the governor from nominating someone for the exact same office after rejection by the Senate. Also prohibits the governor from appointing the individual temporarily to the office if the Senate is not in session, or keeping the individual in office if their reappointment has been rejected by the Senate. A rejected nominee is allowed to be submitted for the same office after another individual has filled the immediate opening.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Preserves the Senate’s constitutional rights to advise and consent on nominees. Without this law, the governor has multiple loopholes to put rejected nominees in the very office the Senate does not want them in.

Cons

This can tie the hand of the governor and the government from functioning properly. If the Senate decides it doesn’t want an office filled at all, because of hostility to the department, it can keep rejecting nominees and the governor cannot fill the position with any of them temporarily to keep things running. Traditionally in Colorado the Senate also give the Governor wide deference in filling Senate-approved posts. This is a step toward the state of affairs in Washington.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-043

SB18-066: Extend Operation Of State Lottery Division

Permanently extends the state lottery division (was set to expire in 2024).

SIGNED

Pros

The state lottery has provided over $3 billion since 1983 for Colorado’s wilderness and creating trails, parks, pools, and recreation. The lottery helps fund the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust ($64.4 million last year), the Conservation Trust ($53.3 million last year), Colorado parks and wildlife ($13.3 million last year), and the department of education ($2.2 million last year). It’s a wonderful mechanism for our citizens to have some fun and fund our environment and schools.

Cons

Lotteries are gambling, this is state-sanctioned gambling (that is entirely luck based) that affects the poorest in the community the most (the people who are most likely to play the lottery). As such it is highly regressive fiscal policy. Fund these worthy initiatives with money from those who can afford it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-066

SB18-075: Campaign Contribution Limits School District Director

Current campaign finance law sets no limits on contributions for school district director. This bill fixes that by setting aggregate limits from people other than small donor committees at $500 and small donor committees at $5,000, as well as adding enforcement and disclosure measures.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

School district director is an extremely powerful position from which an individual is well-placed to greatly impact what and how our children learn. It needs to be under the same campaign finance umbrella as school board elections.

Cons

This represents a chilling effect on free speech, by limiting the amount that any person can back a candidate of their choosing. It’s also not necessary in an office like this, what sort of dark money are people afraid of here?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-075

SB18-076: Ban Vote Trading

Makes it a misdemeanor criminal offense for a person to trade a vote or offer to trade a vote with another elector in this state or a person in another state in exchange for the other person’s vote for or against a particular candidate or ballot issue.

SIGNED

Pros

The Internet has made vote trading, particularly in presidential elections, more popular, where people in so-called “safe” states trade their vote with someone in a so-called “swing” state so as to keep the two-party vote in a swing state higher and let a “wasted” vote for a non-two party candidate (like a Libertarian or Green party candidate) occur in a safe state. There was even an app for this in the last presidential cycle. This bill cracks down on this undemocratic behavior.

Cons

People have preferences beyond Republicans and Democrats and may prefer any other individual than a Republican or a Democrat. Because we do not have a national popular vote but do have the Electoral College, this sort of trading is the only way to truly have a preference scale. There has been no suggestion that vote trading occurs beyond the Presidential level. Making this a crime also implies devoting resources to tracking down perpetrators, which would be a waste of law enforcement resources.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-076

SB18-150: Voter Registration Individuals Criminal Justice System

Allows a person on parole to preregister to vote, when they are released from parole their registration becomes automatic. Also requires the parole division to inform all parolees of their right to preregister, and upon completion of parole, information on how to register.

SIGNED

Pros

Reintegration into society includes our right as citizens to vote. It is a critical part of the path from criminal to functioning citizen and the state should make sure that everyone who has served their debt to society is given every chance to vote.

Cons

Voting should not be made too easy, we only want people who have thought things through and really want to vote to do so, therefore pushing ex-cons into registering to vote is not an activity the state should be participating in. This will also cost the state some money, to manage the preregistration and create the paperwork it would give those released from parole.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-150

SB18-242: Public Official Oath of Office

If choosing to swear an oath for public office, must do so by the everliving God, otherwise must say "affirm". In either case must do so with a raised hand.

SIGNED

Pros

The oath is a sacred vow to uphold the office the citizens of this state are entrusting to the swearer. We should make sure they are swearing by the highest authority.

Cons

Vows should be sworn in a way that the swearer believes. Whatever version of god or gods they would like to swear by should be acceptable.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-242