These are all of the Civil Rights bills proposed in the 2019 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, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about 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.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. 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!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

Senate

Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:

MAJOR

MEDIUM

SB19-030: Remedying Improper Guilty Pleas

MINOR

HB19-1039 Identity Documents for Transgender Persons (Moreno) [Esgar]

Short Description:

Changes the process for changing gender on a birth certificate from a court mandate to a request from the individual (if the person is a minor, from their guardian or legal representative) and a statement from a professional medical or mental health care provider stating that the person has undergone a gender transition.

Long Description:

Currently a court order is required to change gender on a birth certificate, and the certificate is amended, no new one issued. This bill requires that the state registrar issue a new birth certificate rather than an amended one when they receive a written request from the person (if the person is a minor, from their guardian or legal representative) and a statement from a professional medical or mental health care provider stating that the person has undergone a gender transition. The registrar is barred from requesting any additional information or disclosing this information.

Arguments For:

Gender transition is a deeply personal path that many do not want to parade in courtrooms, especially since the ultimate decision is left in the hands of a judge, who may or may not be prejudiced. There is nothing more than a professional’s opinion needed for this process. An amended certificate is also an advertisement for the world to see that the transition has occurred. The potential for fraud is laughably small and the potential for good wonderfully large.

Arguments Against:

This bill removes the judicial system from the process of changing a birth certificate, which opens it up to abuse from those who want to obscure their identity.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1039
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HB19-1042 Extend Court Jurisdiction for Vulnerable Youth [Gonzales-Gutierrez]

Short Description:

Has the Colorado court system to give vulnerable youth immigrants who are unlawfully present in the United States access to the federal Special Immigrant Juvenile status.

Long Description:

Has the Colorado court system to give vulnerable youth immigrants access to the federal Special Immigrant Juvenile status. This status can apply to unmarried immigrants under the age of 21 that a court deems is residing with and dependent on a caregiver and reunification with one or both parents in not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar basis and it is not in the interests of the minor to be returned to their or their parents’ previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence. A state court order to these facts is a requirement for application to the federal government for this status which can lead to a green card.

Arguments For:

Is it a longstanding principle of this nation to treat children well, even those that arrive here illegally, frequently through no fault of their own. That is what this program was created for back in the 1990s, so that we would not be sending children back into dangerous situations either with their parents or in their former nation. But it requires a juvenile state court order and this bill ensures that our courts will comply when it is warranted. The Trump administration has recently sought to undermine applicants from other states who were between 18 and 21 years-old, so this law may also be necessary to protect Coloradans in that age bracket. This quite literally can save lives and the wealthiest and strongest nation on Earth can afford to shelter a few thousand children.

Arguments Against:

Use of this status has exploded in recent years and it has now become a loophole for illegal entrants into this country to exploit, as children are sent to this country unaccompanied with this specific law in mind. Colorado should not participate in encouraging more illegal immigrants to enter the United States.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1042
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HB19-1081 Respondent Rights Discrimination Complaints [Williams]

Short Description:

Gives a respondent to a complaint instigated by the state’s civil rights division the right to request representation by a public defender, regardless of indigent status, at any point in the administrative process and to request to move the matter to a court of competent jurisdiction if they assert that the alleged discriminatory conduct was engaged in on the basis of first amendment rights. Also requires the commission to pay all of the respondent’s attorney fees and costs and lost business income if the respondent wins. Retroactive to December 1, 2013.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This is about due process. It is a constitutional right that should be afforded to both the complainants and respondents in cases of alleged discrimination. Current law opens respondents up to harassment through continued complaints without an ability to switch jurisdictions or get their money back from failed attempts to destroy their businesses. This bill fixes this problem by providing busy business owners the ability to get proper representation, to get the correct jurisdiction, and most importantly, to get money lost in the process back if they win. The state should not be able to serially harass anyone out of business without a victory in court.

Arguments Against:

This bill is called the Justice for Jack act and it could not be plainer what the intent is: to stop the civil rights division from pursuing cases of discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. First, the idea that a first amendment defense is privileged over any other defense runs counter to our principles of jurisprudence. But the 1st amendment is the cornerstone of any case against LGBTQ individuals, because the respondent is saying that their right to freedom of religion trumps the right of an LGBTQ individual to not be discriminated against. Second, the right to a public defender rests on the concept of a proceeding in a court of law and indigence. But this process isn’t inside a courtroom and allowing respondents (even the name is a dead-giveaway, respondents, not defendants) to tie up public legal resources has a chilling effect. And of course the final nail is the threat of lost business income, in addition to legal fees, as a deterrent to pursuing cases at all, retroactive to 2013 to allow Jack Phillips to sue the state. The bottom line is that LGBTQ individuals in our society deserve civil rights protection. This bill disagrees and attempts to undermine the civil rights division.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1081

SB19-030 Remedying Improper Guilty Pleas (Gonzales)

Short Description:

Some criminal defendants, when they entered a guilty plea in connection with a deferred judgment, were not advised that there may be additional penalties, in particular with their immigration status, even if the plea is later withdrawn and the case dismissed. This bill allows these people to petition the court to vacate the guilty plea.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This option is attractive for defendants because if they follow the terms of the agreement their plea will be vacated and never placed on their criminal record, so some people who are innocent will still plead guilty to avoid a trial and possible greater penalties. But some defendants are not getting the entire story and finding that this route will still endanger their immigration status, too late to do anything about it. Therefore in cases where the defendant did not know about the adverse effects it is clear that they were not entered an informed plea of guilty and the court should vacate it.

Arguments Against:

Attractive or not, someone should not be pleading guilty if they did not commit a crime and the concern here about immigration status would only apply to an innocent person who pled guilty anyway, which we can’t legislate around. Instead what this bill does is give immigrants a way out of punishment for breaking their commitment to this country by entering one of these agreements and having it not affect their status.

This entire program of getting someone to plead guilty in exchange for good behavior for awhile and then throwing away the verdict should not exist. If prosecutors believe someone committed a crime, go through the regular legal channels, no short cuts to avoid doing more work.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-030
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