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.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

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.

House

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

MAJOR

HB19-1039: Identity Documents for Transgender Persons PASSED HOUSE
HB19-1081: Respondent Rights Discrimination Complaints KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1129: Prohibit Conversion Therapy for a Minor PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB19-1140: Live and Let Live Act KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

MEDIUM

MINOR

HB19-1042: Extend Court Jurisdiction for Vulnerable Youth PASSED
HB19-1111: Training Requirement for Colorado Civil Rights Commission KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1184: Demographic Notes for Certain Legislative Bills PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED

Senate

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

MAJOR

MEDIUM

SB19-030: Remedying Improper Guilty Pleas PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED
SB19-135: State Procurement Disparity Study PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED

MINOR

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

AMENDED: Technical

PASSED HOUSE

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
vote

HB19-1042 Extend Court Jurisdiction for Vulnerable Youth [Gonzales-Gutierrez]

AMENDED: Technical

PASSED

Short Description:

Has the Colorado court system 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 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
vote

HB19-1081 Respondent Rights Discrimination Complaints [Williams]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

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

HB19-1111 Training Requirement for Colorado Civil Rights Commission [Baisley]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Requires annual training for members of the state’s civil rights commission for the need for religious neutrality when considering claims that involve freedom of religion under the first amendment.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

The Supreme Court just severely reprimanded the state’s civil rights commission and embarrassed Colorado on the national stage for failing the treat 1st amendment religious rights seriously. The Court held that some of the commissioners at the formal public hearings disparaged Jack Phillip’s faith and characterized it as merely rhetorical. This was a bipartisan smack down with so-called liberal justices Kagan and Breyer joining a concurrence of the majority’s ruling. Clearly training is required.

Arguments Against:

This is another attempt to swipe at the state’s civil rights commission, which obviously erred but the idea that they didn’t learn their lesson from what happened at the Supreme Court is foolish. They clearly now understand the neutrality with which they must approach these cases. Dragging this up every year is not only a waste of everyone’s time, it is just an excuse to bring this story out in open again so as to again attack the civil rights commission.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1111

HB19-1129 Prohibit Conversion Therapy for a Minor (Fenberg) [Michaelson Jenet, Esgar]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Prohibits a licensed physician specializing in psychiatry or a licensed, certified, or registered mental health provider from engaging in conversion therapy (effort to change sexual orientation) with a minor.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Conversion therapy does not work. Every major medical and mental health organization in the United States has issued a statement condemning the use of conversion therapy. According to a study done by San Francisco State University, LGBTQ teens who are rejected by their parents or caregivers are 8 times more likely than LGBTQ teens who are accepted to attempt suicide, 6 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3 times more likely to abuse drugs, and 3 times more likely to contact STDs.

Arguments Against:

This gets in-between parents and their children. It is for parents to decide what kind of approved medical treatments their children receive, not the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1129

HB19-1140 Live and Let Live Act (Marble) [Humphrey]

*Sent to House State Affairs kill committee*

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Prohibits the state from taking any action against religious organizations that decline to participate in a long series of activities, from marriage to housing to adoption to hiring/firing, based on their sincerely held religious beliefs against homosexuality and against transgender individuals. Also prohibits the state from taking action against individuals who decline to participate in wedding associated services or mental health treatment for the same reason. Prohibits state from taking action against state employees from expressing their opposition to same-sex marriage or transgendered individuals in the workplace and allows employees to opt out of marriage-related duties for same-sex couples or that involve a transgendered individual.

Long Description:

Prohibits the state from taking any action against religious organizations that decline to participate in any activity that involves same-sex marriage or transgendered individuals, that decide to not hire or fire people based on same-sex marriage or transgendered, that decide not to offer housing to people based on sexual orientation or transgendered, that decide not to allow adoption based on same-sex marriage or transgendered. Prohibits state from taking action against individuals who decline to participate in treatment or counseling of transgendered, who decline to participate in wedding associated services for same-sex marriages or transgendered, who make sex-specific standards for dressing or grooming. Prohibits state from taking action against state employees who express their opposition to same sex marriage or transgendered in the workplace. Allows state employees who deal with marriages to opt-out of licensing or performing them for same-sex or transgendered.


Arguments For:

The state should accept and accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs under the 1st amendment. We make exceptions for Quakers and other pacifists for military service, for Sabbath observers to practice their faith. Those who have sincere religious beliefs that same-sex marriage and transgender are wrong should not be forced to violate their beliefs. The people who need the services for a wedding or want to work in an environment that accepts their sexual identity can do so somewhere else. This doesn’t prohibit same-sex marriages or transgendered individuals, it just allows people who do not approve the right to their own views on the matter. Live and let live.

Arguments Against:

Discrimination is discrimination, it doesn’t matter what it is hiding behind. You cannot have a sincerely held belief that violates the civil rights of another person. The LGBTQ community didn’t choose their sexual identity any more than a black, brown, or white person chose their skin color. We do not accept discrimination in this country based on ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. So, just as we would not accept a baker or a church refusing to serve black people based on personal beliefs, we cannot accept them refusing to serve gay or transgendered people. And the idea that we should allow people to be hired or fired or denied housing based on their sexual orientation is a dark place this country has left behind. As for state employees, there is no “right” to work for the state. One of the requirements for being a state employee is not discriminating against LGBTQ individuals. If someone cannot handle giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, then they need to find another job where they don’t have to.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1140

HB19-1184 Demographic Notes for Certain Legislative Bills [Herod, Caraveo]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Goal: To have more information on the impact of some bills on various disadvantaged populations in the state.

Short Description:

Each leader of the legislative chambers (majority and minority) gets up to 5 bills a year for which he or she can request a demographic note on the impact of the bill on a particular population. More can be done at the discretion of the director of research of the legislative council (the body that creates the fiscal note for each bill). The legislative council staff must meet with the leadership and bill sponsor to discuss the feasibility of the request.

Long Description:

Each leader of the legislative chambers (majority and minority) gets up to 5 bills a year for which he or she can request a demographic note on the impact of the bill on a particular population. More can be done at the discretion of the director of research of the legislative council (the body that creates the fiscal note for each bill). The legislative council staff must meet with the leadership and bill sponsor to discuss the feasibility of the request.


Arguments For:

The fiscal notes that accompany each bill are a vital piece of the information all legislators use when deciding how to vote. But in some cases some information is missing. There are numerous bills that come through the state legislature each term that contain within their words enormous impact for communities in the state that frequently do not have the resources to make their voices heard. This bill will allow for a limited number of chances to direct the legislative council to investigate exactly what those impacts will be.

Arguments Against:

The council staff is already worked to the bone to get out fiscal notes for the hundreds of bills introduced each year and does not extra work so politicians can score political points with identity politics. It is also unclear as to who decides if a demographic note is feasible or not: the council or the legislator.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1184

SB19-030 Remedying Improper Guilty Pleas (Gonzales)

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

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:

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. The claimant must show to a preponderance of the evidence that they were not advised a guilty plea would have an adverse affect on their immigration status or some other constitutional violation.


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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SB19-135 State Procurement Disparity Study (Williams, Rodriguez) [Buckner, Buentello]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Requires the state to undertake a study of its procurement process to look for a disparity of participation of historically underutilized businesses (at least 51% minority owned and managed). The report is to be distributed to the general assembly and made publicly available online. Going forward, the state is to develop a system to track the number and percentage of all contracts entered into that with historically underutilized businesses.

Long Description:

Requires the state to undertake a study of its procurement process to look for a disparity of participation of historically underutilized businesses (at least 51% minority owned and managed). The state is to look for a mismatch between the number of qualified historically underutilized businesses in a field and the number actually engaged by state contract from 2014 to 2018. The report should also look for what changes, if any, should be made to state policies. The report is to be distributed to the general assembly and made publicly available online. Going forward, the state is to develop a system to track the number and percentage of all contracts entered into that with historically underutilized businesses.


Arguments For:

A fair procurement process not only ensures justice in our society but also broadens the contractor pool, which promotes efficiency, and promotes jobs in these underutilized businesses, growing our economy. There has never been a comprehensive study of state contracts for this purpose, and the Supreme Court has recognized that this sort of disparity analysis is a valid tool to seek to qualify and quantify past discrimination. That is what this study will set out to do, and the instructions include that any racially or prejudiced based differences must be statistically valid. Anecdotal data is not enough. Furthermore, if we want to track something we need to measure it, and that is what this bill has the state do going forward.

Arguments Against:

This bill is looking for a problem to fix. Yes statistical validity is required, but that is not defined so we do not have a threshold of significance. We don’t do affirmative action in our procurement process, we award projects to the best bid regardless of background because to do otherwise might cost the state money. And if a company feels like it had the best bid but wasn’t chosen because of race, they have legal avenues to pursue.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-135