These are all of the Civil Rights bills proposed in the 2020 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 or highlighted in yellow. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments; yellow highlights mean conference committee amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Mega, Major, Medium, Minor+, 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:

MEGA

HB20-1033 Live And Let Live Act KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1144 Parent's Bill Of Rights KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1272 Colorado Natural Marriage And Adoption Act KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1287 Colorado Rights Act KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

MAJOR

HB20-1048 Race Trait Hairstyle Anti-Discrimination Protect PASSED AMENDED
HB20-1063 Fundamental Family Rights In Colorado KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1114 Protect Minors From Mutilation And Sterilization KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1273 Equality And Fairness In Youth Sports Act KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

MEDIUM

HB20-1241 Issue Professional License Lawful United States Presence PASSED HOUSE SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
HB20-1307 Gay Panic Or Transgender Panic Defense PASSED HOUSE AMENDED

MINOR+

HB20-1088 U Visa Certification Requirements PASSED HOUSE AMENDED
HB20-1294 Replace Illegal Alien With Undocumented Immigrant PASSED HOUSE SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED

MINOR

TECHNICAL

Senate

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

MEGA

MAJOR

SB20-083 Prohibit Courthouse Civil Arrest PASSED AMENDED

MEDIUM

SB20-166 Simplifying Requirements For New Birth Certificate PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED

MINOR

TECHNICAL

HB20-1033 Live And Let Live Act [Humphrey (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow organizations and individuals to refuse services to LGBTQ individuals based on sincerely held religious beliefs regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Description:

  • Prohibits the state from taking any action against religious organizations or other non-corporate organizations that decline to participate several activities, including marriages, offering housing, adoption, and employment decisions, based on their sincerely held religious beliefs regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. These organizations may also establish sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming, or concerning restroom access or other intimate facility or setting access based on sincerely held religious beliefs regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. Licensure or any other state accreditation or certification that would be granted otherwise cannot be denied to someone at one of these organizations based on their sincerely held religious beliefs regarding sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Also prohibits the state from taking action against individuals who decline to participate in wedding associated services 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 state employees to opt out of marriage-related duties for same-sex couples or that involve a transgendered individual.
  • Provides legal relief for any successful claims, but claims must be made within two years of the action.

Additional Information:

Requires the secretary of state to ensure that any employees opting out of marriage related duties does not delay or impede any legally valid marriage from occurring.

Legal relief for successful cases includes declaratory relief, injunctive relief, compensatory damages for pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses, reasonable attorney fees, and any other appropriate relief.

Companies that can qualify are sole proprietorships, partnerships, trusts, closely held corporations, or other closely held entities or a co-operative, venture, or enterprise consisting of multiple such entities.


Auto-Repeal: None

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 changing your gender assigned at birth 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. It also helps the state keep faith-based charities and educational institutions serving essential services in the fold. All around the country religious organizations that handle adoption and foster care have been forced to close because of this issue and a religious educational institution in Massachusetts was threatened with loss of accreditation. 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 HB20-1033

HB20-1048 Race Trait Hairstyle Anti-Discrimination Protect (Fields (D) [Herod (D), Buckner (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Add protections for hairstyles typically associated with race into anti-discrimination laws.

Description:

Adds protection for hairstyles typically associated with race including hair texture, hair type, and protective styles such as braids, locks, and twists, into anti-discrimination laws for public education, employment, housing, public accommodations, and advertising.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

One of the things that is different among people of different racial background is hair. Unfortunately we have traditionally allowed the hair type of those of Caucasian descent to dominate what is considered “acceptable” and discriminated against hairstyles typically associated with minorities, especially black people. This has sadly been true of people of all ethnicities, resulting in societal-wide judgments of “good” hair and “bad” hair, with good hair being straight-textured and bad hair being afro-textured, to the point where small children can absorb this judgment. Schools have sent kids home with braids and dreadlocks or forced them to cut them off entirely at school sporting events. People have lost jobs or had to change their hair to match employee dress codes. This results in people having to choose between their natural hair and artificially altering it, whether through wigs, weaves, or chemicals. This can be extremely costly, damage hair and almost certainly damages self-esteem. It sends the message that one set of people are inferior to another and that is not the country we want to have. There is no federal protection either, federal courts have held that hairstyle is a choice and therefore companies can make decisions based upon it by banning certain styles. This is particularly true of protective styles such as dreadlocks. So states have to step into the void. California, New York, and New Jersey have already passed similar legislation. It is easily possible to meet standards of professionalism and neatness with naturally styled afro-textured hair, including hair with braids, locks, and twists. The problem is that those styles in and of themselves are seen by some people as “unprofessional” no matter what, which is just flat wrong and overt discrimination. We need to ensure that no one in Colorado faces this overt discrimination any longer.

Arguments Against:

The key here is the standards required in different environments. In some sports, we don’t want hair that is easily pulled by competitors. In some workplaces, a man with extremely long hair would have a hard time getting a job as would someone with multiple facial piercings or hair dyed a strange color. There is of course a line between something that is out of an individual’s control, like the texture of their hair, and something that is within their control: like the length of their hair or how well-kept it is. This bill moves that line too far in the direction of things that are within control. It is one thing to say that an individual should not have to change the fundamental nature of their hair, but it is another to say that an individual can do just about whatever they want with their hair. How are we going to decide if dreadlocks that are waist length are allowed because they are a traditional style or should be something an employer could disallow because the hair is too long? At what point is a traditional afro-textured hairstyle considered poorly kept and thus unprofessional? We have to leave room for some standards of personal grooming so that this does not turn into a free pass for anyone with afro-textured hair while those with straight-textured hair have standards they must meet.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1048

HB20-1063 Fundamental Family Rights In Colorado [Geitner (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Require government to prove compelling interest in restricting parental rights and use least restrictive methods necessary to achieve compelling interest.

Description:

States the liberty of a parent to exercise his or her parental rights is a fundamental right in Colorado. Requires the state to not place any burden on that right without demonstrating that it is necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest, is narrowly tailored and uses the least restrictive means to achieve the interest.

Additional Information:

Burden is defined as any action that directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails, denies, or compels any action by another person. Parental rights is defined as the right of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Parental rights are a cornerstone of American jurisprudence and have long been recognized as a fundamental right in this country. This right of course only extends to no harm being done to the child. Children in abusive homes would still be able to be taken away from their parents, so long as the state can prove this is the narrowest possible solution. But in non-abusive situations, when it comes to raising children, parents are better than government. Furthermore, there is evidence of racial bias when it comes to the removal of parent rights. Black and Latino parents have their rights taken away at a disproportionate rate compared to their percentage of the overall population and the government has admitted that this may be due, in part, to racial bias. So we need to err on the side of parental rights, not state interference, and force the state to prove that the solution it is proposing is the least restrictive way to achieve the desired result.

Arguments Against:

Note the bill exclusive speaks of compelling government interest as the burden that must be met. What is missing from this formula is the rights of the child. The right to live a life free from fear and free to be who you are not who your parents want you to be. This bill is extremely broad and contains no protections for children. In fact, a crushingly high burden of proof is placed on children, and the state, to prove they are being mistreated. In practice, this may have devastating impacts on LGBTQ youth by making it harder to remove them from non-affirming homes where they suffer abusive relationships with their parents that don’t rise to obvious levels of physical abuse. This can in turn lead to higher suicide rates. The overly broad definition could run into trouble in other areas as well, including educational curriculum in public schools (think sexual education or controversial books or topics) and other forms of health care including reproductive health. It is also important to point out that the judicial system always has the ultimate say here when it comes to removing children from the care of their parents, so no state employees are running amok yanking children away from their parents. Whatever racial inequities may exist in the current process, the remedy is to address them, not pull the rug out from underneath the entire system.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1063

HB20-1088 U Visa Certification Requirements [Gonzales-Gutierrez (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Require certification of U visas in a timely manner when the applicant meets federal standards for obtaining the visa.

Description:

Require certification of U visas, nonimmigrant visas for victims of crimes and their immediate family members who are victims of certain criminal activity inside the US which can lead to permanent lawful residence, by relevant agencies if the requestor meets the requirements for a U visa within 30 90 days of the request or 14 30 if the requestor is either in custody of federal immigration authorities or if the requestor would become ineligible by virtue of age within 30 90 days of the request.

Agencies are not allowed to consider anything other than the criteria for issuing the U visa the time period between the criminal activity and the request, the level of harm suffered, the status of the criminal investigation or prosecution, whether the alleged perpetrator was identified or charged, the victim’s own criminal history, or if the agency believes the victim merits U visa status. Agencies must inform applicants in writing if they deny the application, including a detailed explanation of the reason why. If denied applicants can supply additional information and can seek certification from multiple agencies. Agencies can only withdraw certification if the victim unreasonably refuses to provide assistance related to a reasonable request by the investigators or prosecutors. Agencies cannot disclose applicant's immigrant status except as required by federal law

Additional Information:

Sole criteria for issuing the certification are:

  • Was a victim or an immediate family member of one that qualifies for the visa
  • Has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to the detection, investigation, or prosecution of that criminal activity

If there is no documentation that the victim refused to help law enforcement there is a rebuttable presumption of helpfulness. Can have more than one eligible applicant for a single crime.

If the denial is for lack of helpfulness, then the written reason for denial must include documented instances of failure or refusal to comply with reasonable requests for cooperation sufficient to rebut the presumption of helpfulness.

Qualifying criminal activity includes:

  • Rape, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, incest, prostitution, sexual exploitation, or female genital mutilation
  • Torture, domestic violence, stalking, holding a person hostage, human trafficking, involuntary servitude, slavery, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, false imprisonment, or peonage
  • Perjury, blackmail, extortion, or fraud in foreign labor contracting
  • Manslaughter, murder, or felonious assault
  • Witness tampering or obstruction of justice
  • Any other similar criminal activity


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We created this federal law back in 2000 because we recognize multiple benefits from encouraging victims of crime to come forward and assist criminal investigations. First, and most obviously, it helps us catch criminals. Getting violent criminals off the streets is well worth the enticement of a visa that may lead to permanent status. Second, some people are brought to this country either against their will entirely or as slaves or indentured servants. It is not only not their fault in many cases that they are here illegally but stopping the people who brought them can prevent future occurrences. But the program only works if relevant agencies participate. If they instead are bringing their own personal judgments into the matter, including on the worthiness of the victim or the entire program, then this does not work. All the bill does is ensure that people who properly qualify for this program get the certifications they deserve. If someone does not qualify either because they were unhelpful or because they were in fact not the victim of a crime (including attempted hoaxes) then they don’t get the certificate. The one example of a hoax from last year is fairly unique and we do not throw out positive programs over such isolated incidents.

Arguments Against:

This program is limited to 10,000 visas issued per year and there is a significant backlog, over 64,000 as of 2016. Since there is no pressing need to push more people into a near endless line (and we have no control over the 10,000 visa limit, as that is federal law) there is no need to crack down on the discretion of Colorado law enforcement and prosecutors to decide for themselves what is truly helpful and what is not.


This program is flawed to begin with. It incentivizes people here illegally to find ways to qualify for the program and thus skip the immigration line. We saw a case of this last year in Seattle, when ten people allegedly staged an armed robbery in order to qualify “victims” for the visa. It also incentivizes people to come here illegally if they can do so in a criminal manner, such as indentured servitude or slavery. While we cannot of course change federal law we do not have to bend over backwards to make it work as well as it possibly can.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1088

HB20-1114 Protect Minors From Mutilation And Sterilization [Sandridge (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Ban any medical interventions done for the purpose of facilitating the sex reassignment of a minor.

Description:

Creates the crime of unlawful sex reassignment of a minor and makes it a class 3 felony (4-12 years in jail and fine between $3,000 and $750,000). Crime is defined as knowingly administering, dispensing, or prescribing a drug or hormone or ordering or performing a sexual reassignment surgery for the purpose of facilitating sex reassignment of a minor. Does not apply to care done to treat a physical disorder of sex development. Adds automatic unprofessional conduct onto medical license for anyone found guilty.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Sex reassignment is an enormous and lasting change. Even delaying puberty has ramifications, both socially and developmentally. In other words this sort of change needs to be deeply understood, with the all of the ramifications considered. It is something so important that we currently only allow it with parental consent because a minor may not be able to properly understand all of the ramifications. But parents are consenting to something they themselves cannot properly understand, because only the affected child knows and everyone, from the therapists to the doctors to the parents, must go on what the affected child says. It is the only evidence available. In this situation we cannot trust just the word of a minor and so the only solution is to wait. Sex reassignment surgery will still be available if the now adult still wants it. Any potential suicidal thoughts can be treated, much as we treat others in society more prone to suicide. As for the penalty, the only way to deter people from trying to skirt or ignore this law is a strong penalty.

Arguments Against:

This is an assault on transgender youth. Doctors would be forced to violate existing standards of care for transgender patients, which are approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Current best-practice for transgender youth simply delays puberty until they are old enough to make their own decision about their lived gender (which this bill would make illegal). Forcing them to wait until after puberty, when they are legally adults, makes the entire transition more expensive and more difficult. And more importantly it forces the youth to live a lie, it denies them the ability to live as the gender they know they are inside. And they know. This isn’t some phase or passing fancy. These kids know, deep in their very soul, that their sex is wrong. And therefore denying them medical care is not only wrong, it is dangerous. Transgender youth already have much higher suicide rates than the rest of the population and research has shown sharp drops in suicidal thoughts and attempts for transgender youth who are supported by their families and allowed to live as their true selves. Remember, current law requires a signature from a licensed therapist and parental consent for any of the treatment this bill bans. If this bill became law, the therapist, child, parent, and doctor could all want to follow best practices of the American Academy of Pediatrics and be unable to legally do so. Which will leave these children helpless and therefore more likely to attempt suicide.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1114

HB20-1144 Parent's Bill Of Rights [Pelton (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Create a parents bill of rights which prohibits inference with the rights of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of their minor child unless state can prove compelling interest to the contrary.

Description:

Unless it can prove a compelling interest applied to the child involved that is narrowly tailored and cannot be accomplished in a less restrictive manner, the bill prohibits the state from obstructing or interfering with the rights of parents to direct the upbringing, education and health care of their minor child. This includes religious training, access and review of all school and medical records, health care decision-making (except in emergencies), consent to various specified violations of the child’s privacy, and prompt notification if the state believes their child has been the victim of a criminal offense by someone other than the parent. Bans attempts to encourage or coerce a minor to withhold information from their parent unless by a police officer in a criminal investigation. Each school district must develop plans and policies to enforce these requirements, so that parents are involved in their children’s education and discipline, can object to learning materials on basis of sex, morality, or religion, and remove children from classes with those learning materials, opt-out of clubs, activities, and sex education.

Additional Information:

Specific privacy areas that require written parental consent include:

  • Biometric scan of the child is taken, shared, or stored
  • DNA taken, shared, or stored unless it is due to a court order
  • Any video or voice recording made by the state unless it is related to a legitimate academic or extracurricular activity, for security or surveillance of school grounds, or for a photo ID card

Detailed list of minimum areas school district policies must address includes:

  • Plan for parent participation designed to improve parent and teacher cooperation in areas like homework, attendance, and discipline
  • Procedures for parents to learn about course of study and all learning materials
  • Procedures for parents to withdraw their child from any activity or class or program that uses materials the parent objects to on sex, morality, or religious grounds
  • At least 15 days notice on how to opt-out of sex education classes if the school offers them
  • At least 15 days notice and opportunity for child to withdraw from any instruction or presentation regarding human sexuality in other classes
  • At least 15 days notice for parents to learn about nature and purpose of clubs and activities, including extracurricular ones and opportunity to withdraw from any of them
  • Procedures for parents to learn about their existing rights in state law, including opting out of sex education, school choice open enrollment rights, exemption from immunization laws, high school graduation requirements, access and view school records, participation in gifted and talented programs, attendance requirements, public review of textbooks and courses of study, participate in PTA associations, and their rights under this bill

Bill also allows parents to opt-out of any data collection instrument at the district level for the longitudinal student data system, except what is necessary and essential for establishing a student’s public school record.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Parental rights are a cornerstone of American jurisprudence and have long been recognized as a fundamental right in this country. We need to get back to understanding that parents make the best decisions for their children in most cases. This right of course only extends to no harm being done to the child. Children in abusive homes would still be able to be taken away from their parents, so long as the state can prove this is the narrowest possible solution. Medical professionals are already required to report suspected abuse and would continue to do so. Children needing emergency medical care would receive it. Children would continue to receive educations, but parents would be more involved in the process and retain the ultimate authority to teach the beliefs they want to their children, not a teacher’s beliefs or a government official’s beliefs. Requiring private schools and homeschooling as a solution puts an unfair burden on working parents who cannot afford these things. The bottom line is that so long as the child is not being harmed, a parent has the right to decide on medical care for their child. A parent has the right to decide on the moral and religious upbringing their child receives. A parent has the right to control the privacy of their child. We need to err on the side of parental rights, not state interference, and force the state to prove that the solution it is proposing is the least restrictive way to achieve the desired result.

Arguments Against:

Note the bill exclusive speaks of compelling government interest as the burden that must be met. What is missing from this formula is the rights of the child. The right to live a life free from fear, free to be who you are not who your parents want you to be, and free to learn essential knowledge in subjects such as science. This bill is extremely broad and contains no protections for children. The bill in effect gives parents veto power over school curriculum through a broad definition that allows parents to opt their children out from teaching that contradicts the parent’s beliefs in sex, morality, or religion. Scores of books, whole subjects in science, history, civics, and other areas could run afoul of this requirement. And so could any discipline applied by the school. If a parent believes deeply enough that our current curriculum is so flawed, home schooling or private school is an option. For issues like sex education, parents already have the ability to opt out. For health care, reproductive health and the right for people to control their own bodies could run afoul of this law. For child protection from abuse and neglect, a crushingly high burden of proof is placed on children, and the state, to prove they are being mistreated. In practice, this may have devastating impacts on LGBTQ youth by making it harder to remove them from non-affirming homes where they suffer abusive relationships with their parents that don’t rise to obvious levels of physical abuse. This can in turn lead to higher suicide rates. And, tying back in with health care, the requirement that parents approve any medical procedures or exams makes it more dangerous for abused children to get care. It also makes it harder for children to get more low-stakes care in schools, since consent is required for any physical examination. Finally, and perhaps least importantly, this bill’s broad and vague language is a recipe for lawsuits at multiple points in our society where kids interact with education, health care, and the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1144

HB20-1241 Issue Professional License Lawful United States Presence [Benavidez (D), Kipp (D)]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Prohibit the state from denying law licenses or teacher’s licenses to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival members (commonly known as the Dreamers).

Description:

Requires the state to issue a law license or a teacher’s license to an applicant who has met all of the other requirements and has a current and valid employment documentation issued by federal citizenship or immigration services, are lawfully present in the country, and have a social security card.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is about allowing the “Dreamers”, members of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) group, to work in these fields. Dreamers are people who were brought to this country as small children and have been granted protected federal status from deportation. These are kids who were brought here through no fault of their own, cannot have committed a significant crime, and are legally allowed to work in this country. Nationwide Dreamers pay about $4 billion in taxes. They are positive contributors to our society. In Colorado, 95% of dreamers are employed. And we have a severe teacher shortage in the state, where we are so desperate we keep coming with various stipend, loan forgiveness, and other such incentives. It is clear that the current population of the state of Colorado is not filling these roles. We absolutely should not turn away anyone eligible and willing to work in our schools away. A Dreamer who otherwise meets the requirements for a law license ought to be able to get one as well.

Arguments Against:

DACA should not exist in the first place, so we should use every available resource we have at the state level to combat it. Regardless of fault, the fact is that these people came into this country illegally, skipping the line ahead of people who are trying to do the right thing and follow our laws. They should be deported back to the country they came from and told to wait in line like everyone else. We obviously cannot do that as a state, it is a federal matter, but we do not have to make it easier for DACA recipients to take a job that may have been filled by someone who came to this country legally.


Regardless of how you feel about the DACA program it is very tenuous and everyone in it has temporary status which must be reviewed and renewed every two years. There is no path to citizenship. This is not a stable foundation upon which to bring folks into teaching positions in our schools or pass through our state bar.


Anyone who is here legally and has the right to work should be eligible for any license the state offers. This bill therefore doesn’t go far enough. If we truly care about free markets and competition, excluding someone because of they are in DACA makes no sense. Let the best rise to the top in all professions.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1241

HB20-1272 Colorado Natural Marriage And Adoption Act [Humphrey (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Ban same-sex marriage and ban allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.

Description:

Bans same-sex marriage and bans allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The constitution of this state says that only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized in this state. This law simply says we should follow our constitution. As for the Supreme Court, its composition has changed since the ruling allowing same-sex marriage and this bill could be used to bring the issue before the court again to see if there might be a different ruling now. If same-sex couples cannot marry, then we also should not allow them to adopt since their lack of legal marriage presents barriers for raising a child.

Arguments Against:

This law is unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court has final say over these matters (it has long since been decided in this country that states do not get to overrule the Supreme Court, even if they write things into their own constitutions) and has ruled that same-sex couples can marry and can adopt children. Just putting in the law that it doesn’t matter what courts say doesn’t work in our system of government. If you want to change this law, you need a constitutional amendment. The most important thing for a child is a stable and loving home, this far outweighs considerations of modeling on genders or any so-called traditional notions of family. The vast majority of research supports the conclusion that there is no difference between children raised by same-sex couples and those raised by a male-female couple when you control for other factors. This last phrase is important, because if you compare same-sex adoptive parents to biological parents you find the biological parent cohort is “better” but this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. When same-sex adoptive parents who stay together are compared with male-female adoptive parents who stay together, the research says there is no statistically significant difference. Love is love, and the idea that we would keep a child in foster care and deprive them of a loving family simply because of who the parents chose to love is not right. Of course children raised by their biological parents is option A, but that is not what this is about. As for marriage, this is pretty much another settled issued. Same-sex partnerships do not harm people in male-female couples. No one’s marriage is somehow worth less just because two men can get married or because two women can get married. The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with a person who is attracted to someone of the same sex. They are just living the life they were born to, the way they were created. The fact that they experience attraction differently does nothing to harm people who are attracted to the opposite sex.

HB20-1273 Equality And Fairness In Youth Sports Act [Sandridge (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Ban anyone who was born with male chromosomes from competing in women’s/girl’s sports in grades 6-12.

Description:

Prohibits anyone who was born with male chromosomes from competing in women’s/girl’s sports in grades 6-12. If anyone eligibility is disputed, the student may prove their gender by providing a signed statement from a physician attesting that their internal and external reproductive anatomy is female, that they levels of testosterone are those associated with females, and that their chromosomes are female.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Men are generally bigger and stronger than women. This is just biology, and it has a lot to do with testosterone (which is why steroids are favored by those of any gender for cheating in sports). So if you have a transgender women/girl who is still transitioning she may have an advantage over her peers because of her testosterone levels and because of her sheer size. The study done by Joanna Harper isn’t really a study, it’s only of 8 people. We need to ensure we have a level playing field for our girls and err on the side of caution until more research is done.

Arguments Against:

This is actually an unproven theory, as transitioning women/girls have to lower their levels of testosterone in order to transition. One of the problems with a lot of the current research in the subject is that it centers around elite athletes: it is not exactly a gotcha to say that someone who was an elite male athlete became an elite female athlete. We do have a study from Joanna Harper, who was a nationally ranked male distance runner and then became a nationally ranked female distance runner—but at basically the same ranking level. Her study, though small, did not find that athletes who transitioned did any better against their peers as women, though they did not do worse either (which is about what we would want). Other research has shown a stabilization of hormones after 12 months so that the transgender women are not any different than women born with female sexual characteristics. We of course have high-profile cases but there are also other cases of transgendered women just competing, not winning or dominating. So since sports can be an important aspect for the emotional health of transgendered people, the burden to prove this really falls on the other side. And they have not proven it yet. Let’s not forget what we are talking about here: middle school and high school sports. This is supposed to a fun activity for kids to get exercise and learn lessons about competition and perseverance. It is not professional or quasi-professional athletes competing for high-stakes. Even putting a 12 month stabilization requirement tells a child that they are different and they cannot be like other kids. This isn’t going to cost anyone a scholarship. But it may cause a girl going through one of the most difficult experiences anyone can face a lot of heartache and difficulties. That alone tells us where we need to go.


This bill goes too far but we should require a 12 month stabilization period, like the Olympics do and research has pinpointed as the point where hormone levels should have rebalanced.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1273

HB20-1287 Colorado Rights Act (Marble (R), Lee (D)) [Soper (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $3.1 million at full implementation

Goal: Allow civil lawsuits against people and public agencies for depriving someone, under the aegis of enforcing the law, of the rights, privileges, or immunities under the state constitution, regardless of any state immunity laws or qualified immunity, with a statute of limitations of two years.

Description:

Allows people to sue other people or public entities that use the law to deprive them of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the state constitution. Court may award legal fees to the defendant if the defendant wins and the court finds the suit frivolous. If the plaintiff wins they get reasonable attorney fees and legal or equitable relief. Bill also allows the attorney general to sue on behalf of people for the same reason. In this case, if the attorney general wins, the court must order the distribution of any award of damages to the injured party. Statutory immunity, qualified immunity and statutory limitations on damages, liability, or attorney fees do not qualify for lawsuits brought under this bill except for cases involving prisoners where legal limitations do apply. Employees of public entities are indemnified against damages unless they are convicted of a crime based upon the issue in dispute. Statute of limitations for action under this bill is two years.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is about basic fairness under our constitution. There are really three issues here, one is the qualified immunity that government officials receive in doing their jobs. This basically says that officials who violate the civil rights of individuals where the law was not previously settled are immune from consequences. The idea is that the officer may have been acting in good faith but just did not know that what they were doing violated someone's civil rights. Unfortunately this has now devolved into the absurd, where because the courts had only determined that you could not sic a police dog onto a suspect who had surrendered and was lying down, a case where a dog was set onto a suspect who surrendered and was sitting down was thrown out. Solely because of the difference between sitting/lying down. This is one of many examples that stretch across all government agencies and it makes accountability nearly impossible to come by. Remember that you still have to prove you actually had your rights violated, and agencies like the police are still protected by having to show shocking conduct in split-second decisions. Another is the extreme difficult prisoners have in suing and winning civil rights cases in federal court due to the federal Prison Litigation Reform Act. Lawsuits in this area have fallen by nearly 60% since the passage of the act and it is now extremely difficult, even in the face of open wrongdoing, to file suit and even then to win. This bill would allow prisoners to instead use the state courts. Finally this bill addresses harassment by state agencies. One of the elements that came out of the Masterpiece Cake decision by the US Supreme Court was that the state civil rights division has stepped out of its bounds in the case by ignoring any claim of religious liberty, which is also a guaranteed constitutional right. The problem is that there is no redress mechanism. The baker in that case won, but also lost because he has no way to make himself whole. The civil rights division can continue to act with relative impunity because they do not have to fear civil lawsuits coming back at them. But it is also important to note that this bill protects LGBTQ people as well. They too can bring civil lawsuits against anyone depriving them of their constitutional rights. As can the state attorney general. So this bill is not a one-sided attempt to tilt the scales in favor of religious rights, it is a way to give people whose rights have been violated a remedy in court to be made whole. It has a short statute of limitations. Federal law provides a similar avenue for redress, except of course for extremely important area of qualified immunity, this would allow for the same thing at the state level, where the lower expense of a lawsuit should act to help people more easily stand up for their rights. And it is important to note that rights under the Colorado constitution are more expansive than federal rights. Finally, if you bring a case and you lose, you are liable for the defendant's legal fees. That alone will do much to discourage frivolous lawsuits or attempts to prevent any state division or agency from conducting its work through endless lawsuits.

Arguments Against:

The total removal of qualified immunity goes way too far. Police officers rely on this in order to do their jobs. While there are examples of this policy gone wrong, there are also examples of how removing qualified immunity could go wrong too. The 4th amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure is quite vague and notoriously finicky. Officers can make good faith errors in search or other gray areas without realizing they are making an error. This is because we do not expect our governmental agents to be constitutional experts up on all of the latest case law. Many of the instances of failed accountability held up by opponents of qualified immunity should in fact be handled by the appropriate agency. Qualified immunity is for civil cases and the court system, but keeping a job is a different matter. This could also open up quite the Pandora’s Box of lawsuits. The fiscal note is estimating an increase of about $3 million in additional expenses for the state defending itself and a lot of these actually come from prisoner-related cases (the limitations there are not such that lawsuits would be precluded entirely). And it does not estimate at all the impact on potential settlements or lost cases on the fiscal well-being of government entities. But the more serious problem is the potential chilling effect on state agencies, including the police, which are charged with investigating claims. This includes the civil rights commission, which was at the center of the Masterpiece Cake controversy. Burying the division or any other division in lawsuits is a good way to keep it from functioning, even if many are later dismissed as frivolous.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1287

HB20-1294 Replace Illegal Alien With Undocumented Immigrant (Gonzales (D)) [Lontine (D)]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Replace “illegal alien” with “undocumented immigrant worker” as it relates to public contracts for services.

Description:

Replaces “illegal alien” with “undocumented immigrant worker” as it relates to public contracts for services.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The term illegal alien is deliberately dehumanizing in an attempt to see these people as something less than other people with dreams, desires, hopes, ambitions, loves, fears, triumphs and tragedies. In short, people just like the rest of us. When we dehumanize and paint people as “others” or “aliens” we pave the road toward treating as less than human. It is always the textbook beginning to exploiting a population or doing things far worse. And a person cannot be illegal. They can commit crimes. But they themselves are not illegal. So let’s instead call these people what they are: undocumented immigrant workers.

Arguments Against:

The phrase undocumented immigrant worker fall short of describing what is happening here. These aren’t people who forget to fill out a form. They are in fact in this country illegally and removing the word “illegal” from the phrase is another way to play with language. To make it seem like there is no crime being committed here. Changing the term to worker also removes the easy recognition that this is someone who was not born in this country.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1294

HB20-1307 Gay Panic Or Transgender Panic Defense (Tate (R), Bridges (D)) [Herod (D), Soper (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Ban so-called gay or transgender panic defenses and impugning credibility of victim or witness solely due to sexual or gender identity.

Description:

Bans the ability to claim the sexual orientation or transgender status of the victim provoked the defendant into committing the crime and therefore the defendant is not liable or is less liable for their actions. Bans the ability to use sexual orientation or transgender status of a witness or victim at trial unless it is proven to be relevant in a hearing (or if both side stipulate it is relevant). This requires a written motion at least 35 days prior to trial. Exception to the time requirement if new evidence emerges during trial. All documents related to this must be sealed unless the evidence is admitted at trial. If it is admitted at trial, the judge must instruct the jury not allow any bias to influence its decision. Courts may also issue protective orders relating to the disclosure of sexual or gender identity of a witness or victim. Exception to all of these evidence rules is if the defendant is being prosecuted for a hate crime. Then regular rules of evidence apply.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

These defenses may be used sparingly (and courts may have demonstrated zero tolerance for them) but it is still possible in Colorado to say that you attacked someone because you were afraid of their sexual or gender preference. It is also still possible to try to impugn a witness or victim’s credibility by attacking their sexual or gender preference. This is a hateful practice and we should follow the path of multiple other states in barring it completely. Note that the bill does leave room for the admission of relevant evidence related to sexual or gender identity so if it is truly a legitimate aspect of the case, the court can decide a jury can hear it. But you do not get to attack someone because they made a romantic pass at you. You do not get to attack someone because you discovered their gender preference. You do not get to attack someone simply for having a sexual or gender preference you disagree with. You do not get to claim someone is less reliable simply because of their sexual or gender preference. Even allowing these sorts of tactics appeal to irrational fear and hatred of these people, undermine the legitimacy of criminal prosecutions, and can result in unjustified acquittals or sentence reductions due to bias, fear, shock, or disgust rather than competent evidence. There should be no place for it in Colorado.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1307

SB20-083 Prohibit Courthouse Civil Arrest (Gonzales (D)) [Herod (D)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Ban civil arrests, commonly used by federal immigration enforcement agents, at state courthouses or while people are going to or coming from court.

Description:

Ban civil arrests, except when it is for a judge's contempt order or other judicially issued process, while a person is present at a courthouse or its environs or while going to, attending, or coming home for a court proceeding. Civil arrests are generally done to compel someone to appear in court, including by federal immigration agents, most notably Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Criminal arrests or execution of a criminal warrant is still allowed. On-duty law enforcement officers who are not contracted by the court for security or participating in a court proceeding must present their credentials and state the purpose of their presence to courthouse security, which is to keep a log of the information. If the purpose is to make an arrest, security must inform a judge or magistrate who must ensure the arrest complies with this law. Anyone who knowingly violates this law is subject to damages in a civil action for false imprisonment (which may be brought on by the state attorney general), and commits contempt of court. Anyone arrested or detained in violation of this law may seek a writ of habeas corpus.

Additional Information:

Court proceedings is defined as:

  • Accessing a service or conducting business with a court
  • A criminal proceeding, a civil, proceeding, a grand jury proceeding, or a civil protection proceeding
  • An arbitration
  • A deposition
  • A pretrial services appointment or a probation services appointment


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Access to the court system is a cornerstone of our democracy. Judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys simply cannot do their jobs and our justice system cannot function effectively if victims, defendants, witnesses, and family members do not feel secure in accessing the courthouse. And right now, those who fear detainment from ICE very much do not feel secure. In the last few years ICE has made it a standard operating procedure to arrest immigrants at courthouses, a civil arrest which this bill bans. They have walked the halls of courthouses, sat in courtrooms, questioned court attendees and staff, loitered around court buildings and arrested people appealing traffic tickets, arrested witnesses, arrested defendants, arrested people seeking a restraining order against an abusive partner, and many others. An extensive survey of 232 law enforcement professionals in 24 state, 103 judges and 5 court staff in 25 states, 50 prosecutors in 19 states and 389 survivor advocates and legal providers in all 50 states shows the damage done. 54% of judges reported court cases that were interrupted due to an immigrant crime survivor’s fear of coming to court. Prosecutors and police report crimes as being much more difficult to prosecute, for reasons beyond just the fear of a court appearance but it plays a role. Survivor advocates and legal providers report a sharp 40% decrease in cases filed for immigrant crime survivors from 2016 to 2017, with people staying in abusive and dangerous situations because they were too afraid to come to court. Here in Colorado, in 2017, the Denver city attorney had to drop the prosecution of several domestic violence cases because the victims were afraid to come to court. ICE has since revised some of its policies but loopholes remain. Multiple other states are taking steps to protect their courthouses. This bill does the same, closes these loopholes and ensures that justice can be served in Colorado, for the safety of all citizens.

Arguments Against:

Sanctuary policies like those in Colorado and like this bill proposes leave ICE with no choice but to increase enforcement in neighborhoods and workplaces and to try to locate and arrest people who are breaking federal law by being in this country illegally while they are at-large, increasing the likelihood that other individuals previously not targeted for arrest will be taken into ICE custody. A controlled space like a courthouse is safer for others than a residence, place of work, or other public area. And it also has long been decided that federal law trumps state law. As the federal government recently reminded one of the other states trying to stop ICE from doing its job, and the US attorney general has warned, ICE agents may ignore rules that try to prevent them for doing their as defined by federal law in courthouses. The state cannot refuse to participate in the immigration policies of the federal government because it does not like them. This would be just as true of a state trying to deport people against the wishes of the federal government. Moving further and further along this sanctuary path may also make Colorado a magnet for people who are in the country illegally, increasing the number of illegal residents in the state and potentially increasing the burden on social services agencies. We also use civil arrests for other purposes, such as failure to pay child support. The bill would remove that tool entirely, rather than focus on ICE cases. The bottom line is that there is legal path for entry in the United States and a long line of people waiting to come the right way. We should not let people skip the line and one of the only ways to do that is to actively enforce our immigration laws. Which means finding people who are here illegally and deporting them.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-083

SB20-166 Simplifying Requirements For New Birth Certificate (Moreno (D)) [Esgar (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Align requirements for changing gender on a birth certificate for minor with adults.

Description: Aligns requirements for changing gender on a birth certificate for minors with adults by removing requirement that the minor have undergone any treatment or have an intersex condition. Just requires a licensed health care professional to state the minor’s sex designation does not align with their gender identity (and parental/guardian permission).

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The requirement created last year for this was too onerous on minors, who had to prove they had already started treatment to get their sex and name changed on their birth certificate. There is no reason to require this, a birth certificate can be changed back if the concern is that a minor might decide not to undergo treatment and keep the sex they were assigned at birth. You also still need a statement from a licensed health care professional. For the kids involved, this is deeply personal and important. As for the concept in general, forcing people to keep their old birth certificate with the wrong sex designation and potentially wrong name unless a judge in a courtroom agrees (which forces a very public determination) just to placate others who don’t like transgendered people is wrong. The potential for fraud is extremely small.

Arguments Against:

This makes it too easy for a minor to change their sex designation. We should require some form of treatment first to ensure this is a lasting change.


This entire concept needs to be thrown out and returned to a judge’s decision. That ensures we have a check against potential fraud.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-166