These are all of the telecommunications and IT 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

MAJOR

MEDIUM

HB20-1293 Emergency Telephone Service Charges PASSED AMENDED

MINOR+

MINOR

HB20-1137 Broadband Grant Certification Of Unserved Area Requirement PASSED SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED

TECHNICAL

HB20-1137 Broadband Grant Certification Of Unserved Area Requirement (Donovan (D)) [McCluskie (D), Soper (R)]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Create a certification process for local areas to prove they are underserved when requesting high-cost support mechanisms from the broadband deployment board and require board to give this certification substantial weight.

Description:

Creates a process for applicants to the broadband deployment board for high-cost support mechanisms to prove they are in an underserved area, which is required to receive approval. Right now applicants just submit a map demonstrating broadband service. Applicant must may submit written certification provided by a local entity with jurisdiction over the area certifying the area as underserved. Local entities must hold public hearings and collect and pass on any quantitative data it deems appropriate within standards based on rules developed by the board. Board must give substantial weight to this certification and may only reject it if at least 10 of the 15 voting members agree.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This program is strictly for underserved communities but it has been too easy at this point for the board to quibble on exactly what is and is not underserved. By creating this certification program we create a way to require a super-majority of the board to reject underserved status so more broadband can get to more corners of the state more quickly provide more evidence.

Arguments Against:

This strips too much of the decision-making from the board. We should trust them to make the right call in these cases and not force their hand through a certification process that is fairly easy for a local area to obtain. The public isn’t going to object to getting more broadband and the data doesn’t have to prove anything specific, it just needs to exist.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1137

HB20-1293 Emergency Telephone Service Charges (Coram (R), Gonzales (D)) [McCluskie (D), Pelton (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Appropriation: $102,177
Fiscal Impact: About $6.5 million to local governments at full implementation

Goal: Create a new 911 surcharge and remove caps on existing surcharges, allowing the maximums to be approved by the public utilities commission instead, and allow use of the high cost support mechanism for upgrades to wireless 911 service.

Description:

Creates a new 911 surcharge collected for local governments. Allows the public utilities commission to set the amount each year based on the needs of the local governments but starts it at a maximum of $0.50 per user. This is to be charged on phone bills by providers and then passed along to the state government, which then distributes it to local governments within 60 days. Distribution to be based upon number of concurrent 911 sessions in each jurisdiction and commission must create a new formula for distribution each year. Suppliers get to keep 1% of it as a service fee. Commission gets to keep maximum of 4% of money collected to pay for its own expenses in administering the fee program. Surcharge must be applied uniformly and listed separately on customer bills.

Removes the cap on amount of the emergency telephone imposed by 911 bodies on phone service and instead gives the public utilities commission authority to set a maximum amount allowed on an annual basis (was $0.70). Allows suppliers to keep 2% of this fee as a service fee. Does the same to the prepaid wireless 911 charge (was 1.4% of purchase price). People who use federally supported programs to purchase free prepaid wireless phones are exempt.

Also changes allowed uses of the high cost support mechanism for broadband deployment to include upgrades to wireless 911 service, including infrastructure, software, and technology. Requires applications for money for this purpose to prove the project meets eligibility requirements.

Additional Information:

For the existing 911 fee imposed by local governments, providers must submit their payments monthly along with a report detailing what is being submitted and how much was retained by the provider as a service fee. Local governments are allowed to setup different payment procedures and schedules. Penalties of 15% of the delinquent amount and interest of 1% a month for late payments.

States no equipment providers are liable for any civil damages as a result of an incident involving their equipment unless the provider’s actions were grossly negligent or intentional.

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

It goes without saying that we need dialing 911 to work promptly and efficiently. We don’t have adequate staffing in some areas of the state. The national standard for calling 911 is to speak to a person within 10 seconds 90% of the time. In too many areas in Colorado that is not happening. This is a difficult job and in a tight employment market it can be hard to fill, so one avenue of course is simply paying more money. The other problem is that our systems have not caught up with our phone technology, and operators are still sometimes unable to locate wireless callers. People have died in the US because a 911 operator could not locate them. The federal grant money the state has received to address this problem is nice, but not sufficient to both upgrade our systems and maintain the level of funding required to run our 911 programs into the future. This is one of those minimal impacts on each person things that adds up to enough money to make a difference so we can run our 911 programs at a level necessary to keep the public safe.

Arguments Against:

We just got $2.2 million in grant money from the federal government last year to address the wireless 911 location problem, we could try going back for more if more funding is needed. Particular areas of the state that are having problems could also raise their fees (as this bill allows) without creating a whole new surcharge.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1293

SB20-098 Disaster Response First Informer Broadcaster (Cooke (R)) [Snyder (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow engineers and technicians access to otherwise closed areas in order to keep broadcast stations on the air during disasters.

Description:

Requires the state to include in disaster preparation plans the credentialing of first informer broadcasters, whose personnel and vehicles would be allowed to enter areas otherwise closed to the public to repair or maintain antennas or other infrastructure needed to communicate vital information to the public. This does not include reporters or photographers and first informer broadcasters are not permitting to conduct newsgathering activities. First informer broadcasters can be kept out of an area if it is deemed they would be subject to imminent threat of serious harm or death.

Additional Information:

Vehicles, fuel, food, water, or other essential materials brought into a closed area by a first informer broadcaster cannot be seized or confiscated except as otherwise authorized by law. Federal, state, and local agencies and their employees are not liable for any act or omission when facilitating access to first informer broadcasters.

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Under federal law, broadcasters must be responsive to their communities as a condition of holding their license and are recognized as first responders. We must ensure engineers and technical staff have access to facilities required to keep their stations on the air so the public can get critical information in an uninterrupted manner. Events in a disaster can move extremely fast and people rely on local TV and radio stations for breaking news to stay safe. This bill ensures that unless it is extremely dangerous, we allow stations to do what they can to stay on the air.

Arguments Against:

It is entirely possible that some news organizations will abuse this privilege and do reporting and newsgathering either surreptitiously or openly inside these areas. After all, a reporter is just someone who reports the news, a station engineer can perform that function too (if maybe not as well as a trained reporter).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-098

SB20-128 Generation And Transmission Cooperative Easement Broadband (Coram (R)) [Arndt (D), Catlin (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Extend ability to install broadband onto electric utility easements to easements owned by electric generation and transmission cooperatives and allow underground installation.

Description:

Currently cooperative electric associations with electric utility easements are allowed to install or allow a commercial broadband supplier to install broadband facilities on the easement, subject to notice and procedural requirements. This bill expands that ability to electric generation and transmission cooperatives in the same situation. It also authorizes either cooperative type to install underground broadband facilities on the easements, with the same notice and procedural requirements.

Additional Information:

The access to the easement must not violate an exclusivity term in the electric utility’s contract with the landowner, and the utility must determine the provider’s access won’t interfere with the utility’s equipment. The utility can also seek reimbursement from the provider for costs it incurs as a result of sharing with the broadband provider.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is part of a growing trend around the country, particularly in rural areas that have difficulties in getting traditional broadband access. It involves bringing broadband through the electric company, usually through fiber lines with federal grants. Colorado enabled the access through cooperative electric associations last year, it is only natural to extend this both to electric generation and transmission cooperatives and to allow for underground installation where necessary.

Arguments Against:

We should not have taken the first step down this road last year in the first place. The bottom could fall out in terms of federal grant money for this type of activity, and we could be left with a confusing overlap of systems that the electric companies will no longer take ownership of.

This bill is written so as to just apply to Tri-State and we should not have bills written for specific companies.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-128

SB20-183 Definition Of State Agency For SIPA Statewide Internet Portal Authority Services (Tate (R), Todd (D)) [Baisley (R), Titone (D)]

From the Joint Technology Committee

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Restore the scope of the statewide internet portal authority to cover the entire state government.

Description:

Changes the scope of the statewide internet portal authority (SIPA) to cover all state agencies. Currently it only covers agencies served by the office of information technology.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

When SIPA was created it did cover all state agencies, including all three branches of government. But when the office of information technology was created, the definition of “state agencies” that SIPA relied upon in law was changed. This in turn changed SIPA’s coverage and left out the entire legislative and judicial branches, as well as multiple important state agencies. This restores SIPA to its original, and intended role.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-183

SB20-198 Office of Information Technology Authorized To Hire Tech Experts For Digital Services (Bridges (D), Tate (R)) [Singer (D), Baisley (R)]

From the Joint Technology Committee

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Clarify that the office of information technology can hire IT managers, designers, engineers, and other staff to support delivery of citizen-facing digital services and other IT projects across state government.

Description:

Allows the chief information officer of the office of information technology to hire information technology managers, designers, engineers, and other staff to support delivery of citizen-facing digital services and other IT projects across state government.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

In a sense, this is born out the very public initial failure of the healthcare.gov federal website in 2014. That led to the creation of the United States Digital Service to address the lack of technical talent in the federal government. Six years later that service is still operating. Last year we tried out a similar approach through a volunteer pilot program. We could benefit from on-going and official support with technical experts doing a “tour of civic service” to help state employees build user-focused systems that help all Coloradans better access state resources in our increasingly digital world. Any hires would have to go through the normal budgeting process, so this is by no means a blank check. The legislature would still have to approve any expenditures.

Arguments Against:

This seems unnecessary. The office of information technology can already hire people it deems necessary for projects through the regular budgeting process.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB198