These are all of the Civil Rights bills proposed in the 2021 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.

Senate

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

MEGA

SB21-116 Prohibit American Indian Mascots PASSED SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
SB21-199 Remove Barriers To Certain Public Opportunities PASSED AMENDED

MAJOR

SB077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

MEDIUM

SB21-131 Protect Personal Identifying Information Kept By State PASSED AMENDED
SB21-169 Restrict Insurers' Use Of External Consumer Data PASSED AMENDED

MINOR+

SB21-026 Restoration Of Honor Act SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-280 Bias-motivated Crimes PASSED AMENDED

MINOR

TECHNICAL

HB21-1054 Housing Public Benefit Verification Requirement (Gonzales (D)) [Jackson (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None, no additional spending mandated

Goal:

  • Remove requirement that someone prove lawful residence in the US in order to get state-level public or assisted housing, housing services, housing assistance, or similar benefits

Description: Nothing to add

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Many housing assistance programs, including some emergency programs designed to help us through the COVID-19 crisis, ban undocumented immigrants (although some just require one household member to have documentation but they are not on the state level). People deserve a place to live—regardless of their immigration status
  • These are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and they are overrepresented in industries hit hardest by COVID. They are valuable taxpaying members of our economy and deserve the same support
  • Keeping people who are in this state housed keeps them safe, prevents long-term damage to children, and keeps them from consuming other state resources

In Further Detail: Our housing assistance programs are mostly designed to not give assistance to undocumented immigrants. For state level programs, if just one member of the household cannot prove legal status, then that family cannot get assistance. There are an estimated 140,000 children who are US citizens in this state with at least one parent who is undocumented, which means that family cannot get assistance. People deserve a place to live, and keeping them housed helps keep their family safe, prevents serious long-term damage to children, and keeps them from consuming other state resources. There is a mountain of research on the negative effects of homelessness of children, it leads to poorer health, poorer academic results, and poorer long-term health and earnings. Those long-term effects and the short-term costs of homelessness add up. These people are here, putting them on the streets won’t magically remove all undocumented people from the state. These people are also some of the most vulnerable members of our society and are overrepresented in industries hit hardest by COVID. They are valuable members of our society, people who were not citizens paid over $150 million in state and local taxes in Colorado in 2018 (this also counts people here on legal visas).

Arguments Against:

  • We actually already have devoted emergency COVID money to this cause, $5 million worth
  • State aid should be for people who have obeyed the law and are in the state legally
  • Providing more benefits to undocumented people may make the state more attractive to undocumented people and bring more of them here

In Further Detail: First, we have already allocated some state money, indirectly to be sure, towards this problem, $5 million of emergency COVID relief. When it comes to distributing state taxpayer dollars, that money should not go to people who are not obeying the law. Because anyone who is here illegally is breaking federal law to do so. They are jumping ahead of others waiting patiently to be Americans the right way, the legal way. It extremely important to note that someone who is not a US citizen but is in Colorado legally is obeying the law and is already eligible for housing assistance. They are included in that $150 million taxes figure in Arguments For, but are unaffected by this bill. There are many things we do for undocumented immigrants in the name of public safety, but making life more comfortable economically for them should not be one. Yes, there are long-term harms associated with lacking housing but there are long-term harms associated with a lot of things, like simply being poor, and with as many problems as we have with affordable housing in the state we cannot afford to simply give out housing assistance to everyone. Finally, the more benefits we provide to undocumented people in Colorado the more attractive our state becomes for new undocumented people.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1054

HB21-1057 Extortion Of Immigrants Engaging In Lawful Acts (Cooke (R), Rodriguez (D)) [Roberts (D), Tipper (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Technical

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Make it criminal extortion to require a person to perform an act or refrain from performing an otherwise lawful act against their will by threatening to reveal their immigration status to law enforcement

Description:

Right now it is criminal extortion to threaten to reveal someone’s status in exchange for money or things of value. Criminal extortion is a class 4 felony, which carries a fine of $2,000 to $500,000 and 2 to 6 years in prison.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is about public safety and common decency. No matter how you feel about undocumented immigrants, no one should be forced to do something against their will because they were threatened. This can include suppressing or taking someone's wages (legal if a "gift" or "negotiated"), demanding sexual favors, or demanding side work be done for free as a "favor". And revealing someone’s immigration status to law enforcement is very much a threat.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1057

HB21-1060 U Visa Certification Requirements (Gonzales (D)) [Gonzales-Gutierrez (D), Jodeh (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Require certification of U visas by relevant agencies if the requestor meets the requirements for a U visa within 90 days of the request or 30 if the requestor is either in custody of federal immigration authorities or if the requestor would become ineligible by virtue of age within 90 days of the request. Until July 2022 agencies have 60 days to respond if the requestor is in custody and only if they would become ineligible within 120 days of the request.

Description:

U visas are 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. They can be granted for up to four years, and after three visa holders are eligible to apply for permanent residence. 10,000 are issued each year, if there are more applicants than visa slots, applicants go on a waiting list. It is federal immigration enforcement policy to not remove people on the waiting list.

Agencies are not allowed to consider anything other than the criteria for issuing the U visa. 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.

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

Additional Information:

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: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This program helps us catch criminals and provides a way to help those brought to this country as slaves or indentured servants
  • This is not a place for the personal judgments of relevant agencies, all this bill does is ensure people who properly qualify for the program get the certification they deserve
  • Since federal authorities won’t deport people on the waiting list, it does matter to get deserving applicants on it, even if there is a huge backlog to obtain the visa

In Further Detail: 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 2019 is fairly unique and we do not throw out positive programs over such isolated incidents.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This program is limited to 10,000 visas issued per year and there is a significant backlog, over 152,000 as of 2019. 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.

Bottom Line:

  • 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 in 2019 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 HB21-1060

HB21-1072 Equal Access Services For Out-of-home Placements (Fields (D), Jaquez Lewis (D)) [Froelich (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Ban any program related to out-of-home placement of children, including for adoption, kinship care, foster care, or private child placement that receives state money from discriminating against prospective parents based on real or perceived disability, race, creed, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, national origin, ancestry, or any communicable disease of the person or members of their household. Denials based on any of these factors must be documented with a clear nexus to the ability to meet the needs of the child and cannot be detrimental to the health or welfare of the child
  • This extends to not allowing any additional screenings, processes, or procedures based on the same list unless the screening is needed to determine if placement would be detrimental to the health or welfare of the child
  • Programs must also provide culturally responsive placement-related services to the child that are reflective of the kid’s complex social identity. This must not be used to delay or deny an out-of-home placement

Description:

State must also ensure that its trainings for foster care and adoptive parents for pre-placement, include the following: effects of child abuse and neglect on child development; health issues in foster care, right of the child to have fair and equal access to all available services, care, treatment, and benefits and not be subject to harassment or discrimination based on the same list of prohibited items listed in the bill (disability, race, etc.); the rights of foster care siblings; and understanding role of child welfare education liaison. Post-placement annual training must include the health issues, right to fair and equal access, foster siblings, as well as importance of self-esteem and as appropriate, emancipation and independent living skills.

Placement related services may include: pursuing adoption or other child placement, providing early intervention services, out-of-home placement prevention services, out-of-home placement prevention services, or family preservation services. Also includes any service related to licensing or training for child care centers, adoptive or foster parents, or kinship care. Contractors and sub-contractors are included.

Service providers that provide specialized placement services to specific populations are not required to provide services outside the scope of their specialized service or specialized population if the specialization serves a specific treatment related service.

Additional Information:

Gender expression is defined as a person’s way of reflecting and expressing their gender to the outside world, typically demonstrated through appearance, dress, and behavior. Gender identity is defined as a person’s innate sense of their own gender, which may or may not correspond with their assigned sex at birth. Transmitted diseases includes HIV. Bill specifically states that the state may require additional training in excess of the bill’s requirements.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • 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
  • Your right to your own beliefs ends when in damages others rights
  • Religious-based organizations have already shown they will bend to these laws. One of the largest such agencies it the country recently announced it will work with LGBTQ parents

In Further Detail: The most important thing for any child is a stable and loving home with parents. The vast majority of research supports the conclusion that there is not 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. It is true that in America you have the right to your own religious beliefs but the courts of this country have long held that your rights end when they infringe on the rights of others. That has been the backbone of civil rights decisions. Refusing to serve LGBTQ couples because of your own religious beliefs harms the couples and the children who are denied a potential loving home. And religious-based organizations are moving toward this position. Bethany Christian Services, one the country’s largest adoption and foster care agencies, just announced it will serve LGBTQ couples.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We should accept and accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs. There are those who believe same-sex marriage and changing your gender assigned at birth are wrong
  • Religious organizations refusing to serve LGBTQ parents do not deny those same parents from adoption or foster care services from other agencies. It just keeps the religious agency from violating its own beliefs
  • Religious organizations are a critical part of the foster care and adoption service structure all over the country. If they are forced to withdraw rather than violate their beliefs it is not clear there are other providers waiting to jump in and help an already overburdened system

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. 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. 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. These organizations are very important to the overall foster care and adoption system, a system which is already overwhelmed. It is not at all clear that if these organizations decide to stop performing services completely rather than violate their own beliefs that there are other organizations ready to fill the void.


Bottom Line:

  • The inclusion of marital status may prevent agencies for preferring families with two parents to those with one, as you could argue that was discrimination based upon marital status, even if the intent is to prevent discrimination against two-parent households where the parents aren’t married

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1072

HB21-1075 Replace The Term Illegal Alien (Gonzales (D)) [Lontine (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Replace “illegal alien” with “worker without authorization” as it relates to public contracts for services

Description: Nothing to add

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Illegal alien is a deliberately dehumanizing term and an attempt to have us see these people as less than human, always the first step toward systematic mistreatment

In Further Detail: 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: workers without authorization.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The proposed term fails to capture what is actually happening here: a crime is being committed

In Further Detail: The phrase worker without authorization falls 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 HB21-1075

HB21-1108 Gender Identity Expression Anti-discrimination (Moreno (D)) [Esgar (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Add gender expression and gender identity to protected classes against which discrimination is forbidden in a bunch of places (see Description)
  • Changes the definition of sexual orientation from an individual’s “orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status or another person’s perception thereof” to “identity in relation to the gender or genders to which the individual is sexually or emotionally attracted and the behavior or social affiliation that may result from the attraction”

Description:

Gender expression is defined as “an individual’s way of reflecting and expressing the individual’s gender to the outside world, typically demonstrated through appearance, dress, and behavior.”

Gender identity is defined as “an individual’s innate sense of the individual’s own gender, which may or may not correspond with the individual’s sex assigned at birth.”

Gender expression and gender identity are added as protected classes to: membership of the state civil rights commission, employment practices, housing practices, places of public accommodation, publications that advertise places of public accommodation, consumer credit transactions, patient selection by doctors, sales of cemetery plots, membership in labor organizations, state labor for public works projects, auto insurance, funeral and crematory services, jury service eligibility, law licenses, juvenile diversion program, access to services for youth in foster care, enrollment in any publicly funded school, local school’s written policies regarding employment, promotion, and dismissal, assignment or transfer of a public school teacher, leasing portions of the grounds or improvements on the grounds of CSU Pueblo and the School of Mines, enrollment or classification of students at private occupational schools, training provided to police officers concerning prohibition against profiling, criminal justice data collection, employment with the state, availability for services for prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, membership on the health equity commission, availability of family planning services, requirements for managed care programs participating in state Medicaid and CHP+ programs, treatment and access to services in facilities providing substance use disorder treatment, employment in county departments of human or social services, practices of the state housing and financing authority in making or committing to make a housing facility loan, imposition of occupancy requirements on a property where the owner is claiming exemption from property taxes due to charitable use, determination of whether expenses paid at or to a club that has restrictive policies are tax deductible, and practices of transportation network companies in providing services to the public.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Every category these two classes were added to already listed all of the other protected classes, including sexual orientation (under its old definition) so there is not a large change here from current practice
  • Adding gender expression and better definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity will enable fuller protection for LGBTQ people in state, in particular by protecting gender expression
  • LGBTQ Americans still face enormous amounts of discrimination in their lives, with more than 33% reporting some form of discrimination in the past year and over 60% of transgendered Americans reporting discrimination
  • Employers can still have dress codes and professional appearance requirements, they just have to be gender neutral
  • For religious rights, your rights end where they violate the civil rights of someone else. Just as we would not accept discrimination against a Black person we cannot accept discrimination against an LGBTQ person

In Further Detail: First, it is important to note that every single place where these two new classes were added already had the full list of other protected classes, which includes sexual orientation under its old definition. So why the new definitions? First, they are simply more accurate. Sexual orientation is absolutely not the same thing as gender identity and lumping them together was not accurate and frankly insultingly so. It is also more useful to give gender identity its own full definition. Gender expression of course was not previously protected at all. This change is important because gender expression often sits at the fulcrum of discrimination experienced by LGBTQ people. How people dress, how they wear their hair, or if they wear makeup can be used as the base for discrimination if it does not conform to stereotypical “masculine” or “feminine” behavior. On the whole LGBTQ people still face enormous discrimination in America, especially transgender Americans. A 2020 survey found more than 33% of LGBTQ people faced discrimination of some sort in the previous year and that number jumped to more than 60% of transgendered Americans. Over half have a hidden a relationship, 15% reported postponing or avoiding medical treatment due to discrimination, up to nearly 30% of transgendered Americans. That’s nationwide of course, but still, this sort of discrimination is active and pervasive and beefing our anti-discrimination laws is a necessary step to combat it. For the concern about professional dress, businesses can still require professional dress codes and standards of attire, they just have to be gender neutral. As for the religious rights concern, 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 discrimination against Black people based on personal beliefs, we cannot accept it against gay or transgendered people.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • In some workplaces, someone with multiple facial piercings or hair dyed a strange color would have trouble getting a job, not because of anything to do with gender expression but simply standards of dress and appearance required at that workplace. That could get difficult if an employee claims this violates their gender expression

Bottom Line:

  • 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. LGBTQ people can get those services from someone else.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1108

HB21-1150 Create The Colorado Office Of New Americans (Gonzales (D)) [Jodeh (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: $2.5 million per year thanks to federal funds

Goal:

  • Create the Colorado Office of New Americans to implement statewide strategies to facilitate economic stability and promote successful economic, social, linguistic and cultural integration by investing in the success of immigrants in Colorado. This is to be accomplished in part by working through community-based initiatives and non-profit organizations

Description:

To achieve its goals, the office is to:

  • Identify and address issues related to integration
  • Foster enhanced inclusion for immigrants
  • Ensure equitable opportunities and access to services for immigrants
  • Establish and work with a community advisory committee that can provide input from the state’s immigrant communities and work directly with those communities to hear and address their concerns
  • Manage Coordinate with the state’s already existing refugee services program and any other relevant programs that come in the future
  • Coordinate with the governor and the legislature and make recommendations around structural changes in government, public-private partnerships, and cultural and diversity inclusion training for state employees
  • Serve as a resource for community-based organizations serving immigrant communities and serve as the point of contact for government agencies and the public for immigrant issues
  • Ensure data use is only done to further the office’s mission and never for civil immigration enforcement
  • Undertake studies, symposia, research, and factual reports to gather insight and present recommendations related to issues of concern for immigrants

Office must, to degree possible, make sure that all services and documents and communications are accessible to all Coloradans, regardless of English proficiency or disability.

In working with community-based programs, the office is tasked to:

  • Create economic opportunities including: workforce development, skills recognition, and barrier reduction; increased economic stability for immigrants; entrepreneurship and higher education attainment; and naturalization among eligible individuals
  • Increase access to: government resources across all levels of government; English language learning programs; and referrals to community-based organizations
  • Educate and provide outreach on: promoting success and contributions of the immigrant community; and promote mutual understanding and social bridging opportunities across communities

The state may accept gifts, grants, or donations to run the office. The declaration of intent at the beginning of the law states that the goal is not to fund the office with state money until the 2023-24 fiscal year, but leaves earlier funding up to the discretion of the legislature.

Additional Information:

The office is initially placed in the department of labor and employment and its director is to be chosen by the executive director of the department. The director is in charge of staffing the office and it is the intent of the assembly that an individual’s lived experience or work within the immigrant community be considered for hiring decisions. The office must report annually to the legislature.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • One of this country’s great advantages over the rest of the world is our acceptance of people from different cultures from all over the world. 45% of the Fortune 500 were started by immigrants or children of immigrants
  • 21% of the population of Colorado are either immigrants or the children of at least one immigrant and they are tremendous drivers of our state economy
  • Maximizing the potential of our immigrant community can help make Colorado one of the most attractive states in the country for these dynamic communities

In Further Detail: Immigrants are part of the backbone of America and Colorado. Of the multiple things that make this country special, the one that stands out the most is our melding of different cultures and peoples. It has been a source of tremendous strength as immigrants and children of immigrants have built some of our greatest and best-known companies. 45% of the Fortune 500 were started by immigrants or children of immigrants, including Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Capital One, Colgate, eBay, Kraft Foods, Kohl’s, Google, Pfizer, and Tesla. It is arguable that our acceptance and fostering of immigrants provides the single greatest advantage the United States has over any other country in the world. And of course this is true in Colorado as well. 10% of the state’s population is immigrants and refugees and another 11% are the children of at least one immigrant. More than 35,000 immigrants and refugee employers employ over 100,000 Coloradans. And the state is positioned to continue to grow. So creating an office to help ease the path of these immigrants and refugees will help the entire state prosper by helping Colorado be one of the most immigrant-friendly states in the nation. If the United States’ great advantage is the so-called melting pot, then it makes sense that maximizing that advantage in Colorado will only rebound to our benefit. To top it off, the program has a net positive fiscal impact thanks to anticipated federal funds. And as an added benefit, it’s just the right thing to do.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The great success story of our immigrant population seems to imply that things are going pretty well right now, without the need for an expensive office with full-time employees
  • We are a melded nation but part of that culture is individual struggle and achievement, which may in part account for the great success of so many of our immigrants

In Further Detail: The Arguments For section reads like a great advertisement for our current way of doing things. We have thriving communities that are making great contributions to our state. So we may not need a full-time office devoted to just these communities. The bill doesn’t lay out a complete organizational structure, but full-time employees cost money and there will be at least a few of them. If we don’t need to spend that money to achieve the desired result then let’s save it and spend it on something else. Individual struggle and achievement is also a part of American culture, for good and for ill, and it is one of the driving forces behind the great entrepreneurship mentioned in the Arguments For section. It is possible that part of the reason for the great success of so many of our immigrants is that it hasn’t always been easy, that they’ve had to fight for their place. That struggle breeds work ethic and innovative thinking.


Bottom Line:

  • Not funding this office right out of the gate sets it up for failure. Either we go all the way and create a fully funded office or we don’t. Trying to straddle a middle ground creates the possibility of a weakly functioning or non-existent office that looks ripe for closure in two years because it isn’t accomplishing anything

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1150

HB21-1194 Immigration Legal Defense Fund (Moreno (D)) [Tipper (D), Ricks (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $100,000
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

  • Establishes an immigration legal defense fund to make grants to qualifying non-profits to provide representation to indigent clients in immigration courts, the board of immigration appeals, other proceedings necessary to protect the client from removal or detention, and any continued services necessary after a final order in their case to conclude their representation. Grantees can also pay litigation fees with the grant money. Grantees cannot use fund to represent clients in district court, circuit court of appeals, or Supreme Court

Description:

To qualify, an organization must be a non-profit with a physical place of business in Colorado and obtain more than 25% of its funding for sources other than the grant fund. Must be able to provide services within 6 months of receiving funds and must have an attorney on staff with at least three years’ experience in providing legal representation to indigent clients in civil immigration proceedings or partner with a provider with that experience (either a non-profit or private attorney).

Grantees must accept cases without regard to possibility of success. They must move to withdraw representation of the client if: the case is moved out of state, the client no longer lives in Colorado, or withdrawal is required by the rules of professional conduct.

Grantees must submit applications each year. State is prioritize expertise and qualifications in selecting awards. Bill tasks the state with awarding larger grants to fewer qualifying organizations to achieve a greater, measurable impact. In any case 70% of money allocated must go to represent clients who are detained in custody for deportation, unless the need can be meet with less than 70%. 2/3 of the remaining money must be used outside the Denver metro area, unless there aren’t enough qualified applicants. State can use a maximum of $15,000 or 5% of appropriated funds to administer the program.

Grantees must report annually to state without violating attorney client privilege. State must report annually to legislature.

Other proceedings necessary to protect the client can include: custody redetermination proceedings, reinstatement or removal proceedings, withholding-only proceedings, request for release from civil immigration detention, or application for ancillary relief from removal. Litigation expenses can include application fees, interpretation and translation costs, medical or psychological evaluations, and expert fees.

State may accept gifts, grants, and donations to run the program.

Allows counties to do the same thing (defense funds).

Additional Information:

Grantee report must include, if possible without violating privilege, the following:

  • Number of clients served
  • Case outcomes
  • Type of defense (detained/non-detained)
  • Type of case, including removal, asylum, adjustment of status, and work authorizations
  • Location of court and judge for each case
  • Client family data, including number of children and if the household has mixed immigration status
  • Client country of origin and ethnicity and zip code
  • Client’s duration in Colorado and the US
  • Whether bond or release was granted and if so, cost of bond
  • Income range of client
  • Whether or not the client had previous immigration status in the US
  • Number of days spent in detention


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Immigrants that lack representation in these civil immigration proceedings are overwhelmingly likely to lose: from 2007 to 2012 on 5% of civil immigration cases were won without an attorney
  • This extends to likelihood of immigrants succeeding in being released from detention to await the hearing: those with an attorney were 3.5 times more likely to be released
  • None of that is justice—it is more akin to a show trial with fixed results
  • All of this actually costs the state money, not just in detention costs but also in loss of wages, tax revenue, and employer turnover costs—so we can not only do the right thing by these people to ensure they get a fair trial, we can also save the state money in the process

In Further Detail: Going into these immigration hearings without a lawyer is almost always a guarantee of a loss. Only 5% of civil immigration cases were won between 2007 and 2012 without an attorney. That’s because our laws are so complex that without legal expertise, it is nearly impossible to prevail even if you have valid legal claims to stay in the country. Because this is civil court, the right to counsel does not apply. And even though it is civil court, many immigrants are detained until their case is resolved. It’s also extremely difficult to obtain release pending the hearing in these cases without an attorney: someone with representation is 3.5 times more likely to be released. The estimate is that 70% of immigrants detained at the Aurora facility faced deportation hearings without a lawyer. That isn’t justice, it’s more akin to a show trial. Deportations and detention are expensive and also cost the state from lost earnings, employee turnover, and lost tax revenues. An estimate from the Colorado Fiscal Institute was that the state loses $18.6 million a year through immigrants not having universal representation, the lion’s share coming from employer turnover costs. So we can actually save quite a bit of money for the state by investing in representation for immigrants facing civil immigration court. This isn’t about tipping the scales of justice against the government, it is about righting those scales and giving immigrants a chance to prove their case.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • These are civil proceedings based on federal laws, the state should stay out of it
  • Providing free legal support may attract more undocumented immigrants to the state since their odds of successfully fighting deportation may rise with representation
  • Employer turnover costs are pretty difficult to measure accurately, so the exact savings of keeping people out of detention are hard to quantify

In Further Detail: These are civil proceedings based around federal laws. It is not the place for the state of Colorado to step in and try to get people off so they can stay in the state. Doing so may actually make the state more attractive for people who are not in the country legally, as they would have more of a fighting chance of staying. On the economic front, employer turnover costs are always pretty nebulous to measure and since that represents the majority of the savings, it’s a hard number to quantify. The study used 16% of a worker making less than $30,000 a year as the cost to the employer. This generally comes from lost productivity as the new worker gains experience and additional training requirements. Again, all extremely hard to quantify.


Bottom Line:

  • This is a drop in the bucket for what is required to give full justice and achieve all of that cost savings. That same report from the Colorado Fiscal Institute estimated it would cost $4 to $5.7 million to adequately represent all those who lack legal representation and are detained. To provide support to those who are not detained? Another $9.5 million. $100,000 just isn’t going to go very far

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1194

SB21-026 Restoration Of Honor Act (Moreno (D)) [Ortiz (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Create a new veteran status in the state of “discharged LBGT veteran”, which is someone who was discharged from the military without honorable status because of their LGBT status. Those with this discharged LBGT veteran status are eligible for the same benefits and programs as honorably discharged veterans.

Description:

The bill requires the board of veteran affairs to be the arbiter of these cases. To qualify, individuals must have been discharged without honorable status due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or statements, consensual sexual conduct or consensual acts related to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The board must require applicants to supply their discharge papers, a personal affidavit, and any relevant records. If the individual does not have the records, they must submit an affidavit and it is still up to the board to determine final status.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • It is no longer possible to discharge someone from the military for their LGBT status, so it is only fair to give full benefits to those who were discharged before the rules were changed

In Further Detail: Being LGBT is of course now not grounds for discharge from the military. So what we have is a situation where since the law changed several years ago, LGBT members of the military will gain the full benefits of being a veteran if they are honorably discharged, but those who were discharged before the law was changed for no other reason cannot. This is obviously unfair and we owe it to those who served honorably to treat them just like all of our other honorable veterans.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-026

SB077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing (Gonzales (D)) [Benavidez (D), Kipp (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Remove requirement that proof of lawful presence in the country is required for licensure, registration, or certification for any profession regulated by the department of regulatory agencies or the department of education.

Description:

For the department of education, alternative means to proving identity include individual taxpayer identification number, or another document as determined by the state board of education. This is in lieu of a social security number.

Removal of requirements of lawful presence applies to local governments as well.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We face massive shortages in education and child care in Colorado, we need to tap every avenue possible to help fill them
  • Anyone who is willing to work, pay taxes, and contribute positively to the economic well-being of our state should be able to do so. We will all benefit
  • This will bring currently unlicensed workers into our system, which will increase public safety. Our current system actually makes us less safe
  • This is not novel, multiple other states, including “red” states have done the same

In Further Detail: We have massive educator and child care shortages all over 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 with our kids away. This should be true of other professions as well. Someone who is willing to work, pay taxes, and contribute positively to the economy of our state should not be prevented from doing so. All of us benefit from quality workers being able to achieve economic success. It also lifts the ceiling on progress for students who do not have documentation. It is not the job of our regulatory agencies to serve as immigration police: they are there to ensure public safety. Immigration status has nothing to do with if someone can do the job. Furthermore, it will actually help keep the public safer, by bringing undocumented workers into the state licensure system rather than having them operate unlicensed. This is also not a novel solution: multiple other states have similar provisions, including “red” states like Nebraska and Indiana. On the legal question, the federal government gives states discretion on providing eligibility for state and local benefits for those who are in the country without documentation. This merely gives these people access to the benefit of licensure, registration, or certification by the state. It does not give anyone a job.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • People who are here illegally should not be given the same treatment in terms of getting any job they want as people who are here legally
  • Despite the attempt in the bill to claim this is part of a state’s ability to regulate its own benefits, it is a federal crime to employ an undocumented immigrant

In Further Detail: People who came to this country illegally, skipping the line ahead of thousands who are patiently waiting, should not be boosted in this manner. It is one thing to give basic public services and benefits to everyone in Colorado because it benefits us all, it is far different to try to make it so there is no difference between those here illegally and those here legally for the high-quality jobs that come with licensure or registration requirements. Furthermore, it is a federal crime to employ an undocumented immigrant. All employers are supposed to fill out the I9 form proving their employees are here legally. So despite the bill’s attempt to claim the state has the power to do this, it would in fact be committing criminal behavior for any school district to hire someone who cannot prove they are in this country legally.


Bottom Line:

  • We should focus on a community that is here legally but cannot get these licenses: the Dreamers. Nationwide they pay $4 billion in taxes and are positive contributors to our society. They came here through no fault of their own and most importantly, are here legally at the moment

In Further Detail: This goes far beyond the idea of giving those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, the “Dreamers”, the ability to do this, as was proposed last year. DACA members are at least in the country legally, if tenuously. Rather than reach to allow anyone who breaks immigration laws to get whatever job they’d like, at a time when unemployment in the state remains stubbornly high, let’s stick to people who are here legally, because we recognize they were brought here as children. Give these rights to DACA members.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-077

SB21-116 Prohibit American Indian Mascots (Danielson (D)) [Benavidez (D), McLachlan (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Significant

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None at state level, schools that have to change will have costs associated with it

Goal:

  • Forbid any public K-12 school or institution of higher learning in the state from using an American Indian mascot unless they already have an agreement with a federally recognized American Indian tribe, in which case the school is expected to honor the agreement. The tribe may revoke the agreement at any time. If an agreement is revoked the school has one year to change its name. New agreements require the permission of a tribe, a curriculum at the school that teaches American Indian history and supports a positive cultural exchange, and the mascot must be named after the tribe, which is the sole discretion of the tribe to determine. Schools that violate this law must pay a $25,000 fine for each month they remain in violation, which goes to the state education fund. All must be in compliance by June 2022.

Description:

State must identify all schools that are out of compliance with the law once it is signed, notify them, and post them on its website. Schools can apply for funds from the capital school construction fund to make changes needed to comply with law.

American Indian mascot is defined as: a name, symbol, or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian tribe, individual, custom, or tradition that is used as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name for the school.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • These names and mascots do actual damage right now to American Indian kids and to the views held by non-American Indians of American Indians. They reinforce stereotypes
  • A massive number of American Indian organizations and the National Congress of American Indians supports bans like this: we should listen to the actual people being affected instead of telling them how they should feel
  • This is part of a nationwide movement, with multiple professional sports teams changing their names and other states implementing similar bans
  • At least 25 schools in the state have these names and mascots and seem unwilling to change them voluntarily, despite multiple opportunities and the recommendation of a 2015 state commission to do so. The bill provides exceptions for schools with agreements with tribes

In Further Detail: This is not about political correctness or recognitions of past wrongs. These mascots and nicknames are doing actual damage right now. Multiple studies have shown that American Indian mascots and nicknames have negative impacts on the self-esteem of American Indian kids who are exposed to them. The mascots and nicknames with more negative associations (like the Lamar Savages) also lower the opinion of American Indians among non-American Indians. While the more positive or neutral mascots and nicknames do not increase the opinion of American Indians among non-American Indians. The mascots and nicknames reinforce stereotypes of primitive, aggressive, and sometimes cartoonish people: from Eaton Fightin’ Reds large nosed caricatures to the Lamar Savage’s “Chief Ugh-Lee” mascot. In 2015 the state studied the issue with a commission composed of American Indians who visited any school that wanted to participate. Only four chose to do so, and the commission recommended to completely eliminate American Indians as mascots from our schools. Very few schools have done so voluntarily, despite mounting public pressure that has led to professional sports teams changing their names and logos. The National Congress of American Indians and over 1,500 American Indian organizations have called for a ban like this. The opinions of the actual people being depicted and affected by these names and mascots should count the most. Maine and Oregon have already enacted similar bans and other states are moving too. At least 25 schools in Colorado still have these names. It is time to change them. The bill also provides exceptions for schools that already have agreements with tribes (or that make them in the future) like Arapahoe and Strasburg High Schools.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • These names and mascots are not meant to be derogatory but instead represent years of tradition of respect and pride in the name
  • There are American Indians who are not opposed to these names and mascots, including some that attend these schools
  • Multiple schools in the state have made agreements with American Indian tribes on using their names and mascots in ways that bring greater true cultural awareness to the kids at the schools
  • This will cost these schools money, in some cases quite a bit, in a time when resources are scarce

In Further Detail: These names and mascots are not meant to be disrespectful, in many cases they are actually meant to honor American Indians. Some of these schools have decades of tradition built into their names and mascots and use them a badge of honor, not of derision. Lamar graduates are proud to be Savages. There are American Indians who have gone to Lamar and are proud of the name. And that occurs nationally as well, there are American Indians who are not opposed to the use of these names and mascots. There are also some schools that have existing agreements with American Indian tribes about their mascots. The Arapahoe High School Warriors are endorsed by the Arapaho Nation and have been since the 1990s. The school is infused with true cultural awareness of Arapaho culture. Strasburg High School just came to a similar agreement in 2018, changing their logo in the process to one drawn by a tribe member. This is also going to cost these schools money, in some cases not an insignificant amount, at a time when resources are scarce.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-116

SB21-131 Protect Personal Identifying Information Kept By State (Gonzales (D)) [Gonzales-Gutierrez (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $364,322
Fiscal Impact: About $170,000 a year

Goal:

  • Prohibit personal identifying information from being shared with federal immigration enforcement by state agencies and employees except as required by law or court order. This includes giving these authorities access to the database. Reduce the amount of personal identifying information in state records by requiring state agencies to only collect certain information as required by law or to administer a program: place of birth, immigration or citizenship status, or information from passports, permanent resident cards, alien registration cards, or employment authorization documents. No asking about immigration status unless required by law or to administer program
  • Create a tracking system for third-party access to personal identifying information through a database that is not publicly available. With some exceptions these requests must be in writing and agencies must keep a record of them and submit them quarterly to the state’s office of legal counsel. State must report top-level statistics to legislature quarterly as well
  • Requires all third-party requesters to attest, under penalty of perjury, that they will not disclose information to federal immigration authorities unless required to by law or court order

Description:

Except for disclosure by state officials to federal immigration enforcement, all other provisions must start being followed in 2022 (disclosure ban starts immediately).

Attorney general’s office to create a standardized certification form for attesting third-parties will not share with federal immigration officials.

Third-party requests that are excluded from this bill include: open records act requests, inquiry made through a database or automated network, request governed by a data-sharing agreement (if the agreement ensures compliance with this bill), request related to elections, request made to the department of public safety, or requests protected by the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Record of the third-party request must include: the request and date of request, description of purpose of request, identity of the requestor (including entity they work for and if they are a police officer, badge number), whether it was granted or denied, name and title of state employee who granted or denied the request, and a summary of why the request was granted or denied.

Data requests to the state's DRIVES system (handles licenses, registration, etc.) are also exempt if the state cannot comply with the bill without programming changes (it is very expense to make changes to DRIVES). In this case the state must continue to allow access if access is required to comply with state or federal law and submit at least quarterly a report that the access is being granted and that the state and the third party are in compliance with state law on sharing information.

Intentionally violating provisions of this bill carries an injunction and civil penalty of a maximum of $50,000 per violation.

Requires the department of revenue to follow the rules of this law when releasing information for public inspection and includes identification documents for undocumented individuals in the list of records the department cannot make public under open records requests.

Additional Information:

Report to the legislature must include total number of requests, responses to requests, categories for rejection reasons, and categories for third-party requestors.

Personal identifying information is defined as information that may be used, in conjunction with other information, to identify a specific individual. This includes: name, date of birth or place of birth, social security or tax identification number, password or pass code, official driver’s license or identification card number, information contained in an employment authorization document or permanent resident card, vehicle registration number or license plate number, photograph or digitized image, fingerprint, record of physical feature or physical characteristic or behavioral characteristic, handwriting, government passport number, health insurance identification number, employer or student or military identification number, financial transaction device, school or educational institution attended, source of income, medical information, biometric data, financial or tax records, home or work addresses or other contact information, family or emergency contact information, status as recipient of public assistance or as a crime victim, race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration or citizenship status, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical disability, intellectual or developmental disability, or religion

Department of revenue is already not allowed to make applications for driver’s licenses, identification cards, and title and registration public in open records requests.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Undocumented Coloradans are facing increasing exposure to federal immigration authorities through participation in programs that collect their identifying information—we want them to use these programs because we want kids in school, people getting preventative medical care, people in secure housing, etc.
  • It is not the job of the state of Colorado to enforce federal immigration laws and we already have a back log of deportation cases and supposed priority for deportation for those who commit crimes. Us not actively aiding federal immigration enforcement won’t materially change anything
  • There is no valid reason for sharing this information with federal authorities (absent legal requirements and court orders) for state agencies and third-party data requestors to do their jobs. And when we don’t need to know immigration status or where someone is from we don’t need to ask
  • The bill should have very little impact on day-to-day operations in the state

In Further Detail: As we continue to broaden basic services we offer to undocumented residents, we are increasing their exposure in state records to federal immigration services. Housing, education, health care, financial assistance, and more, we are collecting this information across all swathes of government. What we do not want to happen is to have these records used against the undocumented, which has already occurred with the department of motor vehicles sharing information with federal immigration authorities. The point of these programs is provide basic social safety net protections to everyone in the state, because we all benefit from kids in school, people getting preventative medical care, and people safely housed. All of that is undermined if these programs can be used as weapons against this community. There is already a large backlog of immigration deportation cases and federal agents are already supposed to prioritize illegals who commit crimes over others. So-called sanctuary cities do not protect illegals who commit crimes, so not turning people over to the federal government isn’t materially affecting the immigration system in this country. Federal immigration enforcement is not the job of the state of Colorado and we should not be using our resources to do it. And yes, the list of information is long—but we aren’t prohibiting this information from being shared among valid agencies or valid third-party requests. We are merely prohibiting passing this along to federal immigration enforcement. Absent legal requirements or a court order there is simply no good reason for doing so in the first place. The only information prohibition in the bill is state agencies asking about birthplace or immigration status unless they have to legally or need to do in order to do their job. Again, there isn’t a good reason to ask these questions otherwise. So the bill should have very little impact on the day-to-day jobs of our officials. It’ll just prevent any of them for doing something that is very much not their job: trying to get undocumented people deported.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Immigration is handled by the federal government, not by the states. The state cannot refuse to participate in the immigration policies of the federal government because it does not like them. So if a federal immigration official wants this information, it should be provided
  • We have a whole set of laws relating to people who actively aide criminals, and this bill in effect would the entire state of Colorado an accessory
  • It might also make Colorado a magnet for people who are in the country illegally, increasing the number of illegal residents in the state and increasing the burden on social services agencies

In Further Detail: The state of Colorado does not get to decide what the immigration laws of the United States are, or how they should be enforced. That is a federal decision. So we should not refuse to help federal immigration authorities carry out their duties to remove people who are in this country illegally. This would be just as true of a state doing the opposite: trying to deport people against the wishes of the federal government. We having aiding and abetting laws because we recognize that helping someone commit a crime is in and of itself, a crime. This bill puts Colorado further on that aiding and abetting road of helping tens of thousands of people evade federal law. It also may make the state more attractive for other undocumented people: the easier we make it to stay in Colorado relative to other states and the more services we extend to the undocumented, the more likely they are to pick Colorado as a destination and consume more of those services.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-131

SB21-169 Restrict Insurers' Use Of External Consumer Data (Buckner (D)) [Ricks (D), Esgar (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Ban insurers from considering a person’s race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or transgender status in any insurance practice and from directly or indirectly using any external data or information source to create an algorithm or predictive model that unfairly discriminates against any of those classes. Commissioner of insurance to set rules to enforce this. Rules must provide for insurers to have a reasonable amount of time to correct any actions
  • Requires insurers to report to the state if they use any external data or information source to create an algorithm or predictive model. Commissioner of insurance is to examine the reported algorithm or model and if the commissioner determines it provides no direct causal relationship to insurance losses or the condition of the property or applicant and that the data unfairly discriminates against one of the protected classes in the bill, the commission can prohibit its use

Description:

Insurers must provide: a description of the external data and information sources used in the development of the algorithm or predictive model, an indication of each insurance practice the it is used for, an explanation of the manner in which it is used, an attestation that it does not use information concerning someone’s membership in one of the protected classes of the bill (for instance, use someone’s race as a variable) or result in proxy discrimination based on protected class (like downgrading predominantly minority zip codes), and an assessment on if it may result in unfair discrimination against one of the protected classes and if so, what actions the insurer has taken to mitigate the risk, including ongoing monitoring.

Commissioner is to engage in a stakeholder process prior to setting rules that includes insurers, consumer representatives, and any other interested parties. Commissioner must hold different meetings for different types of insurance. Notice must provided and the meetings must be public.

External data and information means data insurers typically use to set premium rates, such as credit scores, social media habits, locations, purchasing habits, home ownership, educational attainment, licensures, civil judgments, and court records.

To be clear, this is mostly aimed at car, property, and life insurance. Title insurance and bonds executed by surety companies are excluded. As are commercial insurance with premiums over $10,000.

Bill explicity states that insurers can use or require test, medical, family history, occupational history, disability, or behavioral information which, based on actuarial principles, has a direct relationship to morbidity, mortality, or longevity risk so long as the information is not coming from external data sources.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Insurers use a lot of external information that is fed into complex algorithms to figure out risk levels, which determine premium rates and a lot of the data is pretty marginal in terms of acutal risk, like educational attainment or what part of a city you live in
  • Multiple studies have found minorities paying higher premiums than they should, based on more traditional assessments of risk, with little to no evidence that in reality they end up producing more claims
  • So beyond simply banning discriminatory practices, the bill also requires us to get a look at any algorithms or models in use and for insurers to prove that when there are discriminatory effects they do result in accurately gauged risk or insurers must stop using them

In Further Detail: Insurers use a lot of external information to figure out levels of risk so as to set premium rates. A lot of it has to do with things that may be pretty marginal in terms of actual risk: your educational attainment, for instance, has little to do with how safe a driver you are. In many cases, neither does what part of a city you live in. But yet multiples studies have found zip codes with higher minority populations paying higher car insurance premiums than predominantly white zip codes. Property insurance shows a similar problem, where just houses worth the exact same value in the exact same city have different rates with minorities paying higher rates. The core of this problem is the giant data sets these insurers are using to create extremely complex algorithms. And so minorities frequently end up with higher premiums than they deserve which puts additional barriers in front of ownership of property for them (cars and houses) and drains more wealth out of these communities. And the insurance industry itself knows it has a problem. Just last year, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners announced a commission on race and insurance and part of the mission of that commission is to look into big data in the industry. There are all sorts of ways to tweak models to make them say what you want to hear, so we should not be overly in awe of a complex, machine driven statistical model. Algorithms and models have a ton of art in them, not just pure science. So what does this bill do? First is bans discrimination against these classes but importantly it goes a step further and requires the insurers to be transparent with the state about just what they are doing with their algorithms and models. If the insurer can demonstrate that in fact whatever discriminatory effects occur from their model do have something tangible and provable to do with risk, then fine, you are allowed to charge more for riskier individuals. But if they don’t, and we already know many of them don’t from independent studies, then insurers must stop using them.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Insurers gauge risk for a living and they take it really seriously, which is why they build these complex computer programs to try to fine-tune risk levels as much as possible. The programs aren’t racist, they are imply created to crunch large amounts of data and figure out how all of it interacts with risk
  • Sometimes predictors of risk correlate negatively with minority populations, like credit scores where minorities have faced unfair and wrong barriers to raising their credit. But credit is a solid predictor of risk
  • It will be extremely difficult to tease out the effects of all variables in a complex algorithm because some of them are there to either control for behavior (“all other things equal”) or for specific interactions with other variables

In Further Detail: Precisely gauging risk is what insurers do, and the algorithms are told to be racist, they’re simply told to crunch all of the data and figure out what factors make it more likely someone will cause the insurer to pay out a claim. A prime example of this is credit scores. Minority populations historically face barriers to raising their credit (which is certainly not right), but credit scores are predictive of someone’s ability to take on new funds and pay them back. In other words a predictor of risk. But by proxy they discriminate against minorities. It is true the bill has provisions for insurers to demonstrate the models actually do what insurers say they do, but how are we going to tease out individual variables in a complex model? Some variables are in models not for the direct relationship they have to the answer but because they help you control for something. Control variables are in fact cornerstones of just about any research into inequality. Because you have to make “all other things equal” in order to prove that the same basic fact pattern is treated differently based on race. So in insurance, some models may be using variables like zip codes to control for location. Some of course may not, but that’s just a small example of how difficult it will be tease apart these effects.


Bottom Line:

  • To say these algorithms are complex would be an understatement. It may a be a stretch to just assume the state will be able to completely unpack them without outside help. The bill also says the commission “may” not “shall” stop discriminatory algorithms from being used. We should not make this optional

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-169

SB21-199 Remove Barriers To Certain Public Opportunities (Jaquez Lewis (D), Winter (D)) [Esgar (D), Gonzales-Gutierrez (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Increased benefit availability projected to be up to $23 million a year. Negligible other costs to implement bill.

Goal:

Allow any undocumented person in the state to receive public benefits at the state and local level and be eligible for professional licenses and registrations from the government without needing to prove lawful residence in the country, including to be a notary. Also lift prohibition on state contracting with businesses that knowingly employ or contract with undocumented people.

Description:

Removes the requirement that someone prove they are a legal resident of the United States to be eligible for public benefits, at either the state or local level. Removes the prohibition on the state entering into a contract with a contractor who knowingly employs or contracts with people who are undocumented.

The bill would change the identification laws for these benefits by removing social security card and substituting valid state driver’s license or identification card or any valid documents that are required to obtain a state driver’s license or ID card.

For notaries, change current process and instead accept valid state driver’s license, ID card, US military card or dependent ID card, US coast guard merchant mariner card, or a Native American tribal document. Then the individual must sign an affidavit stating they are in the country legally (so those who are not still cannot become notaries, this conflicts with SB077 which currently removes this requirement entirely) Those same identifications also allow for proof of identify for reciprocal licensing for Colorado to other states.

The bill also has some other overlapping provisions with SB077, as this bill also removes the requirement for individuals to prove lawful residence in order to get a license or certification from the state.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We are talking about a population of 162,000 people and 140,000 US citizens who are children with at least one undocumented parent (which disqualifies a lot of public assistance). They are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and are overrepresented in industries hit hardest by COVID
  • They are also valuable members of our society, paying $150 million in state and local taxes in 2018 and comprising more than 1/3 of the workforce in some industries
  • The laws being overturned here are actually pretty new: they were passed in 2006, but they obviously still don’t have any affect on undocumented people coming to the state so all they do is increase cruelty—instead of getting housing benefits people are homeless, instead of getting food assistance people and children starve, instead of getting health benefits people and children go without care
  • Removing lawful presence requirements for licensure are not novel, multiple other states already operate like this including “red” states like Nebraska and Indiana, because it is frankly irrelevant to whether or not someone can do the job and even worse, it pushes people to work without a license which lowers public safety
  • We have massive educator shortfalls in the state, including in early childhood care, so clearly we aren’t meeting our state’s needs in at least one profession
  • It is not the job of the state or local governments to be the immigration police

In Further Detail: There are an estimated 162,000 undocumented people in the state, as well as an estimated 140,000 children who are US citizens in this state with at least one parent who is undocumented. These people are also some of the most vulnerable members of our society and are overrepresented in industries hit hardest by COVID. They are valuable members of our society, people who were not citizens paid over $150 million in state and local taxes in Colorado in 2018 (this also counts people here on legal visas). In some industries more than 1/3 of the workforce is comprised of undocumented people. Believe or not these laws are relatively new, they date back to 2006. Public benefit plans exist to help people who need it in our society, including children. These people are here, already, denying them the benefits won’t make them magically leave (have they since 2006?), it just makes it harder for them to contribute to our society and simply shuffles the impact around. Instead of getting public housing benefits people live on the streets. Instead of getting food assistance benefits people and children starve. Instead of getting public health benefits people and children leave conditions untreated until they require expensive emergency care. It is also not a novel, blue state idea to remove lawful residence requirements from licensing. Multiple other states have similar provisions, including “red” states like Nebraska and Indiana. We have massive educator and child care shortages all over 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 with our kids away. This should be true of other professions as well. Someone who is willing to work, pay taxes, and contribute positively to the economy of our state should not be prevented from doing so. All of us benefit from quality workers being able to achieve economic success. It also lifts the ceiling on progress for students who do not have documentation. It is not the job of our regulatory agencies to serve as immigration police: they are there to ensure public safety. Immigration status has nothing to do with if someone can do the job. Furthermore, it will actually help keep the public safer, by bringing undocumented workers into the state licensure system rather than having them operate unlicensed.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • State taxpayer dollars should go to people who are not breaking the law, as anyone who is undocumented is actively doing
  • We do many things in the name of public safety for undocumented immigrants but making life more comfortable for them economically should not be one of them. Yes, there are long-term harms associated with things like lacking housing, but that’s true of a lot things, like simply being poor, and given limited resources we have to prioritize
  • It is also too far to try to make it so there is no difference between those here illegally and those here legally for the high-quality jobs that typically come with licensure
  • It is a federal crime to employ an undocumented person, so we aren’t likely to see school districts hiring these folks or some of the other professions where we have shortages

In Further Detail: When it comes to distributing state taxpayer dollars, that money should not go to people who are not obeying the law. Because anyone who is here illegally is breaking federal law to do so. They are jumping ahead of others waiting patiently to be Americans the right way, the legal way. It extremely important to note that someone who is not a US citizen but is in Colorado legally is obeying the law and is already eligible for housing assistance. There are many things we do for undocumented immigrants in the name of public safety, such as issuing a substitute for a driver’s license, but making life more comfortable economically for them should not be one. Yes, there are long-term harms associated with lacking housing but there are long-term harms associated with a lot of things, like simply being poor, and with as many problems as we have with affordable housing in the state we cannot afford to simply give out housing assistance to everyone. It is also far different to try to make it so there is no difference between those here illegally and those here legally for the high-quality jobs that come with licensure or registration requirements. Furthermore, it is a federal crime to employ an undocumented immigrant. All employers are supposed to fill out the I9 form proving their employees are here legally. So despite the bill’s attempt to claim the state has the power to do this, it would in fact be committing criminal behavior for any school district to hire someone who cannot prove they are in this country legally. Finally, the more benefits we provide to undocumented people in Colorado the more attractive our state becomes for new undocumented people.


Bottom Line:

  • We got some conflict here with SB077 and some duplication with HB1054 (which allows for just public housing benefits for undocumented people). Either those bills need to die and this become the vehicle for these changes or this bill has to die and those bills need to be the vehicles

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-199

SB21-280 Bias-motivated Crimes (Fields (D), Cooke (R)) [Weissman (D), Soper (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate (back to where it began though)

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Clarifies that for harassment to qualify as a bias-motivated crime, the bias-motivation only needs to be part of the defendant’s motivation (not the entire basis). Makes the crime a victim’s rights act crime, which provides extra protections for the victim and involves them more in the post-conviction process.

Description:

Clarifies that for harassment to qualify as a bias-motivated crime, the bias-motivation only needs to be part of the defendant’s motivation (not the entire basis). Makes the crime a victim’s rights act crime, which provides extra protections for the victim to be notified of and involved in post-conviction proceedings and decisions and frequently exempts the crime for consideration for early release or other criminal justice measures (those bill will often entirely exempt victim’s rights crimes from their provisions).

Creates a preventing violence targeted training program to prevent violence targeted toward specific groups or individuals through community engagement and citizen involvement, identify best practices for preventing targeted violence and share these with all levels of government and first responders and health care providers and civic institutions (including faith-based institutions), and coordinate targeted prevention efforts among all of those groups.

Grant receipients are to use funds for providing threat assessments and training programs, which can include curricula, videos, digital and print materials, and seminars. The bill seems to have an organization in mind for these grants, as the minimum requirements are: provide threat assessment and threat management services related to preventing targeted violence; experienced in developing and providing training programs; experienced in working with state agencies, local governments, first responders, and civic and community organizations; and have official designation from the federal department of homeland security.

No money is appropriated to the grant program

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Harassment based on discrimination is tailor-made for victim’s rights crimes, which are at their core designed to ensure that in these cases decisions aren’t made about the perpetrator without input from the victim. In fact, bias-motivated crimes are already victim’s rights crimes when someone is injured or property is damaged, so this is a natural extension. We all know that harassment can easily escalate into something even worse and victims have the right to be heard. As for the other part of the bill, it is just common sense that we not require the harassment to be entirely due to discrimination
  • Hate-based violence is hard to tackle, but there part of what we must do is based in communities, which is what the grant program the bill creates is aiming for

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-280