These are all of the legal system 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

MAJOR

SB21-073 Civil Action Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault

MEDIUM

MINOR+

SB21-017 Sexual Contact By An Educator

MINOR

TECHNICAL

HB21-1022 Surrogacy Agreements (Ginal (D)) [Froelich (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Set requirements for surrogacy agreements for both sides, including age restrictions, health exams, and that the birth mother must have previously given birth, and specify the intended parents are the legal parents of the resulting children. Modernize state laws around surrogacy.

Description:

Replaces assisted reproduction elements of existing Uniform Parentage Act and replaces it with new requirements for surrogacy agreements. Identifies the biological mother (who provided the egg) as the child’s legal parent rather than the gestational mother. Specifies that donors have no parental rights. Surrogates must be at least 21 and must have given birth to at least one child. They must have completed both a physical and mental health evaluation given by licensed professionals and they must have their own legal representation. Each intended parent must meet the same requirements, minus having previously given birth of course. Agreement must be notarized and include information on how intended parents will cover health costs of surrogate. Must allow surrogate to make all her own medical decisions, including terminating the pregnancy. Intended parents assume responsibility for all children born out of the agreement. An individual who consents to assisted reproduction with the intent to be a parent of the child conceived is a parent. This includes if this individual dies between the procedure and the birth of the child. Allows for a party to get a judge to enforce all of the parental rules around surrogacy and donors if necessary. If a child was conceived under a surrogacy agreement that does not conform to this law the judge is given latitude to determine the rights and duties of the parties at the time of the execution of the agreement.

Additional Information:

To enter into an agreement, at least one parent must reside in the state or the birth must be anticipated to occur in the state or the assisted reproduction procedure must take place in the state.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Our surrogacy and donor related pregnancy laws need updating to protect all parties involved
  • This is based upon the revised 2017 Uniform Parentage Act from the uniform law commission, so it a standardized approach used in other states as well

In Further Detail:

The current version of our state law does not provide adequate protections for surrogacy or donor related medically assisted pregnancies. This bill is designed to protect the surrogate and the intended parents through a legal contract that specifies all of their rights and responsibilities. It is also designed to ensure that both parties are old enough and healthy enough to undergo the experience. Finally it definitely states who the legal parents are (and are not) as well as providing some legal guidelines.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1022

HB21-1031 Jurisdiction To Modify Family Law Orders On Appeal (Lee (D), Gardner (R)) [Daugherty (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Reverse the effects of a 2020 state supreme court decision that held that courts do not have jurisdiction to modify parenting time or decision-making orders for changed circumstances when there is a pending appeal in the case.

Description:

In essence this reverts back to practice before the 2020 court decision In re: The Parental Responsibilities Concerning W.C. which held courts lacked the statutory authority to make these changes during a pending appeal. They include: modify child support or maintenance orders, make or modify an order granting or denying parenting time rights, modify an order allocating decision-time responsibilities, exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction, and modify an order concerning allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.

Basically if a court makes a ruling and one parent appeals the ruling and then, while the appeal is pending, files motions to modify the original ruling based on changed circumstances, can the court rule on the new motions? Before the 2020 case the answer was yes.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This restores a status quo that was working just fine and fits with the court’s finding that absent statutory authority, a court cannot rule on a motion to modify an order that is being appealed. So with statutory authority, courts can do this
  • The reason for allowing this is that circumstances surrounding children change rapidly and the best interests of the child must come first. Waiting for an appeal to finish before being able to alter the circumstances may not be in the best interests of the child
  • The court and the arguments against are imaging a world of confusion that simply did not exist. We know this because this was the system in place and it was working fine

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The court also found practical reasons to make this ruling. Under the old system (and this bill), you essentially have dueling courts. The original court is considering changes to the ruling it made that another court is considering on appeal. The appeals court may be wasting its time if the trial court’s original ruling is moot. The trial court may be wasting its time on a ruling the appeals court is going to overturn. And if the court of appeals affirms an order the trial court has already modified, which order gets followed?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1031

HB21-1039 Careless Driving Serious Bodily Injury [Larson (R), Titone (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal:

  • Make crime of seriously injuring or killing someone while driving in careless manner apply to anyone injured or killed, not just a vulnerable individual.

Description:

It is a class 1 misdemeanor, 12 point license violation, automatic yearly suspension of license, and requirement to attend driver improvement school for a conviction of seriously injuring or killing a vulnerable individual while driving in a careless manner. Current law for seriously injuring or killing someone while driving in a careless manner when the person is not an vulnerable individual is also a class 1 misdemeanor, but no automatic suspension or requirement to attend driver school.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • It should not matter if the person who was hurt was vulnerable or not, we need to get drivers who are this careless off the streets and into training to prevent future tragedies

In Further Detail: It shouldn’t matter if the individual hurt was vulnerable or not, the key problem is the same: someone driving in a careless manner causing serious injury. That individual needs to be off the streets in the same way as someone who injuries a vulnerable person. The key here is the automatic license suspension and mandatory driver school. We obviously cannot go back in time to prevent the tragedy but we can try to stop another one from occurring.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Current penalties for this crime are largely similar to what the bill proposes. It is overboard to remove a license for a year and force attendance at driver school

In Further Detail:

We already have laws to deal with seriously injuring or killing someone with your car (causing bodily harm while carelessly driving is already a class 1 misdemeanor and already applies to injuring anyone). This is all about overly punishing a driver who made an honest mistake and like most people, will think about that mistake more often than any driver improvement school could ever make them.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1039

HB21-1091 Sentencing Juveniles Transferred To Adult Court (Buckner (D)) [Daugherty (D), Lynch (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Align state laws around juveniles convicted as an adult so that they are not subject to mandatory minimum sentencing.

Description:

Currently it depends on how the case proceeds. If the juvenile is charged first in juvenile court and then has it transferred, they are subject to mandatory minimums. If the juvenile is charged first as an adult, then they are not. The mandatory minimum exception does not apply to class 1 felonies or more serious sex related offenses.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is about aligning our laws. We’ve recognized that even when we decide we must try juveniles as adults they are still juveniles and some flexibility in sentencing should apply, except for the most severe cases. So it shouldn’t matter how the case got into the adult court system

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1091

SB21-017 Sexual Contact By An Educator (Hisey (R))

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Extend crime of sexual assault upon a student to cover those who are 18 but still in high school.

Description:

Extends the crime of sexual assault upon a student to cover those who are over 18 but still in high school and names this offense abuse of public trust by an educator. Unlike the law for those 15-18, it is a class 1 misdemeanor with enhanced sentencing guidelines. Consent is not a defense. Teacher must be at least four years older and not married to the student.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This closes a bit of a loophole, because someone who is 18 is legally an adult but if they are still in high school they have every bit the same dynamic with a teacher as someone who is 17, including all of the power dynamics and authority, which makes it impossible for the 18 year-old to legally consent to sexual activity with a high-school teacher. But we also recognize that this not the same level as the same activity with a minor, so the possible punishment is less.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The bottom line is that someone who is 18 is an adult. That is where we have decided to draw the line. This means we believe they are capable of a great many things someone who is 17 is not, and that includes consent to sexual activity. The fact that they are still in school doesn’t change this.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-017

SB21-073 Civil Action Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault (Danielson (D), Coram (R)) [Michaelson Jenet (D), Soper (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Remove all statutes of limitation for civil charges based on sexual offenses against children, including against people or entities that were not the perpetrators.

Description:

Removes the current six-year statute of limitations on bringing civil charges based on sexual offenses against children which begins when they turn 18 (previously child had to have a disability or be in a special relationship with perpetrator to pause time limit). This only applies to cases where the statute of limitations has not already run out (and future cases of course). Expands the statute of limitations provisions of civil action in this section to allow suit against people or entities that were not the perpetrator of the assault. Removes requirement that a plaintiff who is a victim of multiple sexual assaults establish which act in the series caused their injuries. Removes the limitation on damages to just medical expenses and legal fees if the plaintiff waits until 15 years or more after turning 18 to file suit. Removes requirement that action cannot be brought if the defendant is deceased or incapacitated. Removes the limited waiver of doctor-patient privilege and medical information that previously occurred when such lawsuits are filed that allowed the doctor or psychologist who treated the individual to be called as a witness. Bill also redefines sexual assault to mimic other sections of statute.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • There is no statute of limitations for criminal cases of sexual assault against a child because it can take decades for the victim to be ready to come forward, so it does not make sense to have one for civil cases
  • Gross institutional conduct should also be brought to justice, such as the Catholic Church knowingly ignoring what was happening some of their parishes
  • Filing a lawsuit should not automatically waive all of your privacy privileges

In Further Detail: There is no statute of limitations for criminal cases of sexual assault against a child because we recognize that these crimes are among the most difficult for a victim to come forward, to be believed, and to be willing to take action. It can take decades for all of this to occur for extremely understandable reasons. The median age of when survivors come forward is in their 40s. So it does not make sense to limit civil liability to six years. This is particularly true when gross organizational misconduct occurs, such as the Catholic Church shuttling known abusers from parish to parish. Victims must be given the right to full compensation and there must be full accountability. We cannot make this law retroactive (to include those where the statute of limitations has already run out) for two reasons. First, it might be unconstitutional under the Colorado constitution and it would put the whole law at risk, and second, we need to enshrine protections for victims now and that may not be possible if we try to also make the law retroactive. A separate attempt can be brought to make this retroactive while we protect all victims going forward and is fact being done with SB088. As for worrying about entities facing massive financial difficulties due to culpability: yes, that’s the point.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Burden of proof is lower in civil cases than in criminal cases—and with events occurring so far in the past that can really matter
  • This could destroy some institutions, including public entities, that do large amounts of public good
  • Other states have chosen to have some sort of time limit, even if it is far into the future

In Further Detail: The burden of proof is lower in civil cases than in criminal ones and when we are dealing with crimes that allegedly occurred decades in the past that starts to really matter. Evidence could be gone, witnesses could be gone, and memories can be quite sketchy. Furthermore, this opens up the door to massive on-going litigation against entities, potentially including public entities, which could gum up our legal system and place enormous financial difficulties onto entities that do large amounts of public good, like the Church or education districts. There should be some sort of time limit, even if it is extended far into the future. Other states have picked specific ages, like 40 in California or 55 in New Jersey. We should do that at a minimum as well.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-073