These are all of the water and agriculture 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.

House

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

MEGA

MAJOR

MEDIUM

MINOR+

MINOR

HB21-1043 Study Underground Water Storage Maximum Beneficial Use

TECHNICAL

Senate

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

MEGA

MAJOR

MEDIUM

MINOR+

SB21-079 Deregulate Meat Sales Direct To Consumers

MINOR

TECHNICAL

HB21-1043 Study Underground Water Storage Maximum Beneficial Use (Sonnenberg (R)) [Holtorf (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: $155,000 to do study

Goal:

  • Study storing water underground in the state with excess water we are currently delivering to other states beyond our contractual obligations.

Description:

Directs the water conservation board to partner with the state engineer and an institution of higher education to study ways to maximize use of water within Colorado by: storing water underground when surplus or excess water is available and minimize the amount that flows out of Colorado to downstream states without breaking any laws, pacts, water rights, prior appropriation system, or the state’s anti-speculation doctrine. Must also identify specific aquifers that are hydrologically and legally available for underground storage, sources of revenue to pay for that storage, and particular potential or existing storage projects. This should include the role various water entities could play in financing and implementing the projects and any regulatory or legislative changes needed. Areas with high water tables where increases in underground storage might result in damage must not be considered. Report due August 2022.

Water entities that could play a role include: raw water and drinking water suppliers, water authorities, water conservation districts, water conservancy districts, and groundwater management districts.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2023

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We need more water storage to meet our state’s water plan to ensure we have enough water to keep up with growth in the state
  • We are sending water out of the state beyond what is legally required every year, so it makes sense to study ways to keep water we are entitled to here in Colorado

In Further Detail: Increasing water storage is a critical element of our massive state water plan, which is designed to ensure we have enough water to keep up with our needs as the state continues to grow. Although we have water shortages in almost every part of the state during parts of most years, we also have large quantities of water flowing out of the state. This happens in excess of what is legally required by various federal laws and state compacts almost every year, specifically with the South Platte River and water going to Nebraska. We should therefore be able to legally use that excess water to recharge our own aquifers and river basins, which would allow us access to more water during times of water shortages. This is just a study to see how feasible this would be, what aquifers could use the excess water, and what regulatory and legislative changes would be required.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • There are other ways to address this, particularly since we are basically talking about one river. Officials are already planning to build massive reservoirs northeast of Denver to hold more of that Platte River water in the state. If those plans goes forward, then there is no excess water to hold back in Colorado and entire point of this study is moot.
  • There are also multiple other similar studies that were either recently completed or on-going that deal with aspects of this, but in particular do deal with the South Platte River

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1043

SB21-079 Deregulate Meat Sales Direct To Consumers (Sonnenberg (R)) [Pelton (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Allow people to sell animal meat without needing any USDA inspection if they raised and slaughtered it themselves and if they are selling directly to an end consumer who is notified the animal was not inspected
  • Allow purchase of animal shares (dibs on part of the meat) for livestock
  • Limit brand inspections for the purchase of shares of a live animal to just once before slaughter even if it has multiple people purchasing shares

Description:

Exempts sale of animal shares (dibs essentially on the meet) or animal meat from USDA inspection if the sale is direct to the consumer, that consumer is notified that the animal or meat was not inspected by the USDA, and the sale is only done in Colorado with no interstate commerce involved. For meat, rabbits and fish can be sold in this manner. The rest must be done in animal shares (so before the animal is killed): cattle, calves, sheep, poultrybison, goats, and hogs. In both cases the animal must be raised by the person selling it. For meat, they must also have killed and butchered the animal themselves. For animal shares, they may use a commercial butcher and may have the meat processed to make value-added products such as sausage or jerky. Ranchers who sell their meat or shares under this bill are not liable for inadequately cooked or prepared meat.

The bill also limits the brand inspection of livestock sold in shares (again, dibs) to once, immediately before slaughter. Brand inspection is done to ensure proper ownership, that is to say that the animal in question is who the seller claims it is.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Consumers have the ability to decide themselves if they want to purchase meat in this manner and the commercial plants are inspected by state regulators so they are safe. Frankly this is already happening now
  • Small-scale ranchers can avoid costly and burdensome regulation and provides full provenance for consumers who don’t know where the meat in the store comes from and may want to support local ranchers
  • We don’t need 10 different brand inspections for 10 different shares of the same animal

In Further Detail: This is about providing our small-scale ranchers and their consumers the ability to avoid costly and burdensome regulation. When we know for sure that a rancher has raised, killed, and butchered an animal themselves, many of the concerns we have about animal safety can be mitigated. That only applies to fish and rabbits. For the rest, these are done at commercial plans that are inspected by the state to ensure cleanliness and safety. They do not have the USDA stamp of approval, so they can’t be sold at retail, but they are inspected plants. Quite frankly, the processes this bill puts into law are basically being done right now all over the state and it isn’t totally clear that it is illegal. And the ultimate choice rests with the consumer: if they do not want to purchase non-USDA meat, then they don’t have to. They will be told in advance, so no one will buy the meat unknowingly. And they will know exactly where the meat came from, unlike if you buy it at the store. If it turns out that a rancher has dangerous or unclean facilities, that will come out into public knowledge and they are not immune from the consequences. Other states have similar laws in effect and it works just fine. When it comes to brand inspections, again the key point here is that before the animal is actually killed we establish proper chain of ownership and that the animal is in fact who the owners say it is. That is proper and necessary. What we don’t need is multiple inspections of the same animal for multiple share owners.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a dangerous exemption to inspection and may make the public less safe
  • There is nothing special about ranchers that raise their own meat which makes them immune from the dangers of uninspected facilities

In Further Detail: This is dangerous to consumers when it comes to the meat slaughtered by the rancher. There is nothing special about individual ranchers that makes them immune to all of the dangers of raising livestock for human consumption. We rightly recognize that it is too dangerous to public safety to simply allow meat to be sold without any inspection at all of the facilities the animal lives in or that it is slaughtered in or that it is butchered in or that the meat is kept in. Consumers have no ability on their own to judge such things, especially since the bill does not invite or require them to see for themselves, but merely be told. So even though this is presented as a choice that consumers are free to reject, we don’t allow people to make that kind of choice all the time. We correctly regulate all sorts of items, recognizing that not only are people not equipped to decide this kind of thing for themselves, but that free choice must end at times when public safety is at risk. And public safety means protecting the public before harm occurs, not after. Note that the only products the bill permits to be handled in this matter are rabbits and fish.