(May 9) – After months of wrangling, Democrats finally secured a bipartisan, bicameral agreement tonight that preserves a strong and effective Colorado Civil Rights Division, which each year investigates hundreds of claims of discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation and other factors.
“I’m proud that we were able to achieve common ground and reauthorize a strong Civil Rights Division and Commission,” said Speaker Crisanta Duran, who sponsored HB18-1256 with Rep. Leslie Herod. “The solution coming forward is truly representative of what we can get accomplished in this building when we are able to sit down and problem–solve.”
Tonight, Senate Republicans finally accepted a Democratic compromise that would forbid a partisan majority on the seven-member Civil Rights Commission, rejecting a Republican proposal that would have created a commission appointed in a way that would have encouraged gridlock and inaction. The compromise involves limiting the number of major–party members on the commission, mandating that the commission include members from workers, small and large businesses and members of protected classes, and adding an audit provision.
“The compromise we achieved tonight means that the future of the Colorado Civil Rights Division is secured for years to come, and Coloradans will continue to have this critical resource to protect them against discrimination,” Rep. Herod said.
The bipartisan compromise comes after months of wrangling over the CCRD, starting with the agency’s funding being withheld from the budget before being added by Democrats in both the House and Senate, and attempts to change the commission in ways that could have concerning polarizing effects. Speaker Duran and Rep. Herod continued to press for a “clean” reauthorization with no changes, and worked with Democratic Sens. Daniel Kagan and Angela Williams to craft the compromise that was ultimately accepted.
The CCRD has been the agency charged with protecting Coloradans from discrimination since 1951.
The amended reauthorization bill passed the House 43-21 and is headed to the Governor’s desk.