Civil Rights Division Bill Passes House

(March 21) – House Democrats overcame a continuing Republican attack on the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the commission that oversees it when a bill to continue the agency passed the House today on a 36-26 vote.

HB18-1256, sponsored by Speaker Crisanta Duran and Rep. Leslie Herod, reauthorizes the CCRD, 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. Since 1951, it has been the agency charged with protecting Coloradans from discrimination.

Of the 28 Republican legislators, 26 voted in opposition to defending Coloradans’ civil rights. The no voters were Republican Reps. Jon Becker of Fort Morgan, Susan Beckman of Littleton, Perry Buck of Windsor, Terri Carver of Colorado Springs, Marc Catlin of Montrose, Phil Covarrubias of Brighton, Justin Everett of Littleton, Steve Humphrey of Eaton, Lois Landgraf of Fountain, Polly Lawrence of Roxborough Park, Tim Leonard of Evergreen, Kimmi Lewis of Kim, Larry Liston of Colorado Springs, Paul Lundeen of Monument, Hugh McKean of Loveland, Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, Bob Rankin of Carbondale, Kim Ransom of Littleton, Judy Reyher of Swink, Lori Saine of Firestone, Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs, Lang Sias of Arvada, Kevin Van Winkle of Highlands Ranch, Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction, Dave Williams of Colorado Springs and Jim Wilson of Salida.

“I’m very disappointed that our colleagues across the aisle refused to support this critical agency that protects the rights of Coloradans,” Speaker Duran said. “Their no votes send a terrible message to the people of our state.”

During second-reading debate on Tuesday, Speaker Duran cited a handful of examples in which CCRD intervention achieved fair outcomes for Coloradans – the disabled person turned down by a landlord, the employee fired for using a prescribed medication, the woman fired after announcing she was pregnant.

“These aren’t just talking points, these are real-life examples of the work that is accomplished every single day by the division and the commission,” she told the House. “We need to stand up for Coloradans, and we need to show that we are an inclusive state.”

“The Colorado Civil Rights Division has a long and effective history in Colorado,” Rep. Herod, D-Denver, told the House on Tuesday. “If it’s not broke, why fix it?”

The Republican attack on the CCRD began last month, when Republicans on the legislative Joint Budget Committee, which drafts the state budget, blocked funding for the CCRD. As a result, there is still no money allocated to the CCRD in the budget to allow the agency to continue operating past June 30.

The next stop for HB18-1256 is the Republican-controlled state Senate.

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