(March 20) – House Democrats held fast today as the body gave voice-vote approval to reauthorize the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the commission that oversees it, beating back yet another Republican effort to weaken the agency.
HB18-1256, sponsored by Speaker Crisanta Duran and Rep. Leslie Herod, reauthorizes and funds 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.
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.”
House Republicans tried to amend the “clean” reauthorization by stacking the Civil Rights Commission, which defends minorities and small businesses, with lawyers and representatives of big business.
“The Colorado Civil Rights Division has a long and effective history in Colorado,” Rep. Herod, D-Denver, told the House. “If it’s not broke, why fix it?”
“This stacks the deck against people who cannot even get to the table,” Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, said of the Republican amendment.
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, prompting widespread protest. 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.