DENVER, CO — Last session, House Democrats focused on passing bills to ensure all Coloradans can share in the economic growth the state is experiencing and to protect the Colorado way of life. Several of these important new laws that Democratic lawmakers championed last session take effect tomorrow.
“In 2019, we made great strides on efforts to build an economy that works for all and to protect our Colorado way of life,” said Speaker KC Becker (D-Boulder). “These critical bills will lower the cost of health care, help save lives from gun violence, increase workers’ wages and protect them from theft, and increase lobbying transparency. Working across the aisle, we made important progress to address the challenges facing Coloradans, and we look forward to building on this success in the upcoming session.”
LOWERING HEALTH CARE COSTS AND PROTECTING CONSUMERS:
Ending Surprise Medical Bills: Beginning on January 1, HB19-1174, sponsored by Reps. Esgar (D-Pueblo) and Catlin (R-Montrose), prohibits providers from billing for care when a consumer unknowingly receives out-of-network care through no fault of their own. Providers must also inform consumers of their rights regarding surprise out-of-network bills, and the bill sets a reasonable rate of payment for these bills.
Capping the Cost of Insulin: For insurance plans beginning January 1, HB19-1216, sponsored by Rep. Roberts (D-Avon), caps the total co-pay that patients are charged for insulin to $100 per one-month supply. This will save Coloradans living with diabetes who need insulin hundreds of dollars per month and means that no one in the state will have to choose between rationing insulin and meeting necessary household expenses.
INCREASING AND PROTECTING WAGES:
Preventing Wage Theft: HB19-1267, sponsored by Reps. Singer (D-Longmont) and Froelich (D-Englewood), makes it a felony criminal offense to illegally withhold wages from an employee. It is currently only a misdemeanor, and often prosecutors don’t go after offenders because the penalties are so low. Starting tomorrow, if more than $2,000 in wages are illegally withheld, it can be charged as felony theft.
SAVING LIVES FROM GUN VIOLENCE
The Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act, also known as Colorado’s “Red Flag” law, will go into effect tomorrow. “Red Flag” laws have overwhelming bipartisan support and save lives by creating a way to act before warning signs escalate to tragedies.The law is a tool to remove guns from a person who a judge determines is a threat to themselves or others. Colorado is suffering from a suicide epidemic, and preventing a person in crisis from accessing a firearm will save lives.
EXPANDING THE RIGHTS OF TRANSGENDER COLORADANS
Starting January 1, HB19-1039 will allow transgender Coloradans to change the gender on their birth certificate to male, female or X, to correspond with their gender identity. The new law provides Coloradans changing their birth certificates with an entirely new document without having to go through cumbersome and expensive hurdles like surgery or appearing in front of a judge. The law also removes the publication requirement, making the process safer and more private.
IMPROVING LOBBYIST TRANSPARENCY
Last session, Reps. Cutter (D-Jefferson County) and Weissman (D-Aurora) sponsored legislation to improve lobbying transparency. HB19-1248 requires more frequent reporting of important information provided by professional lobbyists and requires additional disclosure about who their ultimate clients are. Taking effect on January 1 is section 24-6-301 (6.5) of the Colorado Revised Statutes. This section creates the enhanced 72 hour reporting rules that will soon require lobbyists to disclose if they have undertaken lobbying or a new position in connection with a legislative or administration initiative. Lobbyists must disclose the bill number of the legislation on which they are lobbying and the client’s position (support, oppose, amending, or monitoring).
UPDATING MARIJUANA REGULATIONS
Updates to Colorado’s marijuana regulations also go into effect on January 1. These include allowing local ordinances to govern licensing timelines, allowing a license holder to continue to operate until a renewal application is processed, and streamlining the licensure process. It also makes certain formerly confidential information public, such as agency actions and some testing and license holder demographic data, on a de-identified basis. It facilitates investment and growth in the industry by creating new ownership definitions that will allow Colorado companies to thrive in the developing national and international legal cannabis marketplace.