JOINT RELEASE: Historic Legislative Session Concludes

General Assembly passes Colorado Comeback stimulus plan, historic transportation package & bills to reduce the cost of health care and prescription drugs

DENVER, CO – House and Senate leadership tonight released the following statements after the gavels fell on the historic First Session of the 73rd General Assembly. 

“This was an ambitious and historic session,” said Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “From the very beginning, we were clear about what we set out to do, and we delivered on our promises. Democrats demonstrated that we have earned the trust Coloradans put in us to govern responsibly. Sometimes, history makes us. This year, we made history.”

 “There is no doubt that this last year was marred by tragedy, but it was also marked by triumph,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “Rather than succumb to the weight of a pandemic and economic recession, we used all of our resources to not only persevere but build back stronger than we were before. From transformational infrastructure investments to landmark stimulus policies, we used this session as an opportunity to take on the big challenges and make generational change. I am incredibly proud of what we were able to accomplish and I can’t wait to see our work in action.”

“This session will be remembered for decades as one of the most ambitious and productive in recent memory,” said House Majority Leader, D-Pueblo. “We made investments and reforms that will create a more prosperous Colorado for working families for decades to come. As I go home to Pueblo to welcome the newest member of my family, I’ll go home knowing that the work we did this session will make life better for my future child, and for Coloradans of every background across the state.”

“After an unprecedented year in Colorado, we returned to the Capitol with an ambitious to-do list. I’m so proud to celebrate each and every accomplishment coming out of this session – and they are many,” said Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “From immediate small business relief and housing assistance, to landmark transportation legislation and gun violence prevention measures, we were truly responsive to both today’s needs and tomorrow’s prosperity. The hard work from Democrats over the past few months has resulted in one of the most productive and consequential legislative sessions in recent memory.”

Revitalizing Our Economy, Delivering Urgent Relief, Forging a More Prosperous Future for Coloradans 

In the midst of a global pandemic and challenging year that has severely impacted the lives of Coloradans, Democrats came together to not only deliver urgent relief to struggling Coloradans but build our state back stronger. By focusing on revitalizing our economy, delivering urgent relief, and forging a more prosperous future for all Coloradans, the legislature was able to deliver on promises that were years in the making – passing transformational legislation that will pave the way for a Colorado where everyone can thrive. This was accomplished by putting people over politics and working across the aisle to accomplish great things, resulting in 91% of our passed legislation receiving bipartisan support.

In order to recover faster and build back stronger, lawmakers prioritized addressing our most pressing challenges head-on. This meant developing a bipartisan state stimulus package to foster the Colorado Comeback, making monumental investments to strengthen small businesses, supporting Colorado families, investing in rural Colorado, and developing our workforce. 

Specifically, lawmakers passed bills to create a $30 million startup loan fund for businesses across the state, provide $15 million in grants to small businesses, and invested $22 million to support artists and arts and culture organizations. We also championed legislation that will provide more than $100 million to increase child care capacity and affordability, create a $30 million loan and grant program for Colorado’s agricultural sector, add $5 million to the Rural Economic Development Initiative, and allocate $25 million in funding for upskilling and reskilling our state’s workforce. 

In addition to passing state stimulus policies, state leaders worked collaboratively to enact Colorado’s roadmap to Building Back Stronger – embarking on a statewide listening tour to gather input on how to allocate nearly $4 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. The resulting legislation immediately deployed hundreds of millions of dollars to make housing more affordable, provide emergency behavioral health services and help workers complete degree or skills-training programs. The roadmap also dedicated $1.3 billion in federal funds to protect critical state services in future years and set aside nearly $1.8 billion for future transformational investments in housing, behavioral health, and workforce development that will be crafted through bipartisan interim processes. 

Beyond tackling urgent needs and enacting once-in-a-generation stimulative plans, lawmakers prioritized addressing longstanding issues that have burdened Colorado for decades. One such issue is the inaccessibility and unaffordability of health care. With skyrocketing health care costs and limited options, lawmakers crafted legislation to implement the Colorado Option, a policy that is set to save Coloradans 15 percent on their insurance premiums and create a guaranteed plan for consumers. Lawmakers also passed the Prescription Drug Affordability Advisory Board, which will reduce the cost of prescription drugs and ensure that no Coloradan is forced to forgo life-saving medication. 

Another long-standing issue that has held Colorado’s economy back for decades is transportation. After booming population growth yet stagnant funding, Colorado’s infrastructure is in desperate need of significant repair and modernization. That’s why the 73rd General Assembly prioritized passing a groundbreaking transportation plan – finally ending the deadlock that has plagued our state for years. Supported by a large, bipartisan coalition, this historic legislation will help connect people and goods from all corners of the state, ensure our economy can compete on the national stage, and allow Coloradans to get where they’re going faster and more safely. 

Sadly, the legislature was also confronted with the all-too-familiar issue of gun violence during the legislative session. After 10 people lost their lives in the Boulder King Sooper shooting, Democratic lawmakers crafted and passed three measures designed to curb the gun violence epidemic in our state. These policies together will save lives by expanding background checks, closing loopholes, and giving local governments the tools they need to craft community-based solutions to gun violence. The three bills passed in addition to three other measures that address firearm safety including safe storage, lost and stolen reporting, and protecting domestic violence survivors from gun violence.

In 2021 General Assembly Democrats rose to the occasion and championed policies that will not only support people in the aftermath of the pandemic but pave a hopeful path forward by creating a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous Colorado for all. 

Revitalizing our economy: 

Thanks to the swift and bold action of our federal delegation, Colorado was afforded a once-in-a-generation opportunity to jumpstart our struggling economy and strengthen our recovery. From rebuilding our workforce by giving Coloradans the tools they need to fill good-paying jobs, to investing in up-and-coming businesses and revitalizing mainstreets we have delivered on our promise to help Colorado recover faster and build back stronger. 

Strengthening small businesses and community centers: 

HB21-1288— Colorado Startup Loan Program** 

SB21-241— Small Business Accelerated Growth Program** 

HB21-1302–– Continue COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program** 

HB21-1265— Qualified Retailer Retain Sales Tax For Assistance**

HB21-1312— Increase to Business Personal Property Tax Exemption** 

SB21-252— Community Revitalization Grant Program**

HB21-1263— Meeting And Events Incentive Program**

SB21-110— Fund Safe Revitalization Of Main Streets**

Investing in rural Colorado and agriculture: 

SB21-203— Funding For Colorado Proud**

SB21-204— Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant Program Funding**

SB21-229— Rural Jump-start Zone Grant Program**

SB21-248— Loan Program For Colorado Agriculture** 

SB21-234— General Fund Transfer Agriculture And Drought Resiliency**

SB21-235— Stimulus Funding Department Of Agriculture Efficiency Programs** 

HB21-1290— Additional Funding For Just Transition** 

Developing our workforce: 

HB21-1264— Funds Workforce Development Increase Worker Skills**

HB21-1270— SNAP workforce** 

HB21-1330— Higher Education Student Success** 

SB21-232— Displaced Workers Grant** 

HB21-1149— Energy Sector Career Pathway In Higher Education**

HB21-1007— State Apprenticeship Agency

HB21-1215–– Business Training for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals**

Stock Show, State Fair, Agriculture Fairs and Events, Arts and Creative Industries: 

HB21-1262— Money Support Agricultural Events Organization** 

HB21-1285— Funding To Support Creative Arts Industries**

Delivering urgent relief:  

With sky-high unemployment, social isolation, and prolonged uncertainty, too many Coloradans were being crushed under the weight of the pandemic. That’s why we prioritized providing direct relief to struggling families – allocating funds for housing, childcare, and food assistance efforts; and bolstering mental and behavioral healthcare services. 

K-12 and Higher Education: 

2021 School Finance Act: The 2021 school finance act increases total program funding by $750.8 million. Per pupil funding for the 2021-2022 school year will be $8,991, an increase of $868 (10.7 percent) over the current school year. 

This year’s School Finance Act restores the Budget Stabilization Factor to where it was before the devastation of the pandemic. By reducing the Budget Stabilization Factor, each school district in Colorado will see a fair and equal, per-pupil increase to the state share of total program funding they receive. 

The School Finance Act also restores funding to grant programs that were cut last year. These grant programs offer a number of critical services such as dropout prevention, literacy attainment, access to advanced placement courses, special education, bullying prevention and behavioral health support.

2021-2022 State Budget: The Long Appropriations bill resumes state support for institutions of higher education, increasing funding by $494 million over last year’s budget. 

The budget invests $160 Million in School Infrastructure (BEST) to construct, renovate, or maintain school facilities and structures and directs an additional $100 Million for the State Education Fund (SEF), which funds teacher recruitment, full-day kindergarten, early literacy programs, and helps finance public school systems across Colorado. 

Supporting Colorado families and youth: 

SB21-236— Increase Capacity Early Childhood Care & Education** 

SB21-027— Emergency Supplies For Colorado Babies And Families**

SB21-202–– Funding Public School Air Quality Projects**

HB21-1311— Boosting Colorado Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit HB21-1161— Suspend Statewide Assessments For Select Grades

HB21-1259–– Extended Learning Opportunities

SB21-013–– Reversing COVID-related Learning Loss 

HB21-1234–– Supplemental Education High-impact Tutoring Programs**

SB21-053— Adjustments To School Funding Fiscal Year 2020-21

SB21-292— Federal COVID Funding For Victim’s Services**

Helping Coloradans avoid eviction and making housing more affordable: 

HB21-1271— Department Of Local Affairs Innovative Affordable Housing Strategies** HB21-1329— American Rescue Plan Act Money To Invest Affordable Housing** 

HB21-1117–– Local Government Authority Promote Affordable Housing Units

HB21-1054–– Housing Public Benefit Verification Requirement

SB21-173— Rights In Residential Lease Agreements 

SB21-242— Housing Development Grants Hotels Tenancy Support Program** 

HB21-1121— Residential Tenancy Procedures 

HB21-1274— Unused State-owned Real Property Beneficial Use

Increasing access to mental health care: 

HB21-1258— Rapid Mental Health Response For Colorado Youth** 

SB21-137— Behavioral Health Recovery Act** 

SB21-239— 2-1-1 Statewide Human Services Referral System** 

HB21-1119— Suicide Prevention, Intervention, & Postvention 

HB21-1068— Insurance Coverage Mental Health Wellness Exam

HB21-1281— Community Behavioral Health Disaster Program 

Protecting communities from wildfire

SB21-258— Wildfire Risk Mitigation**

SB21-240— Watershed Restoration Grant Program Stimulus**

HB21-1260–– Funding for the State Water Plan**

HB21-1208— Natural Disaster Mitigation Enterprise**

SB21-054— Transfers For Wildfire Mitigation And Response

SB21-113— Firefighting Aircraft Wildfire Mgmt And Response**

HB21-1008— Forest Health Project Financing

Supporting Colorado’s Veterans

HB21-1065— Veterans’ Hiring Preference

SB21-129— Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot Program

SB21-032— Mobile Veterans-support Unit Grant Program

Forging a more prosperous future for Coloradans: 

This pandemic has taken a serious toll on our lives and our livelihoods, but Coloradans are resilient and we used this as an opportunity to not only recover, but build back stronger. That’s why we passed transformational policies increasing access to affordable healthcare, investing in the sustainability of our transportation system, reforming our justice system, and protecting our environment for generations to come. The legislature set aside over $1 billion to fortify the state’s budget and created a responsible process to hear from experts on the most effective way to allocate nearly $1 billion in funding toward mental health, housing, workforce development, and the long-term resilience of Colorado’s economy. 

Improving Colorado’s transportation and infrastructure: 

SB21-260— Sustainability Of The Transportation System 

SB21-238— Create Front Range Passenger Rail District

HB21-1186— Regional Transportation District Operation

HB21-1289— Funding For Broadband Deployment

Reducing the cost of health care and prescription drugs, improving access to care and addressing health disparities: 

HB21-1232— Standardized Health Benefit Plan Colorado Option; 

SB21-175— Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board 

HB21-1097— Establish Behavioral Health Administration; 

SB21-123–– Expand Canadian Rx Import Program

SB21-009–– Reproductive Health Care Program

SB21-194— Maternal Health Providers 

SB21-193— Protection Of Pregnant People In Perinatal Period

SB21-016–– Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage

Providing a high quality education to all students: 

HB21-1325— Funding Public Schools Formula 

HB21-1304— Early Childhood System 

SB21-185— Supporting Educator Workforce In Colorado 

HB21-1173— Prohibiting Legacy Preferences In Higher Ed Insts

HB21-1067— College Admission Use Of National Test Score

Advancing Justice in Colorado Communities: 

HB21-1315— Costs Assessed To Juveniles In The Criminal Justice System 

HB21-1314— Department Of Revenue Action Against Certain Documents 

HB21-1280— Pre-trial Detention Reform 

SB21-271— Misdemeanor Reform 

HB21-1214— Record Sealing Collateral Consequences Reduction 

HB21-1250— Measures to Address Law Enforcement Accountability 

HB21-1251— Appropriate Use Of Chemical Restraints On A Person

HB21-1122— First Responder Interactions Persons With Disabilities

SB21-087–– Agricultural Workers’ Rights

Protecting Communities

SB21-073— Civil Action Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault

HB21-1298— Expand Firearm Transfer Background Check Requirements 

HB21-1299— Office Of Gun Violence Prevention

SB21-256— Local Regulation Of Firearms

SB21-078— Lost Or Stolen Firearms (Isabella Joy Thallas Act)

HB21-1106— Safe Storage Of Firearms

HB21-1255— Protection Order Issued Against Domestic Abuser

HB21-1165— Assistance For Victims Of Strangulation

HB21-1143— Protect Survivors’ Rights To Rape Kit Evidence

HB21-1107— Protections For Public Health Department Workers

HB21-1110— Colorado Laws For Persons With Disabilities

Protecting our clean air and water, and addressing climate change: 

SB21-264— Adopt Programs Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Utilities

SB21-230–– Financing Clean Energy Projects 

SB21-231–– Funding for Weatherization Assistance

HB21-1266— Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Community 

HB21-1238— Public Utilities Commission Modernize Gas Utility 

HB21-1286— Energy Performance For Buildings

HB21-1253— Renewable And Clean Energy Project Grants**

HB21-1189— Regulate Air Toxics

Responsibly Allocating Federal Stimulus Funds

SB21-288— American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Cash Fund

SB21-289— Revenue Loss Restoration Cash Fund

SB21-291— Economic Recovery And Relief Cash Fund

Improving Colorado’s Elections

HB21-1011— Multilingual Ballot Access For Voters

HB21-1071— Ranked Choice Voting In Nonpartisan ElectionsSB21-250— Elections And Voting

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