New Laws Support Colorado’s Veterans

Bills to create a veterans suicide prevention program, veterans mobile support unit, veterans hiring preference, and rename Lincoln park to honor our veterans signed into law

DENVER, CO– Governor Polis today signed four bills to support veterans and make sure Colorado remains a great place to live for those who served our country. 

“One of my top priorities when coming to the legislature was to use my voice to ensure my brother and sister veterans are given the care and support they’ve earned,” said Rep. David Ortiz, D-Littleton, sponsor of HB21-1065, SB21-129 and SB21-032. “Today’s bill signing demonstrates the incredible progress we made this year, helping veterans find good jobs, preventing veteran suicides, and providing a lifeline for rural and homeless vets going through tough times. We have a world-premier, all-volunteer fighting force, and to keep it that way we need to be proactive about ensuring veterans can go on to thrive after their service.”

“Colorado is home to more than 400,000 veterans, and this year we worked hard to ensure Colorado remains a great place for veterans to live,” said Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, sponsor of HB21-1257. “Watching these four bills be signed today, I feel extremely proud of the legislative results we were able to deliver for veterans this session. While renaming a beautiful part of the Capitol grounds in honor of our veterans is only a small sign of our appreciation, it represents the legislature’s commitment to looking out for those who selflessly served our nation.”

HB21-1065 allows a private employer to give a preference to a veteran or the spouse of a veteran when hiring a new employee as long as the veteran or spouse is qualified for the job. To address higher rates of unemployment among post-9/11 veterans, the employer’s policy must apply to veterans who have been discharged in the last 10 years. Establishing a veterans hiring preference policy would be optional for employers. 

The bill includes safeguards against discrimination by still allowing a job applicant who is in a protected class to file a discrimination claim. This ensures that the bill will encourage the hiring of veterans without having unintended discriminatory impacts against women and people of color. Furthermore, the bill would offer businesses creating the hiring preference educational tools to help them navigate anti-discrimination laws so they can implement the policy fairly. 

SB21-129 will create a veteran suicide prevention pilot program in the Department of Human Services to reduce the suicide rate and suicidal ideation among veterans. The program would provide free, confidential behavioral health treatment for up to 700 veterans and their families. Services would be provided through agreements with nonprofit organizations. 

SB21-032 will provide funding to establish a mobile veterans support unit to serve as a point of contact for veterans in rural areas and those veterans experiencing homelessness. The unit will distribute supplies, transport veterans who do not have access to transportation services, and work with the Office of Economic Development to offer business and job opportunities to veterans. The bill provides funding for a veteran-owned or veteran-focused organization to purchase a vehicle and operate the program.

HB21-1257, also sponsored by Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, honors Colorado’s veterans by changing the name of Lincoln park and Liberty park in the Capitol complex to “Lincoln veterans’ memorial park”, and provides a small amount of funding to facilitate the name change.

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