May 12, 2022

JOINT RELEASE: LEGISLATURE TACKLES AFFORDABILITY, CRIME, AND EDUCATION

Democrats faced Republican obstruction to laws that protect abortion rights and defend Colorado’s democracy


DENVER, CO – The Second Session of the 73rd General Assembly adjourned today with lawmakers passing legislation to save people and businesses money, build a safer and healthier Colorado, and prepare students for success. Democrats codified abortion rights and passed critical legislation to protect Colorado’s election systems from insider threats. The legislature also passed bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to combat the fentanyl crisis and save lives. Of the bills passed this session, 93 percent received bipartisan support on final passage.


“We came into this session focused on saving people money, improving public safety and preparing our students for success, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “We put money back into people’s pockets with early refund checks of at least $500 and $1000, established free universal preschool that will save families thousands, and we made transformational investments to build more homes and save people money on housing. Addressing one of the most pressing challenges our communities face, we passed bipartisan, comprehensive legislation on fentanyl that will deploy proven public health strategies and crack down on dealers to get this deadly poison off our streets and save lives. I am very proud of all we have accomplished for the people of Colorado.”

“Our work over the past 120 days has culminated in transformational progress for Colorado. In addition to making historic investments in Colorado’s behavioral health system and addressing the affordable housing crisis, we also tackled the existential problems facing our state,” said President Steve Fenberg D-Boulder. “We passed critical legislation to bolster wildfire mitigation and prevention efforts ahead of what could be the most dangerous wildfire season we’ve ever seen. Additionally, we are bringing down transportation and industrial emissions, cleaning up our air, and building a healthier and safer Colorado for all.”

“From saving people money on property taxes to creating affordable pathways for students to earn degrees, I’m so proud of what we were able to accomplish this session for Southern Colorado and communities across our state. We significantly increased funding for K-12 public schools that districts can use to raise teacher pay, reduce class sizes, and improve education outcomes for students,” said Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “We went into this session knowing we had to protect the right to an abortion, and with the Supreme Court on the cusp of ripping away rights we’ve had for over 50 years, I’m proud that we passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act to ensure abortion remains safe and legal in Colorado.”

“We started this legislative session with a once in a lifetime chance to transform the lives of Coloradans and meet the needs of our growing state,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, D–Commerce City. “This session, we passed policies to help Colorado recover from the pandemic and uplift our economy, support our working families, and help folks save money on everyday essentials like gas and groceries. We also made important strides to fix our broken behavioral health system to ensure Coloradans can access the care they need and deserve. I’m incredibly proud of the work we did this session to move our state forward and create lasting change that will benefit Colorado families for generations to come.” Saving People Money

Tax Relief and Cashback for Individuals and Families: Democrats passed legislation to save the average homeowner $274 on their property taxes (SB22-238); provide advanced tax refunds this summer to every Colorado resident (SB22-233); help families and workers take advantage of tax reforms to save $180 million this year through the expanded earned income tax credit and child tax credit (SB22-182); and save homeowners money on wildfire mitigation (HB22-1007).

Tax Relief for Businesses: Democrats are providing $700 million in property tax relief over the next two years for businesses and homeowners (SB22-238); eliminating fees to start your own business (HB22-1001); allowing restaurants to keep $40 million of the sales tax they collect (HB22-1406); making sales tax filing easier (SB22-006); and replenishing the unemployment insurance trust fund to save businesses money and protect this important assistance for workers (SB22-234).

Saving People Money on Housing: Democrats are saving Coloradans money on housing by investing $428 million in pandemic relief funds to preserve and construct new affordable housing. This funding will go toward loans to leverage private and local dollars to construct affordable homes; direct grants to nonprofits and local governments to build affordable homes; investments in middle-income housing; and innovative housing solutions such as modular homes. (HB22-1304, SB22-159, SB22-160, SB22-146, HB22-1282). Additionally, Democrats extended the Colorado Affordable Housing Tax Credit for an additional 7 years, providing $420 million in additional tax credits over the next decade (HB22-1051), fostered economic mobility among mobile home park residents (HB22-1287), and protected veterans and active military members from housing discrimination (HB22-1102).

Increasing Behavioral Health Care Access: Democrats passed legislation to expand access to behavioral health care and save people money on the treatment they need to support their health and well-being. This $450 million package expands access to critical services for adults, youth, and families; increases access to substance use disorder treatment; bolsters the behavioral health workforce; and adds desperately needed residential treatment beds. (HB22-1281, HB22-1303, HB22-1283, SB22-196, HB22-1302, SB22-147, SB22-148, SB22-181, SB22-177). Democrats also passed a landmark bill (HB22-1278) to streamline and improve access to Colorado’s behavioral health system.

Child Care and Free Universal Preschool: Democrats passed legislation this session to help child care providers save money and stay open (HB22-1006, SB22-213) and create free universal preschool for every Colorado family that will help parents get back to work and save families thousands of dollars (HB22-1295).

Democrats saved people money everywhere we could, including on:

Improving Public Safety and Preventing Crime

Community Safety Investment Act and Safer Streets Act: The Community Safety Investment Act (SB22-145) invests $30 million to implement proven public safety strategies like co-responder models, violence interrupter programs, and support for recruiting and training law enforcement who reflect the communities they serve. The Safer Streets Act (SB22-001) helps communities make critical improvements to cut down on crime and improve public safety through neighborhood upgrades, such as better lighting to increase visibility and improved design of shared community spaces. HB22-1003 invests $2 million in projects that demonstrate an evidence- and community-based response to reducing youth involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft: SB22-009 cuts down on catalytic converter thefts by giving state regulators more oversight of aftermarket sales of catalytic converters and making it easier to prosecute those selling stolen ones. SB22-179 adds civil penalties for offenses related to catalytic converter theft, while HB22-1217 creates a grant program to increase public awareness around catalytic converter theft and provide financial assistance to victims.

Supporting Victims and Preventing Identity-Based Violence: HB22-1234 creates a grant program to prevent and respond to identity-based violence; SB22-049 updates the Victim Rights Act to make it easier for victims to navigate the criminal justice system and bring perpetrators to justice; and HB22-1243 invests $14 million to improve school security and increase student access to behavioral health care in public schools. Preparing Students for Success

Major Increase in K-12 Education Funding: The 2022 School Finance Act increases funding for K-12 public schools by nearly $550 per student on average to put more resources directly into classrooms that school districts can use to increase teacher pay, reduce class sizes and ensure students have what they need to thrive. State support for K-12 education will increase by $431 million to $8.4 billion, reducing the Budget Stabilization Factor to the lowest level since it was created.

Boosting Funding for Higher Education: The 2022 state budget increases funding for institutions of higher education. As tuition rises across the country, the budget saves students money by investing state dollars to keep tuition down. With an investment of $129 million, we are boosting financial aid and tuition assistance to save Colorado students and families money on their degrees.

Creating More Affordable Pathways to Degrees, Certificates and Successful Careers: Democrats passed legislation to to invest $91 million in regional talent development initiatives to better align postsecondary credential programs to help workers fill good jobs in growing industries (HB22-1350); and expand stackable credential pathways to help Coloradans seeking to further their education or switch careers get the affordable training and credentials they need to land jobs in high-demand industries (SB22-192). Combating the Fentanyl Crisis and Saving Lives

The legislature passed HB22-1326, the Fentanyl Accountability and Prevention Act, a comprehensive approach to combat the fentanyl crisis. The bill deploys both proven public health-focused strategies and enhanced criminal penalties targeting dealers to keep fentanyl off Colorado streets and save lives. The bill strengthens criminal penalties on any individual distributing fentanyl, directs $29 million in federal pandemic relief funds to expand access to proven public health tools like the life-saving opioid antagonist Narcan as well as fentanyl test strips, and integrates mandatory substance use disorder (SUD) assessments and treatment into the state’s sentencing process to get people into treatment and recovery services. Protecting Abortion Rights and Access

As reproductive rights face imminent threats at the Supreme Court and across the country, Colorado took bold action to pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act (HB22-1279),protecting reproductive rights and establishing a fundamental right to choose to continue a pregnancy and give birth, or to have an abortion. Improving Air Quality and Addressing the Climate Crisis

Historic Air Quality Investments: Democrats made a record $111million investment to improve Colorado’s air quality through immediate emission reduction strategies and air quality monitoring (HB22-1362), deploy clean transportation initiatives such as electric-powered school buses and e-bike sharing programs, and incentivize the reduction of emissions (SB22-193).

Protections From Air Toxics: Toxic air pollution leads to poor health and higher risks for disease and cancer. Democrats passed legislation to reduce toxic pollution from harmful chemicals by establishing health-based air quality standards for hazardous air pollutants (HB22-1244).

Seasonal Free Public Transit: Democrats invested $10 million in the Revitalizing Main Streets grant program for communities to provide free transit rides during ozone season, which will improve air quality through increased use of public transit (SB22-180). Preventing and Responding to Wildfires

Wildfire Mitigation Resources for Homeowners, Local Governments and Volunteer Firefighters: Democrats passed legislation to invest $10 million in a matching grant program to help local governments fund sustainable forest management and wildfire mitigation efforts (HB22-1011); extend a current income tax deduction and create a new state income tax credit for wildfire mitigation expenses up to $625 per year (HB22-1007); allocate $7.2 million into wildfire mitigation grant programs (HB22-1012); and expand wildfire mitigation outreach and awareness campaigns (SB22-007). Another $5 million investment ensures local volunteer fire departments have the resources to purchase necessary equipment, provide training and behavioral health care services to firefighters and respond safely to wildfires (SB22-002).

Disaster Preparedness & Recovery and Insurance Coverage for Fire Disasters: The legislature invested $35 million to help individuals, businesses, and governments rebuild after disaster emergencies; allocated $15.5 million for improved wildfire fighting aviation resources and maintenance of a statewide fire dispatch center; and created the Office of Climate Preparedness in Colorado to better prepare for and respond to future disasters (SB22-206). Democrats also passed legislation to ensure that homeowners displaced by declared wildfire disasters receive a fair payout from their insurance companies (HB22-1111). Defending Colorado’s Gold Standard Elections

Colorado Election Security Act: Colorado sets the national standard when it comes to holding free, fair, and secure elections. Democrats passed SB22-153 to further improve internal election security by prohibiting anyone from serving as an election official if they have been convicted of any election offense or any offense or conspiracy to commit sedition, insurrection, treason, or conspiracy to overthrow the government, among other measures.

SB22-153 also prohibits election officials or candidates from physically tampering with voting equipment, and from having access to or being present in a room with voting equipment without being accompanied by one or more persons with authorized access. Addressing Homelessness

Transformational Statewide Grant Program: This $105 million grant program directs flexible funding to local governments and nonprofits that are pursuing innovative measures to address the needs of individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Those initiatives may include wraparound supportive services, care coordination, emergency shelters, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and property conversion (HB22-1377).

Denver-Metro Residential Services Campus and Ridge View Supportive Community Campus: These bills allocated $50 million for partnerships between the state, local governments and nonprofits in the Denver-Metro area to build or acquire and manage a regional campus to comprehensively respond to and prevent homelessness. (HB22-1378). SB22-211 repurposes Ridge View, a currently unused, state-owned facility, into a recovery-oriented community to help individuals without stable housing access services for mental health and substance use disorder treatment. (SB22-211). Empowering Colorado’s County Workers

Landmark Bill to Expand Collective Bargaining Rights: SB22-230 builds upon the state workers bill from 2020 to extend collective bargaining rights to county workers. This bill gives public service workers who choose to form a union a seat at the table to collectively bargain on issues like working conditions, job safety, pay and benefits, and to collaborate with management to address shared challenges like staff shortages, retention issues, and improving public services.