Less than 24 hours after Democrats on a Colorado House panel gave preliminary approval to a rent control bill, Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday indicated he is "skeptical" of the measure.

House Bill 1115 won an 8-5 vote, with one Democrat, Rep. Alex Valdez of Denver, voting against the measure, along with the committee's four Republicans.

The bill would lift the state preemption on rent control, which under current law means the state bans rent control and that local governments cannot adopt rent control or rent stabilization policies.

Sponsored by Reps. Javier Mabrey, D-Denver and Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs, more than 100 people showed up Wednesday, testifying late into the evening on the problems they face with unaffordable housing, a situation they said is endemic throughout Colorado.

Asked for comment on the legislation, spokesman Conor Cahill said: "Governor Polis is skeptical that rent control will create more housing stock, and locations with these policies often have the unintended consequences of higher rent."

The governor has historically not been a fan of rent control. Twice in the last two sessions, he has signaled a potential veto of bills that attempted to modify the state law.

In 2021, bill sponsors negotiated with the governor's office to avoid a veto that overturned a 2000 Colorado Supreme Court ruling that prohibited local governments from using land use for affordable housing as a work-around to the state law. 

Last year, a bill that would have imposed price caps on mobile home rent was watered down, also at the behest of the administration.

In a statement to Colorado Politics, Cahill said the governor "is proud of the historic investments we have made over the last three legislative sessions and is committed to partnering with the General Assembly to attack the root causes of the affordable housing crisis."

The Polis administration said that, despite the resources — the General Assembly approved more than $450 million in federal COVID-related relief for affordable housing in the 2022 session — the demand for housing "continues to outpace the supply in Colorado. Colorado needs more housing options for every budget, for purchase and for rent. The rent is too damned high."

As for HB 1115, Cahill said Polis and his team "are always open to seeing specific proposals and letting legislators know if they have any concerns."

The unintended consequences cited by Polis were also highlighted by those who testified in opposition to HB 1115 during Wednesday's hearing, notably landlords, apartment association representatives and chambers of commerce. 

The bill now awaits debate of the full House. 

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