Sen. Chris Holbert last bill

Senate Republican leader Chris Holbert of Parker holds up Senate Bill 224, the last piece of Senate legislation bound for the House, on Thursday, June 11, 2020. Holbert voted against the bill.

Democrats are making quick work of a long-stalled bill on immigrant protections from landlords.

Senate Bill 224 passed the Senate Thursday.

The legislation was only introduced Wednesday, then it passed committee and a debate on the Senate floor in its first day.

After it passed the Senate Thursday morning, it went to the House, where it was assigned to and then passed the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on a 6-3 party line vote that afternoon.

Now it awaits two votes on the floor to head to the governor's desk.

The House committee, however, tacked on an amendment that will force senators to vote on whether to approve the change before they can go home, if the bill makes it out of the lower chamber.

Senate Bill 224 would bar a landlord from using or disclosing information regarding a tenant's citizenship or immigration status. If that happed, a tenant could bring a civil lawsuit against the landlord seeking compensatory damages and a $2,000 fine, payable to the tenant.

The legislation, however, is another example of bills that fall outside what legislators said they were returning to Denver to do after their two-month break for coronavirus: deal with the state budget, School Finance Act and legislation that is fast, friendly and free.

Moreover, the bill is almost identical to Senate Bill 108, which passed the upper chamber 22-11 on Feb. 3 but was voted down 10-0 in the House Business Affair and Labor Committee on May 27.

This one was fast and would "minimally increase revenue and expenditures in the Judicial Department or in local governments associated with civil cases."

With one exception, Republicans didn't find it friendly to landlords. The Senate also passed the measure 20-15, with Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson as the only Republican to vote with Democrats.

Sen. Larry Crowder said he didn't know what problem the bill is solving, since there are already anti-discrimination and fair housing laws on the books. He called it a solution looking for a problem.

"I look at this as a lawyer bill, more than anything," he said. "I don't know what it solves. I think it creates more problems."

 Priola said "all it asks is that landlords treat everybody the same" and "the underlying premise of the bill is don't harass somebody and ask for a lot of personal information for a credit check on one applicant but not another group."

Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat from Denver, co-sponsored both bills.

"Really this bill is about not creating different processes for people based on their immigration status," asked to fill out a different kind of form, she said in the May 27 hearing. Some people are treated differently based on the presumption they might be undocumented, Gonzales added.

She asked that the original bill be killed to make room that addressing factors raised by COVID-19, she said.

Senate Republican leader Chris Holbert of Parker noted the bill was the last one that originated in the Senate that was to move to the House, before lawmakers adjourn in the coming days.

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