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The state House passed a bill on Tuesday that seeks to make it easier for Coloradans to pursue legal action against businesses that engage in deceitful or harmful practices. 

Currently, Coloradans trying to file a lawsuit against a business must prove that the business is not only deceptive toward them, but also has a pattern of fraudulent, harmful practices against others. If signed into law, House Bill 1192 would update Colorado’s Consumer Protection Act to remove the public impact requirement.  

“Colorado’s consumer protection laws are not working as intended and many Coloradans cannot pursue legal action against fraudulent businesses,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora. “This bill modernizes consumer protection laws to prioritize and protect everyday Coloradans.”

The bill would also increase civil and criminal penalties for fraudulent businesses and expand Colorado's 2020 price gouging law, making price gouging illegal 180 days after a disaster declaration ends. 

The House voted, 41-21, to pass the bill Tuesday, sending it to the Senate for further consideration. All Republicans voted against the bill and all but three Democrats voted in support of it: Reps. Shannon Bird of Westminster, Barbara McLachlan of Durango and Marc Snyder of Colorado Springs. 

Opponents of the bill largely took issue with the portion that would no longer require businesses to have significantly impacted the public to qualify as engaging in unfair or deceptive trade practices.

Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta, introduced two unsuccessful amendments that attempted to remove this section of the bill on Monday. 

"I would like to get behind the bill because price gouging and certainly having state antitrust laws, that's part of our state sovereignty," Soper said. "But the consumer protection part — I just had a lot of problems with." 

Business organizations similarly raised concerns about this change, saying it would result in an influx of frivolous lawsuits and make the legal requirements overly broad.

Several groups, including the Associated General Contractors, Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Competitive Council and the chambers of commerce for Denver and Colorado Springs, registered in opposition to the bill. 

The ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, Colorado Cross Disability Coalition, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and AARP are backing the bill.

Weissman said removing this controversial section of the bill would "greatly harm" it.  

"The point here is to keep consumers from getting harmed. If you have to establish that others have been harmed before you can proceed, then how many is enough?" Weissman said. "We are in the small minority of states that even have an aspect like this." 

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