Sen. Chris Kolker

Freshman Sen. Chris Kolker, D-Centennial, works at his desk before a session of the Colorado Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

For many years, the first day of the General Assembly is not only an opportunity to hear from legislative leaders on their agenda for the upcoming 120 days. The latter part of the day includes the rollout of the first 100 bills or more, with the first five in each chamber usually an indication of the majority caucus’s priorities.

Not in 2021.

The first three days of the session, held in January, focused strictly on fixes to errors in 2020 laws or other modifications to pandemic relief.

The first 10 bills introduced on Tuesday don’t reflect those priorities, either. The reason? Those top priority bills, on health care costs or transportation or education, just aren’t ready for prime time yet. Senate Democratic spokeswoman Bella Combest said that the first bills leading off the rest of the session are more a reflection of who got their bills in first, rather than a set of priorities for the Democratic caucus.

Speaker of the House Alec Garnett, D-Denver, said through a spokesman that “like prior years, the first set of bills introduced demonstrate some of the priorities for our caucus: supporting health care workers, giving working families the tools to succeed, continuing our efforts to diversify Colorado’s educator corps and support teachers and students, expanding access to the ballot, and improving access to affordable housing.”

But while those bills are important, they don’t touch on the House Democratic caucus’s top priority, which is pandemic relief. Garnett said lawmakers “are hard at work on these proposals, and I expect them to be introduced in the coming weeks.”

The first 10 bills to be introduced in the House on Tuesday:

  • House Bill 1005, establishing a health care reserve corps task force, sponsored by the House’s two health care professionals, Reps. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn, and Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton.
  • House Bill 1011, expanding multilingual ballot access, sponsored by Caraveo.
  • House Bill 1012 expanding monitoring of the state’s prescription drug program, sponsored by Mullica and Rep. Janice Rich, R-Grand Junction.
  • House Bill 1013, on domestic stock insurers, sponsored by Reps. Marc Snyder D-Colorado Springs, and Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch.
  • House Bill 1014, allowing a person to disclose disability information on state identification documents, sponsored by Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Aurora, and Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park.
  • House Bill 1015, on security protection for employees in criminal justice, sponsored by Reps. Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs, and Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood.
  • House Bill 1022, on surrogacy agreements, sponsored by Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Greenwood Village.
  • House Bill 1026, allowing certain foreign businesses to operate in Colorado, sponsored by Baisley and Tipper.
  • House Bill 1027, extending the ability of liquor stores to offer takeout and delivery, sponsored by Reps. Colin Larson, R-Littleton, and Dylan Roberts, D-Avon.
  • House Bill 1030, expanding the peace officers mental health grant program, sponsored by Reps. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, and House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland.

The House introduced more than 100 bills.

The Senate added more than 80 bills on Tuesday, including:

Senate Bill 21-004, to create concurrent legislative jurisdiction between Colorado and the feds over the United States Army Pueblo chemical depot, sponsored by Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, and Sen. Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa.

Senate Bill 5, which would exempt a business from a public health agency or executive order requiring businesses to close if: products sold or services offered by the business are also available at a business that has not been required to close or; the business complies with any safety precautions that the order requires of businesses that are allowed to stay open, and sponsored by Sen. Rob Woodward, R-Loveland.

Senate Bill 6, allowing the composting of human remains, sponsored by Sen. Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver.

Senate Bill 7, which requires registered electors cast their ballot in person for each general election at a polling location within the county of the elector's residence. In-person voting would be limited to the seven-day period before the election, sponsored by Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument.

Senate Bill 8, to remove the word “junior” from the Trinidad State Junior College, Otero Junior College and Northeastern Junior College.

Senate Bill 9, to create a reproductive health care program that provides contraceptive methods and counseling services to participants, sponsored by Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont.

Senate Bill 10, adds a requirement for a witness to add a voter identification number and for a county clerk to verify the witness's signature on mail-in ballots. 

Senate Bill 11, which requires a pharmacist who dispenses an opioid to inform the individual of the potential dangers of a high dose of opioid and offer to prescribe an opiate antagonist, sponsored by Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.

Senate Bill 12, which encourages the state Division of Fire Prevention and Control to hire inmates who have garnered wildland firefighting experience through the inmate disaster relief program, sponsored by Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail.

Senate Bill 13, which directs the Department of Education to identify educational products, strategies and services effective in identifying and reversing student learning loss caused by the suspension of in-person learning, sponsored by Fields.

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