Gov. Jared Polis

Gov. Jared Polis on Monday afternoon continued his spree of bills signings, putting pen to paper on bills on elections, tribal nations and broadband expansion during stops in Golden and Denver.

At the Jefferson County offices in Golden, the governor signed House Bills 1011 and 1071, a pair of measures that seek to expand ballot access and give local governments more flexibility in administering elections.

HB 1011 from Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, and Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, will expand the prevalence of multilingual ballots by lowering the threshold at which counties are required to provide sample ballots in multiple languages.

Meanwhile, HB 1071 from Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, and Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, will broaden access to ranked-choice voting at the local level.

Cities are already allowed to use ranked-choice voting, but only a handful actually do because locals often rely on their county clerks to administer elections. County clerks are required under state law to administer standard first-past-the-post elections.

The bill allows cities who opt into instant runoff elections to continue having their county clerks administer their elections.

From Golden, Polis took a short jaunt east to The Denver Indian Center to sign a pair of bills aimed directly at tribal nations as well as a third with a broader focus that includes funds that will help some tribes in Colorado.

The first two include:

  • Senate Bill 29 from Fenberg, House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Denver, which requires colleges and universities in Colorado to charge in-state tuition to Native American students who are registered as members of a federally recognized tribe with historical ties to the state
  • Senate Bill 116 from Benavidez, Sen. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, which will ban the use of most Indian mascots and nicknames in Colorado public schools, colleges and universities

At the Denver signing ceremony, Polis also enshrined the provisions of House Bill 1289 into state law.

The bill from Kennedy, Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park, and Sens. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, and Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, is a $75 million state stimulus proposal that seeks to build out Colorado’s broadband infrastructure.

The elements of the legislation include:

  • $35 million through the Broadband Deployment Board at the state Department of Regulatory Affairs for so-called “last mile” projects that aim to link telecommunication networks to users’ homes
  • $5 million to the Interconnectivity Grant Program Fund in the Department of Local Affairs to fund so-called “middle mile” projects linking the last mile to a telecommunication network operator’s core network
  • $10 million to both the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute tribal nations, who have broad discretion on how the funds can be used to build out broadband infrastructure
  • $15 million to boost connectivity for telehealth providers

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