Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill Friday pushed by fellow Democrats to ensure Colorado's internet remains fast and affordable.
The so-called net neutrality bill is push-back on the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission's decision to theoretically allow cable providers to charge for faster speeders and throttle the internet for those who don't pay up.
Senate Bill 78, which passed the Colorado House and Senate without a single Republican vote, would only apply to companies that receive assistance to expand broadband Internet into rural areas.
It also would give preference in state contracts to internet service providers practicing net neutrality.
A similar bill failed last year, but legislators did carve out $170 million to speed the deployment of private broadband services to rural areas of the state.
The new law makes sure companies receiving tax dollars don't boost the income from their contract by charging extra for faster speeds or throttling some websites, said Rep. Chris Hanson, D-Denver, one of the bill's sponsors.
"If we're going to spend that money, that taxpayer money, it needs to be in a way that conforms with the standards around net neutrality," he said.
Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, said that companies doing business in Colorado already promise to practice net neutrality; Senate Bill 85 just puts those good intentions into statute.
"We didn't go anywhere beyond what they already said they're going to do," she said before the House voted on the bill on April 3.
She began her pitch by telling the House, "Let me just break this down for you: internet good; slow, restricted internet bad."
House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock opposed the bill by spinning Herod's opening.
"Internet good," he said. "Government-controlled internet bad."
He said the internet had flourished precisely because the government has not controlled it, and he predicted consumers ultimately would wind up paying more, not less.
"Bills like this give special pork to people like Netflix," he said of the streaming services that depends on fast speeds.
The new law also instructs the attorney general's office to help people understand how to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if they believe their internet provider has broken the new law.
The bill was sponsored in the upper chamber by Democratic Sens. Kerry Donovan of Vail and Jeff Bridges of Greenwood Village.
The bill sprang from the FCC decision in 2017 to cancel the net neutrality policies set by the Obama administration in 2014. Republicans said the rules were an unnecessary government regulation when the free market had allowed the internet to prosper.
Colorado joins five other states — California, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — that have passed net neutrality laws in response.