2021 Voices for Justice Interim Legislative Report

Here’s a status report that highlights the status of some of the bills that or Voices for Justice task fork are currently tracking. These are bills that we’ve identified as important to the faith community. In June, we will provide a more detailed report. Though some areas are not covered this session, this report is categorized by our public policy priorities and a special focus on veterans.

Education of Children—report provided by Mary Ann Panarelli

Signed into law: SB21-053 Adjustments to School Funding for Fiscal Year 20-21. Provides schools with originally allocated funds, despite lower enrollment and local tax contributions, due to Covid.

Bills that Passed the body where they were introduced and are under consideration in second house:

HB21-1006 Fifth Day School Enrichment Program (Passed House 51-12)–provides grants for school divisions that have four day week to use for additional enrichment programs.

HB21-112 School District Scholarship Funds (passed house 53-10)–allows school districts to use excess mill taxes to establish scholarships for graduates. Monitor implementation for equity.

HB21-1114 School District Provision of Internet Services (passed house 50-12-1)–enables school boards to provide enhanced internet services without voter approval.

SB21-172 Educator Pay Raise Fund (passed senate 23-12)–establishes a fund which could receive transfers from general fund to support teacher and hourly education staff raises.

Bills postponed indefinitely

SB21-037 Student Equity Education Funding Programs–would have required school divisions to provide per pupil state funds to parents to use for tutoring or other programs if the school division was closed to face-to-face instruction for more than 30 days)

Immigration—report by Jean Demmler

There are six bills related to migrants and immigrants in Colorado that Voices For Justice has supported in the 2021 Colorado Assembly. At mid-session, there has been good progress toward the passage of these bills into Colorado law.

Five bills have originated in the House and two of these bills have been signed into law by Governor Polis on April 15, 2021.  These two bills are:

  1. HB21-1075 which changes the term of “illegal alien” to “worker without authorization” in contracts; and,
  2. HB21-1054, which eliminates the requirement of verifying lawful presence in the US in order to receive public housing benefits.

Three other House bills are still under consideration. 

  1. HB21-1057 extends the definition of extortion of migrants and immigrants to include sexual assault, domestic violence and report of another person’s immigration status to law enforcement.  The bill passed out of the House unanimously and was considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 15. The bill essentially closed a loophole in earlier extortion law and was strongly supported by the Colorado Districts’ Attorneys Council.  The bill passed 5-0 and the committee report will recommend that the bill be placed on the consent agenda of the Senate Committee of the Whole.
  2. HB21-1060 sets out a standardized state-wide process for application for the U non-immigrant Status (U-Visa) from the federal government. This process enhances the consistency and timeliness of the verification process across Colorado for migrants who are victims of crime.  This bill passed the House (41-23) on March 17 and was considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 15.  The bill passed out of committee by a party-line vote of 3-2 to be voted on by the full Senate.
  3. HB21-1194 is an especially important bill that would establish an Immigration Legal Defense Fund.  This fund would award grants to non-profit organizations that provide legal advice, counseling and representation for, and on behalf of, indigent clients who are subject to immigration proceedings.  This bill has been passed by the House Judiciary Committee (March 30) with the recommendation that it be considered by the Appropriations Committee. The fund would begin with $100,000 from the General Fund. There is not yet a date for the bill’s consideration in the Appropriations Committee.

A bill originating in the Senate related to migrants and being followed by Voices for Justice is SB21-077.  The bill eliminates the requirement that the department of education and each division, board, or agency of the department of regulatory agencies verify the lawful presence of each applicant before issuing or renewing a license. This bill passed the Senate (24-11) on March 23 and is being heard on the House floor on April 19.

Racism—Report by Adrian Miller

SB21-116—Prohibit American Indian Mascots. After June 1, 2022, the bill prohibits the use of American Indian mascots in any public school or institution of higher education. Public K12 schools must cease using such a mascot as of October 1, 2021. Failure to change the mascot results in a fine of $25,000 for each month the mascot remains unchanged.

SB21-182 School Discipline. This bill makes changes to state law related to school discipline, including disproportionate discipline, data reporting, district policies, and law enforcement on school grounds. It has been postponed indefinitely.

Sexuality, Families, and Abuse—Report by Sue Ricker

SB21-073 Civil Action Statute of Limitations Sexual Abuse.  This bill was suspended last session and revised this session.  There has been a lot of attention and support for this bill that defines sexual misconduct and removes the limitation on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct.  It further clarifies and eliminates former limits.  The bill has been sent to the governor to sign.

HB21-1094  Foster Youth in Transition.  Allows youth to voluntarily continue to receive assistance with housing, employment, employment, obtaining documents and receiving information about relatives and siblings up to the last day of the youth’s 21st year.

HB21-1101  Preserving Family Relationships in Child Foster Placements. Further clarifies visitation with parents and siblings.  Includes past adoption contract between child and birth parent if the child is 12 or older if the child agrees to the contract.

Bills to watch: HB 21-1151  Indian Tribes to Certify Own Foster Homes.

Veterans—Report by Vicky Daub

SB21-032: Mobile Veterans-support Unit Grant Program

This bill establishes a mobile veterans-support unit grant program to provide grant funding to a veteran-owned-and-focused organization to create a mobile veterans-support unit. Unit acts as a point of contact to veterans in rural areas or to veterans experiencing homelessness. Unit distributes supplies, transports veterans who do not have access to public or private transportation and works with the office of economic development to provide business and job opportunities to veterans.

SB21-129: Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot Program

This bill requires the state department of human services (department) to establish a veteran suicide prevention pilot program to reduce the suicide rate and suicidal ideation among veterans by providing no-cost, stigma-free, confidential, and effective behavioral health treatment for post-9/11 veterans and their families. The department is permitted to enter into an agreement with a nonprofit organization to administer the pilot program. The department is required to include information about the pilot program in its annual report the general assembly. The pilot program is repealed June 30, 2025.

SJR21-011: Honoring Colorado Vietnam Veterans  (Personal note from Vicky)

It appears that a resolution/memorial for Vietnam Veterans is passed annually in Colorado.  It met a lot to my husband Larry to read this resolution/memorial, since he is a Vietnam Vet.

%d bloggers like this: