Colorado Lawmakers Pass Major Legislation That Includes Pandemic Relief, State-Controlled Insurance Plan, Plastic Bag Ban – CBS Denver
DENVER (CBS4)– The state Legislature will wrap up the 2021 session by sending 508 bills to the governor’s desk. The Colorado comeback from the pandemic was a top priority for lawmakers.
They approved nearly $126 million in loans, grants and sales tax relief for small businesses, $136 million in workforce development and student scholarships, $150 million to increase childcare, and $500 million for affordable housing.
The legislature passed more major pieces of legislation this year than any in recent memory, making sweeping changes that will impact everyone in the state in some way.
With control of both chambers, Democrats pushed through a bold agenda. On health care, they created a state-controlled insurance plan to lower premiums 15%, and a board to review and cap prescription drug costs.
On the environment, they banned plastic bags and assessed a fee on greenhouse gas emissions. And on immigration, they gave non-citizens access to public benefits.
Among the most controversial bills was a $5.4 billion transportation funding measure that creates fees on everything from gas to delivery services and a bill making it harder for those under 21 years old to get medical marijuana.
There were far-reaching criminal justice reforms, including bills prohibiting arrests for non-violent misdemeanors, allowing some felony records to be sealed, and making bias-motivated crimes easier to prosecute.
Lawmakers also removed the statute of limitations for cases involving sex assaults against kids and passed a first-in-the-nation law allowing survivors of child sex assault to sue if their abuse was the result of a cover-up by an institution.
Mental health care was the focus of more than a dozen bills. Lawmakers funded counseling for every k-12 student, required insurers to cover annual mental wellness exams, and allocated $100 million for crisis services.
After last year’s historic wildfires, lawmakers also set aside more than $80 million for prevention, mitigation and restoration. And after the Boulder shooting, they passed bills limiting access to guns for people convicted of violent misdemeanors and creating a state gun violence prevention office.
In the final days of the session, they also introduced a bill to address the spike in property tax assessments. It makes a temporary reduction in rates for both residential and non-residential properties and allows some homeowners to defer a portion of their tax until they sell their homes.