Gov. Jared Polis signed dozens of bills into law this week, including measures to create a statewide recycling program, improve election security and adopt stringent environmental regulations.
House Bill 1355 aims to boost the state’s abysmal recycling rate by creating a recycling program funded by dues from companies that produce plastic packaging, primarily retailers and beverage companies. The program would provide free recycling services to communities throughout the state.
“For too long, manufacturers of plastic have put the responsibility of dealing with plastic – recycling and disposal – on the shoulders of individuals and local communities,” said Rex Wilmouth, senior program director of Environment Colorado. “Now, when manufacturers are held responsible for the plastics that can’t be reused or recycled easily, they’ll stop producing so much of it in the first place.”
HB-1355 was one of the most controversial bills of the year, passing the legislature on the last day of the session after more than a dozen changes, including exemptions for small businesses, newspapers, agricultural employers, state government, local governments and nonprofits.
Other contentious bills signed this week included Bill 153, which seeks to improve internal security measures, and House Bill 1273, which establishes clear penalties for threatening or doxxing workers.
“While Colorado is a leader in election administration, the Secretary of State I will always work to expand access, strengthen security and respond to new challenges,” said Secretary Jena Griswold, who supports the bills. “I greatly appreciate the hard work of the Colorado legislature this year to continue the mission of protecting our democracy for every eligible Colorado voter, regardless of their political affiliation, race or zip code.”
Both bills passed largely along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition, especially SB-153, which was a direct response to security breaches allegedly made by Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters. Peters, a Republican, has denied the allegations and described them as an effort to keep her from running for secretary of state.
Also this week, Polis signed a host of bills focusing on the environment, such as Senate Bill 193, which invests over $111 million in air quality improvements; House Bill 1244, which sets emissions control regulations; House Bill 1362, which funds the adoption of electric appliances; House Bill 1345, which restricts the use of “forever chemicals”; House Bill 1159, which promotes recycled commodities; Senate Bill 51, which reduces emissions from built environments; and, Senate Bill 118, which encourages geothermal energy use.
He also signed several bills to address and prevent wildfires, including Senate Bill 2 to fund volunteer firefighting and House Bill 1132 to regulate controlled burns. House Bill 1012, House Bill 1011, Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 1007 fund wildfire mitigation efforts and outreach.
“Our strong actions to improve our air quality, prevent the spread of fires, and help communities impacted by natural disasters build back quickly will help ensure we have a cleaner, safer, safer Colorado for generations to come,” Polis said while signing the bills .
More bills to address homelessness were signed into law as well, such as House Bill 1304 to invest $178 million on affordable housing; House Bill 1377 for $105 million in grants for homeless support projects; House Bill 1378 to build a homeless resource center in the Denver metro area; and, Senate Bill 211 to repurpose the Ridge View Youth Services Center in Watkins into a homeless recovery campus.
A trio of bills to protect the rights of wheelchair users also received approval: House Bill 1031 to require powered wheelchair manufacturers to provide parts, software and tools to conduct repairs; House Bill 1290 to improve Medicaid rules for repairing mobility devices; and, House Bill 1253 to require rental car companies provide an online option to get a vehicle with adaptive equipment.
Other notable bills signed this week were Senate Bill 200, which funds $10 million in grants for rural hospitals; Senate Bill 5, which allocates $3 million on behavioral health support for law enforcement; Senate Bill 151, which deals with safe wildlife crossing projects; and, Senate Bill 168, which improves backcountry search and rescue operations.
Polis also signed the following bills this week:
- House Bill 1356 gives $35 million to community nonprofits impacted by COVID-19
- House Bill 1409 directs $20 million to the Community Revitalization Grant Program
- House Bill 1406 allows restaurants to deduct up to $70,000 from net taxable sales
- Senate Bill 232 creates the Middle-Income Housing Authority
- Senate Bill 182 creates the Economic Mobility Program
- Senate Bill 57 supports victims of violent crime who suffer brain injuries
- Senate Bill 205 regulates cannabis-related products that may cause intoxication
- House Bill 1380 creates statewide systems to provide services to low-income households
- Senate Bill 34 establishes a complaint process for business filing address and name fraud
- Senate Bill 172 creates the Colorado Rural Health Care Workforce Initiative