Colorado's 2024 Legislative Session Preview: What to Watch
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Colorado's 2024 Legislative Session Preview: What to Watch

Brownstein Client Alert, Feb. 26, 2023

Colorado’s state legislature is close to 50 days in of its 120-day lawmaking period and while legislators have introduced over 486 bills addressing myriad issues, this year’s session has perceptibly been colored by the residual effects of both the 2023 session as well as the special session related to residential property tax relief that occurred last November.

While issues surrounding housing, public safety, health care and general affordability remain at the fore, the first six weeks of the Colorado General Assembly’s work has thus far been largely dominated by occurrences linking back to previous sessions, including a series of resignations and protests as well as leadership and committee changes. For example, Democratic Reps. Ruby Dickson and Said Sharbini left their positions between the 2023 special session and the outset of the 2024 session, necessitating a series of vacancy appointments to fill their posts. In that same vein, former House Assistant Minority Leader Rose Pugliese (R) ascended to the minority leader post in the opening weeks of the session after caucus members forced votes to oust Rep. Mike Lynch from the top Republican job in that chamber.

However, while the 2024 session is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable in recent memory (particularly with November’s elections on the minds of lawmakers), certain key issues and themes have emerged that will certainly shape the rest of the Colorado General Assembly’s work moving forward.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jared Polis (D) has stated his intent to resurrect priority proposals for his administration that failed last session. Chief among those is a package of bills that would dramatically alter the current relationship between the state and local governments related to the creation of housing supply, particularly affordable housing. Specifically, instead of an omnibus bill like last session’s SB23-213, Capitol observers are expecting a number of standalone proposals that would require local governments to reconfigure their planning as it relates to accessory dwelling units (ADUs), housing located near public transit corridors and occupancy limits, among other potential proposals.

Democratic lawmakers have also promised a continued focus on longer-term solutions on property taxes, eliminating Colorado’s public school budget stabilization factor and ensuring the state’s climate goals address environmental justice. Republicans’ priorities weren’t too different: insulate Colorado’s increasing cost of living, provide regulatory relief for small businesses and promote public safety.

And while stated goals were similar across party lines, many of the bills introduced make it clear that Democrats and Republicans have differing perspectives on how to achieve them. Lawmakers seem to clash on housing and environmental solutions, and appear more aligned on addressing data privacy, the burgeoning artificial intelligence (AI) industry and our state’s mental health crisis. Please find an overview of those subjects and the corresponding bills below:

Housing

Legislators agree that housing shortages, property taxes and overall affordability are crises facing the state, but they differ the most on how to solve them. Some place the focus on housing costs and tenant rights, while others consider deregulating development, seeking to increase housing supply overall. One bill that is sure to take the main stage this session is HB 1175, which gives local government the right of first refusal or to purchase qualifying properties in their jurisdiction. A Democrat-led proposal intended to help drive long-term affordable housing and mixed-income development is sponsored by Reps. Andrew Boesenecker (D-Larimer) and Emily Sirota (D-Arapahoe). A bill returning in a narrower form this session is House Bill 1098, which specifies the reasons landlords may evict tenants and requires a 90-day notice for certain “no fault” evictions. The bill is sponsored in the House by eviction attorney Rep. Javier Mabrey (D-Denver) and Majority Leader Monica Duran (D-Jefferson). And seeking to address tenant rights, Sen. Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) introduced Senate Bill 94 to provide new legal remedies for tenants facing uninhabitable conditions.

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) will also spend time in the legislative spotlight. Reps. Amabile and Weinberg and Sens. Mullica and Exum are carrying legislation to encourage the construction of ADUs through financial incentives and administrative support, and to require certain local jurisdictions to accommodate homeowners who would like to construct ADUs.

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Rod Bockenfeld, of Adams and Arapahoe counties, brought House Bill 1144, which brings relief for sellers in the cooling housing market by creating an income tax credit for sellers of residential properties who buy down mortgage interest rates of buyers. And Senate Bill 21 expands current exemptions for small homeowner associations from compliance with certain provisions of the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCIOA), the set of laws governing the state’s HOAs. The bill is sponsored by Republicans representing western Colorado, Sen. Janice Rich and Rep. Matt Soper.

Further, there are three competing bills that have been introduced concerning the much-anticipated debate on addressing the impact the rising cost of litigation has on housing development.

Moderate Democrats Sen. Rachel Zenzinger (D-Jefferson) and Rep. Shannon Bird (D-Jefferson) have introduced SB 106, which is a bill supported by the Colorado Association of Homebuilders to enact reforms in the construction defect statute that the sponsors believe will reinvigorate new condominium construction. Minority Leader Paul Lundeen (R- El Paso) has brought his own proposal, SB 112, which goes further in enacting additional requirements for HOAs to initiate a construction defect action and further updates the Construction Defect Action Reform Act. His bill is seen as mostly a messaging bill for the industry and the Republicans. Finally, Reps. Parenti and Bacon have introduced HB24-1230, which is supported by the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and goes the opposite direction of SB 106 and SB 112 to expand construction defect action limitations from six years to 10 and to void any contractual provision that limits a property owner’s right to bring or join a legal action.

Environment and Energy

Similar to housing, lawmakers have differing viewpoints on how we reach the state’s climate goals. Senate Bill 32, brought by Sen. Priola (D-Adams), incentivizes public transit use by creating a tax credit on transit passes, establishing a fund for free youth transit and adds funding to the ozone season transit grant program. While Senate Bill 92, co-sponsored by Sen. Byron Pelton (R-Logan) and House Minority Leader Rose Pugliese (R-El Paso), considers the increasing cost of energy in the state and requires that local governments conduct a “cost-benefit analysis” laid out in the bill on any potential changes to their energy codes.

Sen. Cutter introduced Senate Bill 81 that extends and expands legislation passed in 2022 creating a ban on the sale of certain products with intentionally added PFAS chemicals (otherwise known as “forever chemicals”). This year’s bill creates a phased approach, with a comprehensive ban in place by 2032. And legislators already rejected a proposal brought by Sen. Larry Liston (R-El Paso) that added nuclear energy to the state’s list of clean energy resources. Rep. Manny Rutinel (D-Adams) is expected to bring environmental justice legislation giving local governments in cumulatively impacted communities more control over state air quality permits. There are also anticipated proposals to ban gas-powered vehicles by 2035, phase out new oil and gas permits by 2030, and create statewide standards for local renewable energy development project permits.

Data and Artificial Intelligence

Despite this stark divide that remains under the dome, legislators are reaching across the aisle on issues states nationwide are grappling with, including how to protect individual privacy and well-being without stifling innovation and utilization of bourgeoning technology and artificial intelligence. Reps. Cathy Kipp (D-Larimer) and Matt Soper (R-Delta) have come together on HB 1058 to consider Colorado residents’ neural privacy, expanding the Colorado Privacy Act to include the protection of biological data. Sponsored by Reps. Lindsey Daugherty (D-Jefferson) and Mike Lynch (R-Larimer), HB 1130 also amends the Colorado Privacy Act by adding guidelines and regulations around the use of an individual’s biometric data (e.g., facial recognition software).

With a growing body of research on social media and youth, legislators are also focused on legislation addressing minors. Minority Leader Rose Pugliese (R-El Paso) and Rep. Judy Amabile (D-Boulder) are proposing legislation, HB 1136, to increase regulations on social media platforms requiring pop-up warnings. And Senate Majority Leader Robert Rodriguez (D-Arapahoe) and Minority Leader Paul Lundeen (R-El Paso) have introduced SB 041 to enhance protections for minors’ data online.

Mental Health and Health Care

Related to these issues, mental health disease and substance abuse rates are at an all-time high and multiple bipartisan proposals this session look to provide resources and increased awareness for a growing population in a society ill-equipped to help. HB 1019, sponsored by Reps. Bradfield (R-El Paso) and Judy Amabile (D-Boulder) and HB 1038, sponsored by Reps. Mary Young (D-Weld) and Brandi Bradley (R-Douglas) both seek to address youth experiencing acute behavioral health crises. HB 1019 establishes a permanent program within the state’s Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) to provide services and HB 1038 requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and BHA to develop a system of care. SB 55, brought by Sens. Janice Marchman (D-Boulder) and Perry Will (R-Delta), develops multipronged solutions to provide support and resources for individuals with behavioral health disorders in agricultural and rural communities. HB 1045, another bipartisan solution proposed by Reps. Ryan Armagost (R-Larimer) and Chris DeGruy Kennedy (D-Jefferson) that came out of the interim committee, appropriates funding for substance use disorder treatments and research, and develops other support services.

Political Speech

And perhaps in a category of its own, HB 1260 seeks to prohibit employers from requiring employees to participate in political activities or speech. The bill is sponsored by newly appointed Reps. Tim Hernandez and House Majority Leader Monica Duran. While the language does contain exemptions for activities that are required for an employee to carry out job duties, much remains to be seen where this legislation will end up.

Where We Go From Here

While the supermajority Democrats will undoubtedly help drive their agenda, it’s not all party politics under the dome. It’s clear lawmakers are still committed to working across the aisle to solve the state’s pressing issues. Solutions like Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Speaker Julie McCluskie (D-Summit), Sen. Dylan Roberts (D-Eagle) and former Douglas County Assessor Rep. Lisa Frizell (R-Douglas), seeks to encourage property owners to create long-term rental, workforce and senior housing, as well as child care services and economic development through property tax credits or rebates.

However, we are only 48 days in and have 72 more to go. Time will tell how the political winds will shift and what solutions will make it to the governor’s desk.


This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding Colorado's 2024 legislative session. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this document or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact the attorneys listed or your regular Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP attorney. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions. The information in this article is accurate as of the publication date. Because the law in this area is changing rapidly, and insights are not automatically updated, continued accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

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