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Nothin’ Going to Break Senate Democrats’ Stride as Legislative Session Marches on

Bills on tenancy protections, affordable housing, mental health services, data privacy, and transportation, as well as stimulus bills on agricultural resilience, behavioral health services, and watershed restoration all head to committees this week

DENVER, CO - Senate Democrats have a spring in their step as they get to work this week, hoping to clear a number of priority bills through legislative committees.

Several of the bills being heard are a part of Colorado’s recovery package including:

SB21-239: 2-1-1 Statewide Human Services Referral System, sponsored by Senators Kolker & Zenzinger.

  • The pandemic has taken a severe toll on our collective mental health. As our lives have been disrupted, many have faced economic uncertainty, including businesses and schools which have been forced to close. This bill transfers $1 million to the Department of Human Services to expand the Colorado 2-1-1 collaborative to include necessary referrals for mental health services and other resources in the state for Coloradans, particularly for individuals who are unemployed. 

This bill will be heard by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee at 1:30PM today, Monday, April 26th in Senate Committee Room 357.

SB21-234: General Fund Transfer Agriculture And Drought Resiliency, sponsored by Senators Jaquez Lewis & Sonnenberg.

  • In 2020, each of the 64 Colorado counties was experiencing a drought. Major drivers were an absent monsoon season, increased soil moisture deficits, record-high temperatures, and extreme evaporative demands from winds and low humidity. This drought exacerbated many of the financial impacts on the agriculture sector, and as climate change worsens, drought could cost Colorado an additional $511 million dollars in expected annual damages to agriculture. To help plan for and mitigate future droughts, this bill establishes the Agriculture & Drought Resilience Fund in the Department of Agriculture and allocates $3 million to engage in activities that promote the ability of the state to anticipate, mitigate, or respond to droughts.

This bill will be heard by the Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee upon adjournment of morning floor work on Wednesday, April 28th in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.

SB21-240: Watershed Restoration Grant Program Stimulus, sponsored by Senators Danielson & Simpson.

  • Last year was the worst wildfire season in Colorado state history. As we work to rebuild and revitalize our economy, we must also focus on restoring and strengthening our natural environment to withstand wildfire impacts in the future. This bill transfers $15 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to help watersheds recover from the impacts of wildlifes. Additionally the bill sets aside funds to conduct a statewide watershed analysis that investigates the susceptibility of life, safety, infrastructure, and water supplies to wildfire impacts.

This bill will be heard by the Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee at 1:30PM on Thursday, April 29th in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.

Other legislative priorities headed to committee this week include:

SB21-238: Create Front Range Passenger Rail District, sponsored by Senate President Garcia and Senator Zenzinger.

  • For decades Colorado’s transportation infrastructure has been notably underfunded, an issue that has only intensified with the massive population increase over recent years. Some experts believe that the over-used and subsequent deterioration of Colorado’s roads and bridges have also led to depressed economic growth. The bill proposes creating a Front Range Passenger Rail Board to research, develop, construct, operate, and maintain the rail system and instructs them to work collaboratively with RTD as well as Amtrak to ensure interconnectedness and compatibility with existing services and projects. 

This bill will be heard by the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee at 2:00PM on Tuesday, April 27th in Senate Committee Room 357.

SB21-190: Protect Personal Data Privacy, sponsored by Senators Rodriguez & Lundeen.

  • The lack of regulation around big tech companies has resulted in the monopolization and control of our data that corporations use to profit off of us, without passing down any of the benefits to us. To help reign in this power, we must return rights to consumers. This bill will provide consumers with the right to opt out of their personal data being processed, as well as the right to access, correct, delete, or obtain their personal data from various entities in Colorado that utilize and profit off of their data.

This bill will be heard by the Senate Business, Labor, & Technology Committee at 1:30PM on Wednesday, April 28th in Senate Committee Room 352.

SB21-154: 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network, sponsored by Senators Kolker & Simpson.

  • Mental health is health care, and people need to know that they can and should seek help in times of crisis. This bill creates an emergency hotline for mental health and suicide prevention – aligning Colorado with the nationally designated three-digit response number, 988. Implementation of 988 will improve quality and access to behavioral health crisis services – especially for underserved populations – as well as reduce stigma surrounding suicide, mental health, and substance use conditions.