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Even After an Active April, There is Still Much Work Ahead. Senate Democrats’ Busiest Month? It’s Gonna’ Be May

A stimulus bill to support beginner farmers and ranchers, as well as bills on consumer data protection, election reform, climate resilience, parks & wildlife, and backcountry search & rescue all head to committees this week

DENVER, CO - Senate Democrats remain in sync as they hope to work together to get many legislative proposals through committees this week.

One of the bills being heard is a part of Colorado’s recovery package:

SB21-248: Loan Program For Colorado Agriculture, sponsored by Senators Donovan & Simpson and Representatives McCormick & Holtorf:

  • Agribusiness provides more than 170,000 jobs in Colorado and contributes over $40 million annually to our economy, but the pandemic has dramatically reduced this growth. This bill allocates $30 million to create and implement the Colorado Agricultural Future Loan Program which will provide low-interest loans to beginning farmers and ranchers as well as farm-to-market infrastructure loans for businesses – putting Colorado on a pathway toward a sustainable and prosperous future for the agriculture industry.

This bill will be heard by the Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee upon adjournment of morning floor work on Wednesday May 5th in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.

Other legislative priorities headed to committee this week include:

SB21-169: Restrict Insurers' Use Of External Consumer Data, sponsored by Senator Buckner.

  • To continue with the long work ahead to address systemic racism and bolster protections against discrimination, we must be purposeful, targeted, and unabashed as we insert considerations of diversity, equity, and inclusion into everything we do. This bill prohibits considering someone's race, color, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or transgender status in any insurance practice, as well as using any external consumer data, algorithm or predictive model that unfairly discriminates against someone based on those factors.

This bill will be heard by the Senate Business, Labor, & Technology Committee at 1:30PM on Monday May 3rd in Senate Committee Room 352.

SB21-250: Elections And Voting, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Fenberg and Senator Gonzales.

  • Although Colorado has some of the most transparent and accessible elections in the country, there are still improvements we can make. SB21-250 bill takes care of the ‘belts and suspenders’ voting fixes that follow any statewide election. Following the feedback from the Secretary of State, county clerks, and voting rights advocates, a few of the tweaks to Colorado’s gold-standard election system included in the bill are: expanding online and automatic voter registration, clarifying and codifying requirements for recall election processes, and expanding definitions of electioneering in and around polling places.

This bill will be heard by the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee at 2:00PM on Tuesday May 4th in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.

HB21-1242: Create Agricultural Drought And Climate Resilience Office, sponsored by Senator Donovan.

  • Each of Colorado’s 64 counties were in drought in 2020. Now, although we are still not yet in the summer months, almost 90% of the state is already in at least a moderate drought, and one-third of the state is already in an extreme or exceptional drought. Drought conditions will continue to be exacerbated by continuing climatic changes over the years and Colorado must be prepared to handle them. This bill creates the Drought and Climate Resilience Office in the Department of Agriculture to provide voluntary technical assistance, programs, and incentives that increase the ability to anticipate, prepare for, mitigate, adapt to, and respond to hazardous events, trends, or disturbances related to drought or the climate.

This bill will be heard by the Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee upon adjournment of morning floor work on Wednesday May 5th in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.

SB21-249: Keep Colorado Wild Annual Pass, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Fenberg and Senator Donovan.

  • Colorado’s great outdoors and wildlife are among our most treasured resources. They enhance our quality of life, bring us prosperity, and represent the fabric of our state. SB21-249 ensures that all Coloradans have the opportunity to support our great outdoors and also reduces fees to access our state parks and other public lands. The bill directs Colorado Parks & Wildlife to create an optional, discounted “Keep Colorado Wild Pass” that will be added when Coloradans register their passenger vehicles, light trucks, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles, starting in 2023.

This bill will be heard by the Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee at 1:30PM on Thursday May 6th in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.

SB21-245: Backcountry Search And Rescue In Colorado, sponsored by Senator Donovan.

  • As the state’s population increases at an unprecedented rate, Colorado’s backcountry search and rescue system faces new and demanding challenges. On average, Colorado backcountry search and rescue organizations respond to over 3,500 search and rescue incidents -- more than any other state. This bill prescribes a study and stakeholder process to address numerous issues with the existing volunteer-based backcountry search and rescue program and provide policy recommendations. The bill also addresses immediate needs to backcountry search and rescue organizations by creating a pilot program to provide mental health services to backcountry search and rescue responders.

This bill will be heard by the Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee at 1:30PM on Thursday May 6th in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.

To listen to committee hearings, visit leg.colorado.gov/watch-listen. The full Senate calendar for the week can be found at http://leg.colorado.gov/session-schedule?type=senate.