We’ve been reminding ourselves a lot this year of the old adage, “Elections have consequences.” That’s certainly true in Colorado, where this year the state legislature passed a number of laws that negatively affect issues we care deeply about, such as freedom of speech, religious liberty and parental rights. Laws have also been passed that are harmful to children and families.
In 2018, Democrats gained control of Colorado’s General Assembly, overturning a Republican majority in the state’s Senate. The Democrats already controlled the state’s House of Representatives. With the election of Governor Polis, the Democratic Party gained a “trifecta,” meaning it controls both chambers of the General Assembly and the governorship.
Governor Polis spent nearly $23 million of his own money to become the first openly gay-identified man to govern any U.S. state. Democrats had total election spending, on all Colorado races, of $34 million, while Republicans spent only $7 million.
Here are some of the bills signed into law that adversely impact Colorado families, children and our individual liberties:
- HB 1032 – Comprehensive Sex Education. The legislation provides at least $1 million annually to fund “comprehensive sexuality education” for children from fourth grade and up. It provides for an unelected oversight board, drawn from “heavily discriminated against groups” to disperse funds and oversees outcomes. When taught, sexual education must not include “gender norms and stereotypes” and must not exclude the health needs of “intersex individuals or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.” When pregnancy outcomes are taught, the teaching must include abortion as an option. It also includes teaching children about what “consent” to various sexual acts looks like.
- HB 1120 – Youth Mental Health Education and Suicide Prevention. The law allows children as young as 12 to see a counselor without parental permission and requires the state Dept. of Ed. to establish a “mental health education literacy resource bank” open to all.
- HB 1129 – Prohibit Conversion Therapy for a Minor. HB 1129 prohibits licensed, professional therapists from helping minors struggling with homosexuality or gender confusion.
- HB 1192 – Inclusion of American Minorities in Teaching Civil Government. This law mandates education in grades K-12 about the “history, culture and social contributions of minorities, including but not limited to, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals within these minority groups, and the intersectionality of significant social and cultural features within these communities, and the contributions and persecution of religious minorities.” HB 1192 mirrors legislation in California, New Jersey and Illinois, where children as young as kindergarten are introduced to LGBT-identified individuals through social studies lessons.
- HB 1230 – Marijuana Hospitality Establishments. The legislation allows Colorado cities and counties to authorize “marijuana hospitality spaces” for marijuana These include “mobile marijuana hospitality establishments” and “retail marijuana hospitality and sales establishments” for selling and consuming marijuana on site. These hospitality spaces aren’t allowed to offer free samples.
- HB 1234 – Regulated Marijuana Delivery. HB 1234 allows municipalities to establish delivery of medical cannabis to private residences starting in June, 2020. Recreational marijuana may be delivered to homes beginning in June, 2021.
In addition to these bills, Polis signed a law where Colorado joined the Popular Vote Compact, giving the state’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote – no matter the outcome in the state. The legislature also passed HB 1278, allowing 17-year olds to vote in primaries if they will turn 18 by the time of the general election. The law also prohibits police station and sheriff’s offices from being used as voting or ballot drop off locations.
The General Assembly passed legislation prohibiting law enforcement officers and other public employees from assisting federal agents as they enforce federal immigration regulations. Other laws passed during the three month session include a “red flag” gun law; tighter regulations on “greenhouse gas pollution”; a law allowing felons out on parole to vote, and tighter restrictions on the state’s oil and gas industries.
As Wayne Laugeson, Editorial Page Editor for The Gazette wrote, “Never in contemporary Colorado politics has one party wielded so much power and control with such overreaching, unrestrained revolutionary zeal.” Indeed. Elections matter, and Coloradans are facing the consequences.