With hundreds of bills flowing through the state legislature each year it can be hard to follow what could have an impact on your life, so we wanted to explain a few bills important to the G.E.S. community and reached out to G.E.S.’ state representative and senator to get their thoughts on the bills they are sponsoring this year. Colorado’s legislature meets for 120 days at the start of each year, and is considered a part-time legislature, with most members maintaining other jobs as well.
Representative Alex Valdez represents House District 5, which includes Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea. He’s now serving his second term and fourth legislative session. Having worked extensively in the solar industry, many of his bills have focused on renewable energy, but this session he’s focused on several other topics as well. One bill that’s likely to get attention (and not just because of the pirate hat) is House Bill 22-1030, which creates a refundable state income tax credit of up to $75 for residents who have been the victim of theft to install anti-theft devices, or for companies who give them to customers. “At some point there is an industry that will rise up to solve this problem,” Valdez told The G.E.S. Gazette. He hopes the credit will spur more local businesses to create boxes that delivery companies can access but lock afterward and similar options that reduce package theft.
During the bill’s hearing, committee members mostly said they were supportive of the bill, though they questioned why it only applied to people who had already been the victim of theft and not those who may want to install something proactively. Valdez explained that was partially due to the fiscal cost but also because some communities, and some specific blocks and even homes, have been targeted more frequently, so he believes the bill will help address the problem in communities that have been most impacted. He said while working in the legislature, packages would often sit for long periods of time on his own porch, and he was having an average of one stolen per week before he moved to a different home with a secured delivery option.
Valdez is also sponsoring HB22-1116, which creates a policy review panel for plant-based medicines. Denver may have decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms (hallucinogenic mushrooms sometimes called “magic mushrooms”), but this bill focuses on medical, not recreational uses, specifically for mental health. Valdez hopes it can help address the mental health crisis he sees both locally and nationally, noting that several other states across the country, including more conservative areas, have all introduced similar legislation. He also stresses that the bill is about safety and finding what uses for hallucinogens are appropriate.
“Colorado has an opportunity to explore this topic in a lot more depth: the medical and production issues,” said Valdez, adding “you don’t want unsafe things being legalized.”
Two Bills Focused on stopping Catalytic Converter Thefts
Catalytic converter thefts are one of the other most prevalent property crime issues in the city. Converters aren’t valuable themselves, but contain rare materials like rhodium. Converter thefts skyrocketed from 14 reported thefts across the city in 2019 to 2,671 in 2021 according to the Denver Police Department, with an average of four stolen per day in early January of this year. Adams County legislator Rep. Adrienne Benevidez is one of the sponsors of both SB22-009 and HB22-1217, which, seek to make thefts less appealing by regulating the used converter market, requiring the devices to be registered and requiring salvagers and recyclers to keep records of who sold them converters, which makes it hard to sell stolen devices. Converters’ major components would also be added to Colorado’s “chop shop” statute, and adds materials to the commodity theft task force, allowing more focus on converter thefts. Rep. Valdez called it “a great strategy” and said he looks forward to supporting the bill if it reaches the floor for a full vote.
Note: Check back next month for our next legislative update featuring Senator Julie Gonzales
Every legislator can introduce at least five bills in their chamber each session in addition to sponsoring bills from the other chamber. Not all bills have been introduced yet this session.
How to read a bill:
HB means the bill was first introduced in the House
SB means the bill was first introduced in the Senate
22 means it’s part of the 2022 legislative session
The last numbers are unique each year to identify the bill
Bills Your Legislators are Sponsoring So Far:
Representative Alex Valdez
HB22-1030: Income tax credit for package anti-theft devices
HB22-1114: Authorizes a transportation network company to provide nonmedical transportation services to person who are enrolled in certain medicaid waiver programs
HB22-1116: Creation of a policy review panel to study plant-based medicines for mental health
Senator Julie Gonzales
SB22-023: Prohibits law enforcement officers from using deception to obtain a statement or admission from a juvenile
SB22-094: Grants property and casualty insurance claimants a reimbursement for costs of an successful appeal
SB22-103: Allows defendants who were not effectively advised of the immigration consequences of a guilty plea to petition the court for an order vacating the plea
HB22-1003: Creates a two year pilot grant program to fund projects aimed at reducing juvenile crime
HB22-1060: Creates contribution limits for school board candidates of $2,500 for individuals and $25,000 for small donor committees
HB22-1112: Extends the time requirements for reporting on-the-job injuries
HB22-1131: Changes the minimum age of a juvenile who is subject to the juvenile court’s jurisdiction from 10 to 13, except in homicide cases