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The Colorado Senate Democrats on Wednesday issued the following press release on the first five bills of the legislative session, including a housing bill by state Sen. Dylan Roberts of Frisco:
The Colorado Senate Democrats unveiled their First Five bills of the 2024 legislative session today.
The bills aim to maintain access to critical mental health support for students, make Colorado safer, improve support for Colorado’s veterans, protect our state’s dwindling water supply, and incentivize long-term rental housing.
“Democrats have made significant progress these past few years, from saving people money and improving public safety to supporting our schools and taking bold action to address climate change, and now we’re ready to keep the momentum going to move our state and our communities forward,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder.“This session, we’re laser focused on tackling the issues that matter most to Colorado families, and I look forward to positioning our state well for the future and building a stronger, safer and healthier Colorado for us all.”
“Over the past few years we’ve worked hard to make Colorado a great place to live, work, and raise a family. This year, we’re returning to the Capitol to build on our progress and deliver results that position our state well for the future,” Senate Majority Leader Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver, said. “ This session, Democrats will continue to address the issues that are top of mind for folks and pass policies that ensure every Coloradan has the resources they need to thrive.”
Senator Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City
Representative Kyle Brown, D-Louisville
Colorado Democrats are committed to expanding quality mental health care and setting students up for success. The I Matter program connects K-12 students with a therapist for up to six free virtual counseling sessions, with some in-person appointments available. This bill would make the I Matter program permanent.
Senator Dylan Roberts, D-Frisco
Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, Representative Lisa Frizell, R-Castle Rock
SB24-002 would allow local governments to establish property tax incentive programs to address critical issues related to housing and economic development, including alleviating housing shortages. For example, under the bill, municipalities and counties would be able to authorize tax credits or rebates that incentivize property owners to convert rental properties from short-term to long-term, boosting the availability of workforce and more permanent housing.
Senator Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial
Representative Meg Froelich, D-Greenwood Village
In order to make Colorado safer, SB24-003 would give the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the ability to investigate illegal activity involving firearms. The bill appropriates $1.7 million to the Department of Public Safety to create a team that investigates known prohibited convicted felons attempting to illegally purchase firearms, and other illegal firearm violations such as ghost guns.
Creating a framework within the CBI to address illegal transfers, ghost guns, and investigations based on tip line requests would help to improve safety across the state, especially in rural and underserved areas.
Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, Senator Byron Pelton, R-Sterling
Representative William Lindstedt, D-Broomfield, Representative Lisa Frizell, R-Castle Rock
SB24-004 would increase the efficiency of County Veterans Service Offices, which provide free assistance to veterans and their families. Currently, some counties receive state funding for veterans service officers (VSOs) even if the VSO is not accredited with the federal government, and therefore unable to help veterans file claims. This bill would tie funding for VSOs to the number of accredited VSOs in a given county and their hours worked, ensuring offices are able to meet the needs of veterans and efficiently prepare and present claims all throughout Colorado.
Senator Dylan Roberts, D-Frisco, Senator Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa
Representative Karen McCormick, D-Longmont, Representative Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango
Outdoor watering of landscaping uses about half of all municipal water. Much of this is used to grow non-native turf grass, which requires large amounts of water to thrive. While some of this turf is used for parks, sports fields, and yards, much of it serves no community purpose, such as highway frontages and strips alongside industrial properties. The state has supported turf replacement as a key tool for water conservation, and now this bill focuses on limiting its installation in the first place.
SB24-005 would promote water-wise landscaping by prohibiting the installation of nonfunctional turf, invasive plant species, and artificial turf on commercial, institutional, industrial, and state properties. This would help the environment not only by saving water, but eliminating the need for lawn chemicals and emissions from lawn equipment, while opening up space for native plants that survive in Colorado’s climate with little maintenance and support our local birds and bees.