The CWBA Public Policy Committee and our dedicated and hardworking lobbying team at Aponté & Busam have worked diligently throughout the unusual 2021 legislative session to achieve success on a number of priority bills for the CWBA. The CWBA monitored the budget process and 23 bills during the 2021 legislative session. While much of the legislative session focused on addressing COVID-19 relief and spending, the CWBA had significant success in a wide range of women’s issues, including economic stability, maternal health, equal employment, and survivor rights.
Of the 623 bills proposed during the 2021 legislative session, the CWBA prioritized 23 bills: of those 23, we took action to support 11 bills as “Support Level I,” opposed 2 bills, and monitored 10 other bills as “Support Level II.”
The following bills were successfully passed into law or sent to the governor for signature:
HB21-1011 Surrogacy Agreements
This bill creates the Colorado Surrogacy Agreement Act that establishes the rights and obligations of parties entering into surrogacy agreements and the specific requirements to create and enforce these agreements.
HB21-1108 Gender Identity Expression Anti-Discrimination
This bill modifies the definition of sexual orientation and adds gender expression and identity as a protected class to several statutes that prohibit discrimination. This prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender expression or identity in areas such as employment, housing, financial services, healthcare, access to/participation in public services, education, youth services, transportation, and criminal justice.
HB21-1143 Protecting Survivor Rights to Rape Kit Evidence
This bill sets forth disclosure requirements for medical professionals in cases with sexual assault survivors and requires notification and the ability to object to evidence destruction, even after the assailant may no longer be prosecuted for the crime. Any medical professional conducting a medical forensic exam is now required to inform the victim of this information, along with other survivor rights and advocacy resources.
SB21-073 Civil Action Statute of Limitations on Sexual Assault
This bill modifies the current six-year statute of limitations for a civil claim based on sexual assault or sexual offense against a child and removes several additional restrictions and provisions related to these claims. The bill applies to causes of action on or after January 1, 2022, or for causes of action accruing prior to January 1, 2022, if the six-year statute of limitations has not expired.
SB21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act
This bill allows a party who is a victim of sexual misconduct that occurred when the victim was a minor to bring a civil action for damages against the actor who committed the misconduct. If the misconduct occurred at a youth organization or youth-related activity, the victim could also bring a claim against the managing organization of that youth program or activity. This also removes governmental immunity if the perpetrator was a public employee or agent. The cause of action applies retroactively; victims whose assault occurred between January 1, 1960, and January 1, 2022, may bring a cause of action by January 1, 2025.
SB21-142 Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest
This bill eliminates the facility and provider restrictions on abortions in cases of rape or incest and allows for reimbursement for these services when performed by any health facility or any licensed health care provider that acts within the scope of their license and in accordance with applicable federal regulations.
SB21-251 General Fund Loan Family Medical Leave Program
This bill creates a one-time state transfer of $1.5 million from the General Fund to defray expenses incurred by the Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, before the division receives premium revenue or bond proceeds. This bill specifies that money in the fund may be used to repay the loan from the State Treasurer.
The CWBA provided Level II Support to bills that also align with the CWBA’s goals and missions, such as multilingual ballot access for voters, measures to address law enforcement accountability, expansion of insurance coverage, and other initiatives related to maternal and perinatal health.
The CWBA also provided Level II Opposition to 2 bills proposing anti-choice legislation: (1) a bill that would limit licensed physicians from performing abortions except in limited circumstances, making the offense a class 1 felony; and (2) a bill that would require health care providers to report certain information for induced terminations of pregnancy, making the failure to do so grounds for a report of unprofessional conduct or for discipline.
A key focus of the CWBA was a bill regarding workplace harassment. The POWR Act (SB-176) set forth broad protections and revisions to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) and requirements for employers to implement training in how to handle discrimination claims. Unfortunately, despite tireless work from both the CWBA, our lobbying team, and individual members of the CWBA and Colorado Plaintiff Employment Lawyers Association (PELA), we were unable to secure the vote of all Democratic members of the committee, and the bill was postponed indefinitely. Although the CWBA’s efforts did not achieve the desired result on this piece of legislation, the CWBA expects that the concept of this bill will be reintroduced and hopes much of the work that was done will be useful in the future.
Click here to download and read the full 2021 Legislative Session Wrap-Up Report prepared by our lobbyists.
The Public Policy Committee will continue its tireless efforts during the Second Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly set to convene on January 12, 2022. If you are interested in joining the Public Policy Committee or gathering more information, connect with Laura Wolf or Alison Connaughty, your 2021-22 Public Policy Committee Co-Chairs. The Public Policy Committee meets the second Thursday of each month at 9:30 a.m. Check out our Events Calendar for the next meeting details and to RSVP.
Chelsea Augelli is an associate attorney at GEM Family Law, LLC, and focuses her practice exclusively on family law matters. Chelsea graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she received the prestigious Civil Litigation Clinic Outstanding Student Lawyer award. Chelsea has been involved with the Colorado Women’s Bar Association since her time as a law student and has joined the CWBA Public Policy Committee to further her engagement in policy matters that affect the rights of women, children, and families. Chelsea is a Colorado native and enjoys taking advantage of the Colorado outdoors, yoga, watching Colorado Avalanche hockey, cooking, live music, and learning about wine.