The Colorado Legislature convened this last Wednesday (Jan 10). Over the following 120 days, they will likely pass hundreds of law, many affecting the lives of everyone in the state.
However, we at ColoradoCAL will focus only on those which stand to directly and meaningfully impact the communities that we represent.
We have reviewed the first 155 bills filed in the first few days of the session, and these are the three that we believe deserve attention from our members.
This bill would establish a family leave insurance program, operated by the state, which would compensate employees for lost wages if they have to take otherwise unpaid leave from work in order to care for a sick or injured family member. The program would be funded by a small payroll withholding (less than 1%).
The important thing to note in this bill is how they define "family".
In addition to "immediate family" (defined as someone related by blood, marriage, civil union, or adoption) and "domestic partners" (defined as same-sex individuals in an exclusive relationship, greater than one year, with an intention to continue indefinitely), the law would also allow the individual to designate one additional person, each year, as family for the purposes of this leave, without restriction or definition of who may be included.
This could potentially allow our polyamorous families to take family leave to care for a partner who is not their spouse.
We are currently investigating the extent of any other restrictions which may not be immediately apparent and for now, we are simply monitoring.
This bill would add Colorado to the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), which has been created to facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries.
Basically, this would allow psychologists from other states to offer online mental health services to Colorado residents and vice versa.
Since locating mental health professionals with knowledge, awareness, and acceptance of members of alternative communities can often be challenging, we believe that making more professionals available to serve Colorado residents can only be a benefit to our communities.
Important to note is that the compact was launched in 2015 and only goes into practice once at least 7 states have joined. Currently, only three states have joined (Nevada, Utah, and Arizona). Colorado is one of four states considering joining this year (the others are Nebraska, Missouri, and Illinois). If all four pass, the compact will become active. The psychological licensing boards of 5 other states (Rhode Island, Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, & New Mexico) have endorsed the compact and are encouraging their state to approve it, but no legislation has yet, been introduced.
This bill makes it easier for individuals to change the gender on their birth certificate.
Under current rules, individuals are required to undergo a surgical procedure, change their name, and obtain a court order. And even then, they only receive an "amended" birth certificate.
Under the proposed law, individuals would only need to obtain a statement from a health professional stating that the individual is undergoing some form of treatment or is intersex, and that a change in gender marker is justified. The individual could then receive a new original birth certificate, not just an amended one. The new law would no longer require a legal name change.
This bill will have our full support.
As the legislative session progresses, we will continue to monitor filed or amended legislation for items which are of particular concern for our communities.
One such bill that we anticipate will be introduced soon, based on our conversations with lawmakers, will prohibit sexuality conversion therapy for minors. We will let you know when that arrives.
You can find out who represents you at the state legislature, and how to contact them, by entering your address into the map on the Colorado General Assembly website here.
Note: As a 501(c)3 charity, ColoradoCAL is permitted to engage in limited lobbying activity pursuant to the restrictions and regulations of the IRS. ColoradoCAL remains in full compliance by using unpaid volunteers to gather and disseminate this information, as well as to advocate on our behalf at the capitol. If you have any concerns about this activity, please feel free to contact us.