By Anaya Robinson, Senior Policy Strategist
Shortly after launching The Road Ahead, a three-year strategic framework to guide our work at the ACLU of Colorado, we jumped into the hard work ahead at the Colorado State Capitol.
In the 2022–2023 legislative session, our staff, members, supporters and activists worked shoulder-to-shoulder with 86 allies and partners across Colorado on 58 bills that aligned with the key issue areas outlined in The Road Ahead: Smart Justice, Systemic Equality, and Privacy and Liberty. We also laid the groundwork for strengthening civil rights protections for data and technology and continued our efforts to codify civil rights and liberties into Colorado state law and the Colorado Constitution to protect against future rollbacks at the federal level.
ACLU staff members testified 46 times on 28 different bills in the session. The legislation covered key concerns across all three issue areas prioritized by the ACLU. Overall, it was a successful session for our organization and partners: 77 percent of the bills we supported were passed by state legislators, and 73 percent of the bills we opposed were rejected.
|Caption: Anaya Robinson, ACLU of Colorado's Senior Policy Strategist testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing at the State Capitol.
- Prioritized care over handcuffs for hundreds of children each year by increasing access to mental and behavioral health resources instead of the juvenile justice system. These bills aim to reduce youth recidivism, suicide, stigma and school drop-out rates.
- Fought for a public health approach to the overdose crisis by defeating a bill that would have charged accidental overdoses as homicides. Similar laws in other states have been proven to increase overdoses by up to seven percent instead of reducing drug supply because they discourage people from calling for help.
- Protected immigrant families and communities by prohibiting local law enforcement from incarcerating people in immigration detention.
- Secured bedrock federal constitutional protections by supporting a bill that puts Miranda rights into Colorado law for the first time, safeguarding against any future rollbacks by the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Improved access to housing for renters, who are disproportionately lower income and people of color, by ending income requirements and capping rental deposits at no more than twice the monthly rent.
- Created alternatives for people with disabilities receiving Social Security benefits and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to get more support prior to eviction proceedings, increasing their chances to stay in their homes.
- Expanded the Warranty of Habitability, a law that requires rental units be safe and fit for people to live in, to ensure better protection for renters after natural disasters and environmental events. This will increase housing stability rather than displacement or eviction.
- Protected housing stability across Colorado by expanding the claims through which a court should find an eviction unenforceable to include discrimination.
Privacy & Liberty
- Supported the Colorado Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Coalition in protecting access to reproductive and gender affirming care in Colorado, regardless of the state of residence of the person seeking care and protecting providers offering these medical services.
- Increased health equity for people with lower and middle incomes by decreasing financial barriers to reproductive care and STI and HIV counseling, prevention, testing, and treatment.
- Fought back against reproductive health disinformation by maintaining consumer protections for patients seeking accurate information about reproductive care to ensure transparency and timely access to the care they need.
We look forward to connecting with ACLU members and communities across the state to explore how, together, we can build on the successes of this session and collectively identify our legislative priorities for 2024.