While the country ushers in a new presidential administration, the Colorado General Assembly has returned for its 71st legislative session. Republicans continue to have a one-seat lead in the Senate, while the House of Representatives remains firmly in Democratic control.
We expect to work on several important issues at the Capitol this session. Read on to learn more.
Fighting Restrictive Voting Laws
We expect at least one bill to be introduced requiring Coloradans to present a photo ID to vote in the days leading up to an election. Although this may seem trivial, the Brennan Center for Justice estimates that roughly one in ten voting-age citizens lacks a valid government-issued ID—and this number is far higher for minorities, senior citizens, and lower-income Americans. We will fight against any bill that would disenfranchise Coloradans who are eligible to vote.
Protecting Voting Options
Colorado’s election laws are recognized nationally as a model for providing voters with convenient and accessible voting options. Although most Coloradans vote by mail, it is still vitally important to provide Coloradans with the option to vote in-person at Voter Service & Polling Centers (VSPCs). Maintaining these options is absolutely necessary for Coloradans who need to register to vote, want to vote on an accessible voting machine, or prefer to vote in person. We will work to ensure that VSPCs maintain convenient hours leading up to election day, and that these VSPCs take measures to prevent long lines (as we saw on Election Day 2016).
Expanding Transparency of Political Ads & Mailers
We will work to ensure that voters have information about the campaign ads and mailers they receive throughout the year. The proposal would require spending for advertisements that mention candidates running for public office in the lead-up to an election to be disclosed in campaign disclosure reports and require a “paid for by” disclaimer on these materials—allowing Coloradans to do their own research into the funder. This is not currently the case, with dark money reported in communications during the 2016 election.
Expanding Open Records Laws
The ability for Coloradans to access and analyze public records is an important check on the power of government. Unfortunately, the citizen activists, journalists, and other Coloradans who dissect these documents often do not have access to documents in a workable form (such as an Excel spreadsheet). We have worked to update Colorado’s open records laws in previous years, and will work with a broad coalition to address this issue in 2017.
Check back over the coming weeks and months to learn how these issues progress through the legislative session. Questions? Contact Caroline Fry, Colorado Common Cause’s Advocacy & Media Manager, at email@example.com.
Office: Colorado Common Cause