x
Breaking News
More () »

Here are several impactful issues that Colorado lawmakers will tackle early in the new legislative session

The new legislative session for Colorado starts Friday, Jan. 4. Senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle are crafting new bills and picking what topics to focus on for the state.

The new legislative session at the Colorado capitol starts on Friday.

Senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle are crafting new bills and picking what topics to focus on for the state.

On Tuesday, Republicans that 9NEWS reached out to didn't want to talk details ahead of opening day for the new session. 

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, a Republican, said he will be laying out priorities in a speech Friday, but did say three areas he thinks are important to focus on: funding for roads and bridges, K-12 education and health care. 

The Democrats, who have the majority in both the House and Senate, revealed a few more details about topics they're looking to take up. 

Here are five issues expected to come up relatively early in the session:

Red Flag Bill 

The Red Flag Bill will be re-introduced during this new session. It's named for fallen Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Zackari Parrish. 

RELATED: Remembering fallen DougCo Deputy Zack Parrish 1 year after his death

RELATED: More records released in DougCo ambush shooting investigation

Parrish was shot and killed New Year's Eve one year ago while responding to a disturbance at an apartment in Highlands Ranch. Four other officers and deputies were also hurt. 

The shooter was in the sheriff's office system as a "hazard," and when deputies responded on New Year's Eve, a message was sent to them calling it a "minimum two-car response" and warning that he was a "veteran suffering PTSD" who "has access to weapons" and "is hostile towards law enforcement."

Credit: Pictured on YouTube
Matthew Riehl, a veteran, is the man who fired at DougCo deputies, killing one.

If signed into law, the bill would allow family members or law enforcement to petition a court to have a person's mental health evaluated. 

If that person is considered an "extreme risk," a judge can order to have their weapons taken away for up to six months. 

This bill was introduced during this past session, passing the House, with two Republicans voting in favor for it. However, it never made it to the Senate floor and was voted down 3-2 in a party-line vote in the first committee.

The bill is expected to be re-introduced relatively early on into the new session. 

Safe Injection Sites 

Also facing a second round at the state capitol is legislation about safe injection sites.

RELATED: Do more people in Denver die from overdoses inside or outside?

The Denver City Council passed an ordinance in November to open a pilot location where people would be able to use drugs like heroin and meth in a designated location. 

There would be trained staff nearby in case someone overdoses. However, the state would have to waive a nuisance ordinance so that the building wouldn't get shut down for drug use on the property. 

RELATED: How safe injections sites would work in Denver

RELATED: Denver's plan for 'safe injection sites' still needs change in state law

Lawmakers killed the bill that would have waived the nuisance ordinance on Valentine's Day 2018. The bill is expected to be re-introduced relatively early on into the new session. 

Paid Family Leave 

Democratic Senator-Elect Faith Winter said she is planning to introduce a bill addressing paid family leave. 

Winter said the bill would create a social insurance program employers and employees would contribute to so that all Colorado workers would be able to take paid leave for having a baby, battling cancer or taking care of a dying parent. 

Winter said the bill would make paid family leave mandatory for Colorado companies, but wouldn't require tax dollars to fund because employees and employers would be contributing to the cost. 

In an email, Winter said, "Currently almost 80 percent of Colorado employees don't have paid family leave. Currently, one out of four mothers go back to work two weeks after giving birth and some cancer patients are delaying chemotherapy because the can't lose a paycheck. " 

Winter said she is re-introducing this legislation because it did not pass during the last legislative session. 

Criminal Justice Reform 

Second chances seems to be a theme for this upcoming session, which is why Democratic Representative Leslie Herod is introducing a bill to change job applications. 

"We know if you have a prior conviction in Colorado," Herod said. "When you apply for a job, you have to check a box saying you have a prior conviction. This stops people from speaking one-on-one and saying 'this happened in my past, but I'm ready to move forward and explain themselves.' We want to ban the box in Colorado so that on the interview application you can't ask someone about prior convictions but you can in the interview." 

The last time this was brought up, Herod said some businesses were worried this put too much of a limitation on their hiring process. 

State-Run Health Care

On the first day of the session, Democratic Representative Dylan Roberts said he will introduce legislation regarding health care. 

"I'm really excited to introduce a bill that would create a state-backed insurance option for people to purchase health insurance," Roberts said. "There are a lot of people in Colorado whose health insurance premiums have been skyrocketing over the last several years. And there are a lot of Colorado counties where there is only one choice on the individual market." 

Roberts said he ran legislation during the last session to study the idea, but it didn't make it past the Republican majority senate. 

He said this time around, the bill would direct the state government to determine which department this would be housed under as well as the cost associated with state-run health insurance. 

Roberts said they have been working with the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing as well as the Division of Insurance. 

He said people would still pay for their insurance but hopes this would be a third and affordable option for people in Colorado.