- 1 Updates
- 2 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 3 Elected Officials
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Obamacare / ACA
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing / Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights / Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections / Worker's Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Colorado lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- HB17-1138 Requires police departments to report accurate data on hate crimes.
- HB17-1138Allow the public to know when Colorado labor officials determine that employers have cheated their workers on wages. It has passed the House committee.
Harmful bills proposed by Colorado lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- HB17-1134 Allows elected officials to be criminally charged for creating sanctuary cities and allows victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities to sue their city.
- SB 17-035 Strengthens penalties for tampering with oil and gas equipment to prevent activists from shutting off pipelines. 
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
Executive / Administrative Actions
- Governor, John Hickenlooper
- Secretary of State, Wayne W. Williams
- Speaker of the House, Crisanta Duran
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you are registered to vote.
Register to vote here. The deadline is 8 days before Election Day. Same-day in-person registration is available on Election Day. Bring proof of identification the first time you vote. A non-photo ID is requested every time you vote in person.
2018 Key House Elections
House Republicans and Democrats have named their targeted seats for the 2018 elections. Midterm elections are typically very challenging for the party in control of the federal government. Only presidents with job approval ratings above 50% have been able to stave off losses. Since 1982, the party in control has lost an average of 28 seats, so the Democrats would seem to be at an advantage. Republicans, however, are optimistic, noting that Democrats have had great difficulty getting their voters to turn out for midterm elections.
2018 Competitive House Elections
- Democrats are targeting:
- Rep. Mike Coffman (CO-06), who won the last election with 50.9% of the vote. Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential election, with 50.2% of the vote.
- Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03), who won the last election with 54.6% of the vote. Democrats believe they can turn this red seat blue.
- Republicans are targeting:
- Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), who won the last election with 55.2% of the vote. Republicans believe they can turn this blue seat red.
- Open Governor's Race in 2018, current Democratic Governor will reach term limit
- Aurora - City Council
- Colorado Springs - City Council - Districts 1-6 on April 4 
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 531,000 people in Colorado (or 9.7% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 588,000 people (or 10.8% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/25/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) This is because with a full repeal, premiums will not increase the way they would under a partial repeal, since insurance companies will be able to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions and won't be required to provide essential health benefits. Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- The number of uninsured people in Colorado is predicted to be 447,000 by 2021, under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to rise to 888,000, a 98.6% increase.
- Colorado is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 39,000 jobs could be lost in Colorado. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- Several Colorado hospitals, especially those in rural areas, are likely to have to downsize or close in the case of a repeal.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay Strategy, young adults in Colorado could pay $616 more in 2018.
- 104 people have been killed by police in the state of Colorado from 2013 through 2016.
- Black people in Colorado were 2.6 times more likely to be killed than their white counterparts.
- Among Colorado's largest cities, Aurora and Denver police departments have the highest rates of killing civilians per capita, while Colorado Springs has the lowest.
- In 2015, the American Immigration Council counted just over 500,000 immigrants living in Colorado.
- 9.5% of Coloradans are foreign-born.
- 39.5% of Coloradan immigrants are naturalized citizens who are eligible to vote.
- In Colorado, foreign-born persons who are naturalized as US citizens have significantly higher rates of educational achievement than do noncitizens.
- Colorado had an estimated 180,000 undocumented immigrants as of 2010, or 3.7% of the total population.
- 3.6% of workers in Colorado are undocumented, numbering roughly 111,000.
- Undocumented workers contribute $7.4 billion to Colorado's gross state product.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Mass deportation would deprive Colorado of $8 billion in overall economic activity, $1.3 billion in tax revenue, and $7.4 billion in gross state product.
Denver is a sanctuary city. The Denver police department released a statement in the wake of Trump's election saying that it does not plan to participate in federal immigration enforcement. About 9% of the city's budget, $175 million, is at risk of being cut off by the Trump administration.
Legislators in Colorado have introduced legislation that would limit the early voting period. Colorado does not currently allow automatic voter registration, and has no pending legislation to do so.
- In 2014, Colorado incarcerated 32,306 people—20,646 in prison and 11,660 in jail.
- 78,843 individuals were on probation, while 10,846 were on parole.
- 12.7% of the prison population was serving life sentences, while 2.9% were serving life without parole.
- Black imprisonment rates was 1,891 per 100,000, much higher than the white rate of 260 and Hispanic rate of 587.
- 0.74% of the total population was disenfranchised due to felony convictions, compared to the 3.39% of the black population.
- Colorado spent $900 million on corrections in 2014.
- Black people in Colorado were disproportionately given citations, arrested and given prison sentences in 2015.
- Marijuana arrest rates have risen dramatically for young black and Latino residents in Colorado since legalization. While the marijuana arrest rate for white 10- to 17-year-olds fell by 10% from 2012 to 2014, arrest rates for Latino and black youths rose more than 20% and more than 50%, respectively.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- Colorado residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 143,000
- Adults and children: 428,000
- Children: 250,000
- In 2015, an average of 233,113 households and 495,134 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in any given month in Colorado. In 2011, approximately 9% of the population of Colorado was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per Colorado household was $272 per household and $126 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 43,317 households received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in any given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Colorado was $462 in 2014. Average benefits in Colorado have fallen in value by 14.9% since 1996.
- In 2015, there were 9,332 Social Security recipients, receiving an average of $416.95 per person, for a total of $3,891,000.
Housing / Infrastructure
- 164,600 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Colorado had 25 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of the area median income.)
- In Colorado, there were 10,550 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 1,200 families, 1,181 veterans, 614 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 1,829 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Colorado received $428 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Colorado, more than 60,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Colorado households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Colorado’s infrastructure received a score of C+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2010.
- This study gave the state “good” scores for air quality, aviation and solid waste, and identified energy, transit, roads and education as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 16.7% of Colorado’s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 70% of Colorado’s roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $287 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
- According to Governor John Hickenlooper (D), increasing highway capacity is a major infrastructure goal for Colorado.
- In Denver, new commuter rail lines will start operating later this year as part of the FasTracks project.
- Colorado has 21 Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, 14 centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 52,762 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were 36 abortion providers in Colorado in 2015.
- In 2014, 19.5 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Colorado had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- Parental notice is required for minors.
- Private insurance coverage is limited.
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
Women and Wages
- In Colorado, 11.6% of women live in poverty. Single mothers make up 33.7% of women living in poverty, while women age 65 and older make up 8.2%.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.81, which is one cent above the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.64 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.54 for every dollar made by white men.
Domestic Violence in Colorado
- In 2014, 16,700 people reported one or more domestic violence crimes to law enforcement. Many other victims/survivors did not contact law enforcement.
- In 2014, 25 people were killed by former or current intimate partners; almost 70% of those were killed with guns.
- In 2014, 1,018 people were abducted by current or former intimate partners. More than half were abducted by current or former dating partners.
- In a 2014 survey of 78% of domestic violence programs in Colorado, it was discovered that on the day of the survey, the participating programs reported serving 904 victims/survivors; 163 were turned away due to lack of resources.
- Approximately 325,000 Coloradans are stalked in their lifetimes.
- Update: On January 25, a state House panel rejected a Republican-led effort to pass a "religious freedom" bill for the third year in a row.
Religious freedom law
Colorado does not have any religious freedom laws. Religious Freedom laws protect the right of people to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. However, after same-sex marriage was legalized, conservative states have attempted to enact similar laws with provisions that allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
Colorado has passed nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, foster care, insurance, credit, jury selection and state employment, but not for adoption.
- Colorado state legislature could soon consider a law protecting minors from conversion therapy.
Colorado has passed nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in second-parent adoption and laws granting parental presumption and de facto parent recognition for same-sex couples. The state has not passed surrogacy laws, nor laws prohibiting discrimination in foster care, and does not have a law on consent to inseminate (meaning that in case of the insemination of one member of a female same-sex couple, the partner not carrying the child is not automatically recognized as parent).
Hate crime laws
Colorado does include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group, but does not have required reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
Colorado has passed anti-bullying laws covering cyberbullying and directly mentioning LGBTQ+ youth, and does require transgender inclusion in sports, LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education and LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies. It does not have laws requiring school suicide prevention policies, protecting against conversion therapy, or addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness.
Health and Safety
Colorado does include LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections in ACA exchanges, collects data on LGBTQ+ health and bans insurance exclusion for trans health care. It does not include transgender healthcare in state Medicaid or inclusive health benefits for trans state employees. The state allows gender marker changes on drivers' licenses but not birth certificates, and has passed HIV/AIDS criminalization laws.
- Colorado considered a so-called “bathroom bill” in 2015, but it was not enacted.
- Colorado is ranked 41st in the US per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $5,036 per student.
- As of 2013, Colorado ranked 31st in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $49,844 per year.
- 90% of students in Colorado attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 54% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 10.9% of total public school enrollment.
- Colorado's overall graduation rate is 77%, which is slightly above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates are as follows:
- White: 83%
- Latino: 67%
- Black: 69%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 84%
- American Indian: 61%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 64%
- Limited English Proficient: 59%
- Students with Disabilities: 55%
Consumer Protections / Worker's Rights
- Colorado’s minimum wage is $9.30, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 but lower than Colorado’s living wage of $11.33.
- Colorado has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Colorado has no state law for paid family leave.
- Colorado is a state with no Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can not prohibit unions, that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers, from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. They are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- Colorado is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason, with no adverse legal consequences.
- Colorado also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Colorado does allow for implied contract exemptions. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Colorado does not support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted the Covenant in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- More than 58% of Colorado's electricity generation is Coal with the next source being nonhydroelectric renewables at a little over 22%.
- Colorado has 20 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 36 percent of Colorado land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Black and Latino adult population had the highest air pollution exposure indices at 65 and 57 respectively, compared to an overall index of 45 and a White index of 40.
- In 2012, Native American (13.3%), Mixed/other (12.8%) and Black (11.3%) adults were the most likely to have asthma compared to an average of 8.6% and 8.8% of the White population.
- The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.
- 10.4% of Colorado residents live with a disability.
- 28% of Colorado residents with disabilities are employed, while 68% are not in the labor force. These figures are almost completely reversed for Colorado residents without a disability.
- According to 2015 figures, 30% of individuals with disabilities in Colorado were below 150% of the federal poverty line at some point during the preceding year, compared to 17% of the Colorado population with no disability.
- Colorado's VOTE! program, developed in the wake of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), conducts outreach to Colorado residents living with disabilities or mental illness and/or experiencing homelessness to make voter registration more accessible and to remove any technical barriers that individuals face in the voting process.
- Individuals living with disabilities in Colorado are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act, and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. .
- In Colorado's prison system, it is illegal for correctional officers to place individuals with mental illness in solitary confinement.. Colorado law also guarantees individuals living with mental illness who are detained pre-trial the right to treatment within a month of arrest.
- Some individuals living with disabilities are eligible for health-care benefits through both Colorado's MediCare and MediCaid programs, but navigating dual eligibility can be difficult. To reduce barriers to care, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) and the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) started an Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC) Medicare/Medicaid Program that strives to improve care coordination for dually eligible individuals. Colorado is one of 12 states in the nation participating in the program.
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
- Where's Cory?, organization to hold Cory Gardner accountable
State and Local Disability Rights Organizations
- Alliance: "Colorado Communities United for People with Developmental Disabilities"
- Center for People with Disabilities Independent Living Center (ILC) with locations in Boulder, Broomfield, Longmont, and North Metro.