Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – Mar. 2021

By Doris Beaver ~

House Bill 21-1048:

HB 1048 concerns “a requirement that retail establishments accept United States currency for purchases (if an individual accepting payment is present).”

While HB 1048 does not specifically pertain to the over 50 crowd, any requirement that requires purchases be paid for with means other than cash would most probably affect that segment of the population more than any other. As years pass, citizens designated as “elder” or “Senior” are known for becoming less trusting of financial institutions.

During the recent pandemic, there were infrequent cases where some businesses requested customers make purchases with means other than cash. The idea did not get a great deal of publicity, but perhaps that was the source of the idea. 

The Legislative Council Staff, under Colorado law, must include certain information in the fiscal note for any bill that creates a new crime, change the classification of an existing crime, or changes as an element of an existing crime.

The new offense of failing to accept United States currency is a class 2 petty offense – as noted in the fiscal note, a comparable crime would be refusing access to an employee restroom. While the necessity of such a bill may seem a little absurd, legislators may be looking at some of the regulations necessitated by the pandemic. Statistics included in HB 1048 revealed zero offenders have been convicted and sentenced for this offense from Fiscal Year 2017-2018 to Fiscal Year 2019-2020.

HB 1048 takes effect 90 days following the adjournment of the General Assembly sin die, assuming no referendum petition is filed.

Sponsors of House Bill 21-1048:  Representative Alex Valdez, D-Denver, 303-866-2925. No sponsor in the Senate at this writing. 

House Bill 21-1110:

HB 1110 concerns the addition of language to relevant Colorado statutes “related to persons with disabilities to strengthen the protections against discrimination on the basis of disability.” 

The provisions added to current statutes are:   

  • Prohibiting a person with a disability from being excluded from participating in or being denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity;
  • Clarifying that such prohibition includes the failure of a public entity to substantially comply with web content accessibility guidelines established by an international consortium; and
  • Any Colorado agency with the authority to promulgate rules shall not promulgate a rule that provides less protection than that provided by the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, ” as amended, 42 U. S. C. sec. 12101 et. Seq. 

HB 1110 contains this clarification:  “Discrimination pursuant to this section (C.R.S. 24-34-802) includes that failure of a public entity to substantially comply with the most recent web content accessibility guidelines promulgated and published by the World Wide Web Consortium accessibility initiative or the International Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, or any successor group or organization, or any subsequent updates or revisions to such guidelines by any successor group or organization.” A statutory fine of three thousand five hundred dollars is to be paid to each plaintiff. 

HB 1110 takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on the day following the expiration of the ninety-day period after final adjournment of the General Assembly, except if a referendum petition if filed. 

Sponsors of House Bill 21-1110:  Representatives David Ortiz, D-Arapahoe, 866-2953 (and several other representatives). No sponsor in the Senate at this writing.

House Bill 21-1113:  

The General Assembly points out in the legislative declaration of HB 1113 that there is little consistency among the fifty states regarding the taxation of military retirement benefits. 

  • Military retirees are being advised to find out how much of their hard-earned pensions will be taxed in what states before putting down their retirement roots. 
  • While Colorado does not fall into the ten states identified in a recent publication as the least-friendly income tax states for military pensions, Colorado is also not on the list of the best states. That is because Colorado still taxes, as income, a portion of military retirees’ benefits. and
  • Support for military retirees in Colorado is of utmost importance in order to honor the sacrifice and service of veterans and to create an incentive for more veterans to make their post-military homes in the state.

HB 1113 concerns the income tax deduction for military retirement benefits. The fiscal note for HB 1113 provided an estimate of 7,000 taxpayers deducted a total of $31.5 million from their 2019 tax returns under previously passed HB 18-1060, reducing their income tax due by about $1.5 million, as provided by Colorado’s Depart of Revenue. 

(Note):  HB 18-1060 created a state income tax deduction for military retirement income for tax years 2019 through 2023. The state deduction is allowed to taxpayers under age 55, as taxpayers who are 55 and over are eligible to claim the preexisting pension and annuity deduction. 

Language in the bill admonishes the General Assembly and the state auditor to measure whether or not military retirees are benefiting from the tax expenditure set forth in this subsection (4) (y), and by how much. 

Sponsors of House Bill 21-1113:  Representative Mary Bradfield, R-El Paso,  

Doris Beaver

Doris Beaver

Doris Beaver is a free lance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues, and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com, or e-mail her at doris@dorisbeaver.com.

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