Monday marked 90 days since the end of the 2020 legislative session, and that means that bills signed into law that had petition clauses are now in effect.
The measures change Columbus Day to Cabrini Day, give National Guard troops a pay raise, cut hair-based discrimination and boost economic development programs for rural communities.
Normally, those bills would go into effect at least a month earlier, but were delayed because lawmakers took a 73-day break because amid the pandemic.
The normal 120-day session was instead just 84 days and ended on June 15.
The 90-day wait allows citizens who may want to challenge a law passed by the General Assembly time to launch a petition drive. Such drives are exceedingly rare and have only happened twice in the last 100 years: in 1932 and in 2019, which is how the ballot measure asking voters about National Popular Vote got on this year's General Election ballot.
So what's new in the law this week? It's mostly, but not entirely, bills that lawmakers didn't feel the need to rush into the law through a safety clause, which puts measures into effect upon the governor's signature. That's 61 bills from the House and 35 from the Senate.
Topping the list: the end of Columbus Day in Colorado and the beginning of Frances Xavier Cabrini Day, to be celebrated on the first Monday in October. This year, that will be October 5. The change is the result of passage of House Bill 1031, a three-year effort by Democratic Rep. Adrienne Benavidez of Adams County. Cabrini was suggested by Colorado's Italian-American community as a way of resolving years of conflict over Columbus.
Cabrini Day will be the first paid holiday in the state named after a woman. Eleven states have already changed their Columbus Day holidays.
Cabrini was the Italian native and Catholic nun who started several charitable organizations in Colorado, including the Queen of Heaven orphanage in Denver and a summer camp for girls that is now the home of the Mother Cabrini Shrine. She was canonized in 1946.
The CROWN Act went into effect Monday. This law — Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2020 — prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public education for hairstyles tied to race, including "hair texture, hair type, or a protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race, such as braids, locs, twists, tight coils or curls, cornrows, Bantu knots, Afros, and headwraps."
Two laws dealing with rural economic development also went into effect Monday. House Bill 1003 extends the state's rural "Jump Start" Act for another five years. The program was started in 2015. It provides tax credits to approved businesses that locate inside a "rural jump-start zone," along with creating a relationship with a public college or university, or vocational school. HB 1003 modified the competition clause in the law to prohibit a new business applying for the to locate in the same zone or contiguous zone.
Senate Bill 2 puts into statute the rural economic development grant program within the Department of Local Affairs. It provides grants to create new jobs in rural communities.
Senate Bill 32 allows employees aged 18-21 who work at liquor-licensed drugstores to sell or otherwise handle liquor. They can't deliver it, though.
As of Monday, dogs can be on restaurant patios with the permission of the establishment, under Senate Bill 78.
Those serving in the National Guard who are at the lowest end of the Guard's pay scale will see an increase in pay under Senate Bill 91. Prior to Monday, the minimum pay was $20 per day, which for a 12-hour day (and that's common) meant about $1.67 per hour. Under SB 91, that pay for those with at least six years of service will increase to $88.80 per day, or about $7.40 per hour, just above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Gov. Jared Polis has activated the National Guard several times this year, to help with election cybersecurity, to protect state and municipal buildings and to help with the pandemic, particularly with testing at senior care facilities. That latter call has been extended to December 31. About 120 National Guard are on duty for the pandemic.
And lest you think that's the end of it, think again. Another 14 bills have implementation dates past Monday, extending all the way to January 1, 2025. The bill that goes into effect in 2025 is HB 1026, which creates a new 23rd judicial district for Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties.