Grappling with Colorado’s property taxes, attracting data centers, gun bills and more from the legislature last week

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Property tax commission recommends tweaks as ballot proposal battle heats up

A bipartisan group of Colorado policymakers approved nearly a dozen recommendations to soften the pinch of property tax increases Friday, including an “adjustable cap” on future hikes and mechanisms to spread out hefty tax bills.

The recommendations approved by the Property Tax Commission will go to lawmakers for possible legislation in the coming weeks as state leaders continue to grapple with structural issues challenging Colorado’s property tax system. The commission was formed during the November special session after a ballot measure aimed at long-term reform to property taxes, and backed by Gov. Jared Polis, failed at the polls.
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Legislation promotes construction of data centers. Not everyone supports the idea. Here’s why.

A bill that would provide state tax rebates to draw data centers to Colorado has run into opposition from critics who warn of the facilities’ large demands for energy and water and potentially higher costs for other electric customers.

The legislation would offer state sales and use tax rebates for construction materials and equipment starting in 2026. Senate Bill 24-085 declares that investing in projects such as data centers “is crucial for the economy of the future” and Colorado, considered a growing high-tech hub, is falling behind in attracting the facilities.
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Gov. Jared Polis signs bill exempting lawmakers from parts of open-meetings law

Colorado lawmakers are now exempt from parts of the state’s open-meetings law after Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill that legalizes longstanding practices challenged by transparency advocates.

Polis signed SB24-157 into law with immediate effect on Tuesday, a day after the bill cleared the House and a month after the measure was first introduced by legislative leaders. The quick stamp of approval from the governor came as the League of Women Voters of Colorado had publicly urged him to veto the measure, while the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition had scheduled a meeting with his office to discuss the bill and other legislation related to transparency.
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Bill making it easier to repair cellphone, electronic devices passes Colorado House

Coloradans would have an easier time repairing cellphones and other personal electronic devices under a bill passed by the state House on Tuesday, the latest in a slew of “right-to-repair” legislation considered in recent years here.

House Bill 24-1121 would require manufacturers of various personal electronic equipment — like cellphones and video game consoles — to provide replacement parts, software and information about repairs to third-party shops and consumers. That, supporters say, would open the market for repairs outside of manufacturers’ control and make it cheaper and easier to fix gadgets, while hopefully cutting down on repairable equipment ending up in landfills.
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Colorado senators propose new fee on alcohol producers to fund addiction treatment and recovery programs

A bill set to be unveiled in the Colorado legislature would levy a new fee on businesses that produce alcoholic beverages, then direct tens of millions of dollars collected each year to addiction treatment and recovery programs.

Sen. Kevin Priola, a Democrat from Henderson, said he plans to introduce legislation Wednesday to create a “state enterprise” that would collect a fee from alcohol producers and wholesalers, with some exceptions for small companies.
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Gun bills, property tax reform, construction defects and new economic forecasts in the Colorado legislature this week

This week will bring a major mid-March milestone in the Colorado legislature’s quickening sprint toward the end of the 120-day session.

The Joint Budget Committee, which is in the process of writing the budget for the next fiscal year, which starts in July, will hear the final economic forecasts before lawmakers debate and vote on the budget. Predictions of economic conditions, tax collections and the overall budget picture will dictate how much money the lawmakers feel comfortable spending this coming year.

Also, a half-dozen bills concerning firearms are scheduled for votes this week, including two that are on the brink of passing their first chamber.
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Colorado considers mandatory minimum prison sentences for human traffickers

On most days, Alicia was sent to a Denver-area hotel room, where a steady stream of people would show up and pay for sex.

From 9 a.m. to 4 a.m., she’d take call after call after call. And then she’d go home to her pimp, and he’d demand sex, too. Slap her around if she resisted. When she got pregnant with his child, she thought he’d let her out of the life.

When her perpetrator was arrested, Alicia was too terrified to walk into the courthouse. She didn’t have a phone because he’d tracked her that way before, so she didn’t tune into virtual court hearings. Eventually, he got probation, largely because Alicia didn’t participate in the court process.

Now, Alicia is speaking out in support of a bill in the Colorado legislature that would extend the statute of limitations on adult human-trafficking charges from three years to 20 years, giving prosecutors two decades in which to pursue criminal charges and survivors more time to come forward about the crimes. The bill also, more controversially, sets up mandatory minimum prison sentences for those convicted of human trafficking.
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Who’s on trial in a sex assault case? Colorado bill aims to protect victims from questions about clothing.

The clothing rack set up in a Colorado Capitol hallway displayed a T-shirt and jeans, a child’s pink cardigan with a polka-dotted mini skirt, and an Army sweatshirt with shorts.

The outfits represented everyday clothing worn by women and girls across the country when they were sexually assaulted. Labeled with brief descriptions, each outfit was meant to counter the myth, still pervasive at times in American culture and courtrooms, that a victim of rape might have invited the sexual contact.

State lawmakers are debating a bill aimed at strengthening protections for Colorado sex assault victims by expanding the rape shield law to prevent certain evidence — including what a victim was wearing — from being used by defendants in court as proof of consent.
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Westminster wrestles with housing reform as legislators eye a statewide intervention

Jodi Lovejoy can look out the window of her Westminster apartment and see the mountains of the Front Range. She can track the rolling clouds and watch the weather change over the peaks, something she used to do with her children. The neighborhood is quiet, dotted by mature trees. She doesn’t own the two bedrooms she’s shared with her daughter for the past eight years , but the apartment feels like home.

Still, Lovejoy wishes she could own. She’s grown accustomed to the annual negotiation with her landlord about her rising rent. Last year, she hired a Realtor and explored Westminster’s housing market. But the market was too competitive, the homes she saw needed too much work, the HOA fees too expensive.

The circumstances weighing upon Lovejoy — a tight housing market, high rents, limited options outside of a traditional home — aren’t unique to her. Nor are they unique to Westminster: Like other Front Range cities, the suburb has struggled to address a shortfall of housing units and rising costs that have displaced lower-income residents and limited options for future generations. The city finds itself whipsawed between vocal residents who are opposed to more development and concerned about resources, and a statewide housing crisis that legislators and Gov. Jared Polis are eying with impatience.
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