Colorado lawmakers bring 2021 session to a close

Politics

DENVER (KDVR) — Lawmakers have closed the 2021 session but they worked through a lot of legislation before wrapping it up and there was opposition.

They covered everything from criminal justice to regulating marijuana and of course new fees for people in Colorado.

“This year, we made history by actually having one of the most productive sessions in the history of the General Assembly,” said House Speaker Alec Garnett. 

Garnett said he is proud of the work lawmakers were able to get done this year. In the final days, House members passed a bill giving agricultural workers the right to unionize and rest periods. Those against it fear the bill could be detrimental to the industry.

“It applies sort of standard rules that you would see of someone clocking into a factory let’s say. So, every half an hour or so, you can take a break or whatever. Often in ag, it just doesn’t work that way. Like if I’m mowing hay, am I going to need to stop?” House Minority Leader Hugh McKean said.

Lawmakers are also sending a measure to the governor that will prohibit restaurants from giving out plastic bags for free starting next year. Restaurants will instead give out paper bags at a cost of 10 cents for customers.

Those opting to get the food delivered will be met with other fees coming by way of increased delivery fees, are also part of the state’s massive transportation bill.

A measure to end the use of cash bail and limit arrest for low-level offenses died Monday night after failing to get enough support from Democrats.

A bill that did pass is getting pushback from the community. The measure limiting the amount of medical marijuana to 8 grams for most Coloradans. It lowers the limit to 2 grams for people 18 to 21 to reduce access to kids. Some young people say they don’t think it’ll be effective.

“I don’t understand why it’s specifically people 18-21. Like if you’re so worried about brain development issues related to THC, why not do it for 17 and under too? So it just makes no sense and it’s not really the government’s business to be capping when it’s really between the patient and the doctor,” said Alexis Bortell, a teenage marijuana refugee from Texas.

Garnett is the lead sponsor on this bill. He believes the bill-making process took everyone’s thoughts into account and he says the governor will sign it.

Governor Jared Polis released this statement following the wrap up of the session:

“I want to congratulate the Colorado General Assembly on this historic legislative session. Together, we are powering the Colorado comeback by jump starting our local economies, revitalizing main streets across the state, modernizing our transportation system, saving Coloradans money on health care, expanding our parks and beautiful outdoor spaces, tackling climate change, expanding access to preschool for all Colorado kids, improving mental and behavioral health services, and opening up affordable housing opportunities, just to name a few. These last few months have been some of the most productive on record, all while responding to a global pandemic and getting vaccines into arms across our state. In the coming weeks and months, we will be working to implement these landmark pieces of legislation, helping Colorado recover faster and stronger than ever before.”

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