31 new state laws are now in effect – The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Several new laws went into effect Sunday, not the least of which is the reauthorization of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
The future of that seven-member panel, and the division that supports it, came under fire during this year’s session from Republicans, many of whom said it unfairly favors complainants over businesses.
Some of that criticism was verified last month when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Denver baker who refused to make a special cake for a gay couple’s wedding.
While the court didn’t rule that it was permissible to discriminate against gays or lesbians, it did say the commission treated the baker unfairly in a complaint filed against him, saying the panel was unfairly hostile to the baker, violating his free-speech rights in the process.
As a result of that case, some members of the Legislature tried to alter the makeup of the commission to add more business representatives to it.
Much of that effort failed, but the panel was altered to ensure that it has more political balance. Under HB1256, introduced by House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, the commission is now limited to having no more than six members affiliated with a major party, and no more than three can be of the same party.
All that was part of a compromise that kept the commission’s core mission intact, which is to enforce the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
“By protecting a strong Civil Rights Division and Commission, we protect Coloradans from discriminating in employment, housing and public accommodations,” Duran said. “We want to make sure that Colorado is free from discrimination, and this reauthorization moves us