Compromise reached on Civil Rights Division re-authorization - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Compromise reached on Civil Rights Division re-authorization

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Three months ago, Democratic lawmakers and civil rights groups rallied on the west steps of the State Capitol in support of the re-authorization of the Colorado Civil Rights Division. Instead of automatically renewing funding for the agency, Senate Republicans called some changes. The Democrats didn't see anything wrong with the existing process and they still don't.

"I think the commission right now is fair and balanced," said Rep. Leslie Herod, Democrat from Denver. She sponsored House Bill along with House Speaker Crisanta Duran and State Senator Robert Gardner.

But Republican State Senator Robert Gardner said that many of his colleagues felt the commission had a blind spot towards conservative viewpoints. The senators wanted the legislature to exert more control over who got picked to serve on the panel.

"That certainly is what my constituents believed," Gardner said.

House Bill 1256 cleared its chamber without making any changes to the nomination process for civil rights commissioners. In the Senate, it picked up several amendments that would have expanded the board from six seats to nine. Leaders in the two legislative chambers would have been empowered to select four of the board's members.

Most of those amendments were stripped away during the conference committee process. 

"What we were trying to achieve was a fair, equitable commissioner that would protect the rights of all Colorado citizens," Gardner said.

He ultimately voted against the bill after the conference committee because he wanted it to include a super-majority vote of confirmation in the Senate for Commission nominees.

Under the rules, the Civil Rights Commission has expanded to seven members. The Governor will still appoint them and they must be confirmed by the Senate. At most, only four of the seven commissioners can come from the same political party. At least one commissioner must be unaffiliated or a member of a minor party.

Three commissions must represent the business community while four of them must be individuals who come from protected classes.
Finally, state auditors will now review the Commissions work every four years.

"At the end of the day we want to make sure that Colorado is free from discrimination and that's what the commission does, it enforces our anti-discrimination laws," Herod said.

If Governor Hickenlooper signs the re-authorization bill into law, then new board selection rules will be implemented July 1. The law will be up for renewal again in the year 2027.?

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