It’s an election year for Colorado state legislators, and according to the Colorado Catholic Conference, that could translate into a milder and less controversial legislative session at the Capitol.
Contentious legislation and volatile debates characterized last year’s session, which legalized civil unions and passed strict gun control measures.
“In the aftermath of the last session, there will be certain issues that are unlikely to be brought up by the majority party during the upcoming session,” said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, the state-level, public policy arm of the Church. “Two of those issues are gun control and the death penalty, but that doesn’t mean that one or both of these issues won’t get brought up by the minority party.”
But a bipartisan bill regarding human trafficking is expected this session.
“The issue … of the year seems to be human trafficking,” Kraska said. “Both Republicans and Democrats want to hop-on-board this issue.”
Raising awareness about Colorado’s statistically high rate of sex trafficking is one goal of the bill, she said.
The state reportedly has one of the highest rates of sex slavery per capita. In July, federal agents targeted Denver in one of its nationwide strings to free enslaved children.
“In Colorado, one of the big pieces that are missing in terms of victims of human trafficking is there’s not a place they can go to heal. Now victims are put into foster care or child protective systems,” Kraska said.
The conference will advocate Catholic Charities’ services and more comprehensive resources to help victims.
Pro-life bills are also expected to surface this session, including ones banning abortion and sex-selection abortions. In a Democrat-controlled assembly, however, these bills are not expected to pass, she said.
As is tradition, a resolution acknowledging Catholic schools is expected during Catholic Schools Week between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1.
The first few days of the session will be ceremonial, Kraska said.
Speaker of the House Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, and President Pro Tempore Lucía Guzmán, D-Denver, will address the House and Senate.
Gov. John Hickenlooper will give the State of the State address.