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 toward that goal."
In all, 31 new laws went into effect Sunday. Here's a rundown on some of them:
■ SB68 now makes it a crime to make a false report of an emergency, which also is known as "swatting." That refers to someone calling in an emergency — a SWAT team — where one doesn't exist, either as a prank or to intentionally put someone in harm's way.
There have been several incidents of swatting nationwide, including a survivor of the Parkland shooting in Florida. Other incidents have resulted in police officers shooting, and killing, the target of the prank.
The bill was introduced by Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, and Reps. Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, and Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village.
■ SB230 attempts to get at the issue of so-called forced pooling. That's when a mineral rights owner, who is part of a drilling unit but doesn't want to access those mineral rights, chiefly oil and natural gas, is forced into doing so when others in the unit agree.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, and Reps. Lori Saine, R-Docono, and Matt Grey, D-Broomfield, grants immunity to any non-consenting mineral rights owner if there is a legal issue resulting from the pool.
■ HB1051, introduced by Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Frisco, and Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, makes it a misdemeanor for anyone who fails to reasonably attend a campfire or fails to thoroughly extinguish one before leaving a campsite.