Session Overview

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve made it through another annual Colorado legislative session! AIA Colorado has identified 44 bills of interest to our membership this year. Before your eyes glaze over, here’s four easy steps to find the bills relevant to you:

  1. Check out the categories below and jump to the ones that interest you.
    1. Everyone (yes everyone) ought to at least skim the bills in the “Practice of Architecture and Firm Management” category.
  2. Look at the line below the bill title to see who it affects. If you fit the bill, read on!
    1. If a bill affects members, it’s aimed at us as individuals.
    2. If a bill affects architects, it’s about the work we do.
  3. For more in-depth information, the title of each bill links to its more details and full text.
  4. It’s okay to ask questions! Email or call 303-228-3914.

You can also take a look at this infographic for an overview.

Important notes:

  • Not all bills passed have been signed by Governor Polis yet. However, we believe every bill passed will be signed into law.
  • When does a new law go into effect? A good rule of thumb is 90 days after the session ends, or August 2, 2019. The final paragraph of each signed bill will have the specifics.

Bill Categories:

  • Practice of Architecture and Firm Management
  • Architectural Licensing
  • Contracts, Liability, and Tort
  • Construction Trades and Workforce Development
  • Sustainable Design
  • The Environment and Climate Change
  • Community Development and Resiliency
  • Transportation and Electric Vehicles
  • Affordable Housing
  • Historic Preservation

Practice of Architecture and Firm Management

There was an increase in bills passed that will add protections and rights for jobseekers and employees. Except for our members who truly sole practitioners, these will be relevant to our entire membership.

PASSED: HB19-1025: Limits on Job Applicant Criminal History Inquiries

Affects: Members with any criminal history
Affects: Architecture firms and their principals as employers

  • Except in specific circumstances, employers cannot advertise that a person with a criminal history may not apply for a position and may not inquire about criminal history on an initial application. This does not prevent employers from obtaining a publicly available criminal background report.

PASSED: HB19-1267: Penalties for Failure to Pay Wages

Affects: Members who have been the victim of wage theft
Affects: Architecture firms and their principals as employers

  • This bill increases penalties for employers who refuse to pay wages, including reclassification as theft.  For amounts greater than $2,000, wage theft is now a felony. The bill also changes how wage claims are handled after bankruptcy has been declared.

PASSED: SB19-004: Address High-Cost Health Insurance Pilot Program

Affects: Members who are part of a health care coverage cooperative
Affects: Members who live in Eagle and Garfield counties.

  • This bill modernizes health care coverage cooperatives and incorporates additional consumer protections. A cost-reduction pilot program may also be implemented (subject to a feasibility study) to let Eagle and Garfield county residents, who’s income is between 400%-500% of the federal poverty line, participate in the state employee group medical benefit plan.

PASSED: SB19-085: Equal Pay for Equal Work

Affects: Members who are employees of a firm or business
Affects: Architecture firms and their principals as employers

  • This bill strengthens employee protection from wage discrimination:
    • Employees who believe they are the victim of wage discrimination based on sex can now bring civil action against their employer.
    • Clarifies acceptable systems for wage differentials that are not based on sex, such as seniority, merit, geographic locations, etc.
    • Prohibits employers from seeking wage histories or using prior wage rates to determine a wage rate.
    • Clarifies types of prohibited actions by employers that are considered retaliation against employees relying on protections listed in this bill.
    • Employers have new transparency requirements for advancement opportunities and openings.

PASSED: SB19-188: FAMLI Family Medical Leave Insurance Program

Affects: Members considering having children
Affects: Architecture firms and their principals as employers

  • The version of this bill that passed will fund a study of how to fund comprehensive, state-wide, paid family leave. The original bill proposed immediate implementation of paid family leave insurance, funded by premiums deducted jointly between employers and employees. However, there were widespread concerns about the specifics of the new insurance system that could not be addressed during this year’s legislative session.

Architectural Licensing

This year saw very few attempts at bills that would affect architects as a licensed profession. It’s not uncommon for libertarian-leaning lawmakers to introduce bills targeting Colorado’s licensure system, and this year was no exemption. However, with the Democratic party in control of both the House and Senate, these bills don’t have a viable path to passage.

LOST: HB19-1040: Professional Land Surveyors Continuing Education

Affects: Architects licensed in Colorado

  • This bill did not pass but was of interest because land surveyors are part of the same licensing board as architects and engineers.

LOST: HB19-1117: Regulation of Professions and Occupations Reform

Affects: Architects licensed in Colorado

  • This bill did not pass but would have altered the criteria used by the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies to use the “least restrictive regulation necessary” to regulate professions and occupations. While this bill did not target architects specifically, bills of this nature generally put every licensed profession on notice for potential de-licensing outside the typical sunset review process.

Contracts, Liability and Tort

AIA Colorado opposed SB19-169 as originally introduced, which would have forced businesses who have certain IT contracts with the state to install invasive monitoring software. As part of a broad coalition of stakeholders, we helped get the software section removed from the final version of the bill that passed.

We didn’t see any bills passed that had direct liability or tort issues for the architecture profession, but we closely monitor any legislation in this vein that affects licensed professionals in Colorado. These efforts can help us spot trends or gain insight into priorities for the groups supporting these bills.

 PASSED and SIGNED: SB19-076: CDOT Colorado Department of Transportation Consulting Engineering Contracts

Affects: Potential future implications architects working on projects funded by state money.

  • This bill affects professional engineering contracts with CDOT. These contracts can no longer be hourly, which the state believes incentivizes consultants to work as many hours as possible. This does not directly affect architects, but we will watch how this plays out as it may affect future state contract terms.

PASSED and SIGNED: SB19-109: Adjust Damages Limitations for Inflation

Affects: Members who may be served lawsuits for noneconomic loss or injury.

  • This bill raises damage caps and ties them to inflation for certain categories of lawsuits, including the serving of alcohol to minors, noneconomic loss or injury, and wrongful death. While these categories either don’t or very rarely apply architects who get sued, additional efforts are likely in upcoming legislative sessions that may affect our members.

PASSED: SB19-169: Project Management Competencies for Certain Contracts

Affects: Does not affect architecture profession as passed. Was opposed by AIA Colorado as introduced.

  • The final version of this bill doesn’t affect our members, but there’s an interesting backstory. The original intent was to require certain vendors with state contracts to install monitoring software, which would verify the hours billed match the hours actually worked. This was only supposed to apply to IT project contracts, but the vague language was still cause for concern. The final bill does not have any software monitoring requirements.
  • This bill was backed by a company who makes the monitoring software, who’s been introducing similar bills across the country in 2019. Many of these bills explicitly included all professional services in their scope above certain contract dollar amounts. As we all know, our work can’t accurately be measured by time spent in front of a computer. AIA and ACEC chapters have been successful in efforts to defeat or favorably amend these bills in every state it’s been introduced.

Construction Trades and Workforce Development

Architects in Colorado already know that we have a shortage of skilled labor in multiple building trades and that the result is more expensive construction costs and longer construction times. The legislature is addressing the issue by promoting and supporting apprenticeships and technical programs in both the K-12 and higher education realms.

PASSED and SIGNED: HB19-1008: Include Career and Technical Education in Building Excellent Schools Today Program

Affects: Architects who do K-12 education work affected by BEST grants
Affects: Architects affected by construction costs in Colorado

  • This bill expands the scope of BEST grants to fund career and technical education programs, including construction projects and equipment procurement.

PASSED and SIGNED: HB19-1035: Remove Fee Cap Electrical Inspection Local Government Higher Education

Affects: Architects working in areas with limited electrical inspector options

  • This bill removes an existing cap on electrical inspection fees by local governments and institutions of higher education. While this will raise some inspection fees, it may also increase the number of available electrical inspectors who were not previously willing to work under the state-imposed cap on their services.

PASSED and SIGNED: SB19-097: Area Technical College Grant Program

Affects: Architects with technical college clients
Affects: Architects affected by construction costs in Colorado

  • This bill will make grant money available for area technical colleges to fund specified capital construction and equipment purchases. Architects whose clients include these colleges are encouraged to look at how these grants may benefit future projects.

PASSED: SB19-196: Colorado Quality Apprenticeship Training Act of 2019

Affects: Architects who work on projects with state funding
Affects: Architects affected by construction costs in Colorado

  • Public construction projects over $1 million with any state funding will now favorably consider bidders whose subcontractors utilize formal apprenticeship programs. Certain public construction projects over $500,000 will be required to pay prevailing wages at weekly intervals.

Sustainable Design

For our members who incorporate sustainability into their work, especially as part of a recognized framework (LEED, Green Globes, Living Building Challenge, etc.), there are numerous bills advancing sustainable design practices and put requirements into statute.

  • AIA Colorado supported HB19-1260, which promotes the use of newer versions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This is a big jump from the current law that only requires the 2003 version of the IECC. Members should be aware that this will be a phased implementation across the state though, since local governments still set their own update cycle.

PASSED: HB19-1003: Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act

Affects: Architects who incorporate renewable energy sources into their sustainability work.

  • This bill promotes the creation of more community solar gardens in Colorado, by increasing their allowable maximum capacity loosening restrictions on where they can be located.

PASSED and SIGNED: HB19-1050: Encourage Use of Xeriscape in Common Areas

Affects: Architects who work on projects managed by common interest communities.

  • This bill adds protections to unit owners in a common interest community who wish to use water-efficient landscaping in lieu of more water-intensive plants or lawns. It also expands water conservation requirements for certain entities that manages open spaces.

PASSED and SIGNED: HB19-1200: Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater Point of Compliance

Affects: Architects who use reclaimed domestic wastewater into their sustainability work

  • This bill authorizes the development of onsite disinfection/treatment standards for reclaimed domestic wastewater to be reused in the same building.

PASSED: HB19-1231: New Appliance Energy and Water Efficiency Standards

Affects: Architects who specific high-efficiency appliances/fixtures in their sustainability work

  • Over the next three years, light fixtures, appliances, and plumbing fixtures sold in Colorado must meet applicable efficiency standards. These standards also apply to items such as air conditioners, commercial cooking equipment, and computers/monitors.

PASSED: HB19-1260: Building Energy Codes

Affects: Architects who work in Colorado

  • This bill will require that local governments adopt one of the three most recent version of the International Energy Efficiency Code when updating any other building codes. The bill also encourages local governments to report their current codes to the Colorado Energy Office.

PASSED: SB19-221: CO Water Conservation Board Construction Fund Project

Affects: Architects who incorporate water conservation in their sustainability work.

  • This bill appropriates $10 million to various water conservation-related projects, funds, planning, and other services.

The Environment and Climate Change

These bills may not directly impact the work we do daily but are in line with AIA’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy use, and combat climate change. These aren’t easy issues to tackle, but it’s a positive sign that Colorado recognizes that different approaches at different levels can help break things into more manageable components. This year saw major effort in tracking greenhouse gas emissions, laying the groundwork for measurable reduction goals moving forward.

PASSED: HB19-1261: Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution

Affects: Members concerned about sustainability and climate change

  • This bill sets specific statewide goals for greenhouse gas emissions, starting with a 26% reduction in 2030.

PASSED: SB19-096: Collect Long-Term Climate Change Data

Affects: Members concerned about sustainability and climate change
Affects: Colorado residents in general

  • This bill will implement comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions data collection for certain emitting entities. The state will have final say on what classifies as an emitting entity but is to base their rules on the federal classification (which primarily targets power plants or similar scale entities). This data will assist in ongoing greenhouse gas reduction efforts

PASSED and SIGNED: SB19-181: Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations

Affects: Members with oil and gas industry clients
Affects: Architects who consider air quality issues on or near their project sites
Affects: Colorado residents in general

  • This is a big (contentious) bill that changes how the oil and gas industry is regulated by the state. The overall goal is to foster development of oil and gas resources in a manner that balances development with protection of the health, safety, and welfare, and environment of the state. The following changes have been made to further this goal:
    • Local governments no longer must rely on areas already designated by the state before implementing applicable land use authority powers.
    • The state is directed to review and update leak detection and repair rules for extraction sites.
    • Local governments are granted the authority to regulate oil and gas locations to minimize adverse impacts to public safety, health, welfare, and the environment.
    • Counties now have the authority to regulate noise from production sites.
    • Updates the composition and purpose of the state oil and gas conservation commission.

PASSED: SB19-236: Sunset Public Utilities Commission

Affects: Architects who support CO2 emission reductions in their sustainability work.

  • This bill is a broad update of Colorado’s public utilities commission. Utility planning will now have to consider the cost of carbon dioxide emissions when acquiring electric generating resources or retiring existing utility generation.

Community Development and Resiliency

The architecture profession relies on healthy, growing communities and the following bills address topics such as wildfire mitigation, school funding, and resiliency planning.

AIA Colorado supported HB19-1292, which provides funding for full-time staff within the Colorado Resiliency Office. We look forward to ongoing partnership opportunities at both state and local levels to further advance resiliency efforts in Colorado.

PASSED: HB19-1006: Wildfire Mitigation Wildland-Urban Interface Areas

Affects: Architects who work on projects in higher fire hazard areas in Colorado

  • This bill will make grants available for wildfire mitigation efforts in areas covered by a community wildfire protection plan.

PASSED: HB19-1055: Public School Cap Construction Financial Assistance

Affects: Architects who work on K-12 education projects

  • This bill allocates additional marijuana excise tax revenue to the BEST assistance fund for K-12 schools.

PASSED and SIGNED:HB19-1087: Local Public Meeting Notices Posted on Website

Affects: Architects who work with local governments

  • This bill allows local governments to post public meeting notices on their website in lieu of physical notices.

PASSED: HB19-1272: Housing Authority Property in Colorado New Energy Improvement District

Affects: Architects who work on projects in energy improvement districts

  • This bill creates tax and special assessment exemptions for qualified properties within energy improvement districts.

PASSED: HB19-1292: Colorado Resiliency Office Reauthorization Funding

Affects: Colorado residents in general

  • This bill funds a full-time director and staff positions for the Colorado Resiliency Office. This office manages disaster response/recovery efforts and will develop local community resiliency programs.

PASSED: SB19-040: Establish Colorado Fire Commission

Affects: Architects who work on projects in higher fire hazard areas in Colorado

  • This bill creates a fire commission and describes the scope of its purpose to enhance public safety. Future work by this commission may inform our work as architects with respect to fire management and community resiliency.

PASSED: SB19-107: Broadband Infrastructure Installation

Affects: Members working in areas underserved by broadband infrastructure.

  • This bill authorizes electric utilities to install or allow broadband infrastructure within existing easements under their control.

Transportation and Electric Vehicles

The legislature made some modest progress in transportation funding, but of particular interest seems to be ongoing support for electric vehicles. Bills passed this year for electric vehicle owners and charging station operators (both for utilities and in the private sector)

PASSED: HB19-1159: Modify Innovative Motor Vehicle Income Tax Credits

Affects: Architects who accommodate electric vehicle infrastructure into their sustainability work

  • This bill updates and extends tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles through 2030.

PASSED and SIGNED: HB19-1198: Electric Vehicle Grant Fund

Affects: Architects who accommodate electric vehicle infrastructure into their sustainability work

  • This bill will make grants available for the installation and operation of electric vehicle charging stations.

PASSED: HB19-1298 Electric Motor Vehicle Charging Station Parking

Affects: Architects who accommodate electric vehicle infrastructure into their sustainability work

  • This bill establishes rules for parking and use of designated electric vehicle charging spaces.

PASSED: SB19-239: Address Impacts of Transportation Changes

Affects: Architects who work on projects that incorporate new transportation technologies

  • CDOT will convene a stakeholder group to review adoption of new transportation technologies, with an emphasis on incentivizing adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

Affordable Housing

Affordable housing continues to be an issue in communities throughout the state. This year the legislature’s approach was to increase incentives and supplementary funding available to encourage developers to pursue affordable projects. An attempt was also made to give back control to local governments implement rent control, but the bill didn’t find support.

PASSED and SIGNED: HB19-1011: Scope of Manufactured Home Sales Tax Exemption

Affects: Architects who design factory-built housing

  • This bill exempts factory-built housing from various sales taxes and clarifies that “manufactured homes”, defined elsewhere in statute, are included.

PASSED and SIGNED: HB19-1135: Clarify Income Tax Credit for Retrofitting a Home

Affects: Architects who do home renovations for increased accessibility

  • This bill clarifies that a homeowner can claim existing income tax credits for improving the accessibility of their home for the purpose of benefiting a qualified dependent.

PASSED and SIGNED: HB19-1238: Clarification of Manufactured Housing Standards

Affects: Architects who design factory-built housing

  • This bill updates requirements for state approval of altered or repaired factory-built structures.

PASSED: HB19-1245: Affordable Housing Funding from Vendor Fee Changes

Affects: Architects who work on affordable housing projects

  • This bill increasing the sales tax allocation to a state affordable housing fund.

PASSED: HB19-1319: Incentives Developers Facilitate Affordable Housing

Affects: Architects who work on affordable housing projects

  • The state will develop a list state-owned or controlled undeveloped real property that could be developed into affordable housing. This bill also modifies an existing property tax exemption that applies to certain affordable housing developments.

PASSED: HB19-1322: Expand Supply Affordable Housing

Affects: Architects who work on affordable housing projects

  • This bill establishes criteria to allocate additional funding to the housing development grant fund and to hire staff to manage expenditures from the fund.

LOST: SB19-225: Authorize Local Governments to Stabilize Rent

Affects: Architects who work on multi-family residential projects

  • This bill was an attempt to give local governments the ability to implement rent control or related measures to increase housing affordability for renters. There was widespread opposition and this bill failed on the Senate floor.

Historic Preservation

There were some mixed results this year for historic preservation in Colorado. On a positive note, the state historic fund will continue to benefit from gambling revenue if the upcoming ballot measure to approve sports betting passes.

PASSED and SIGNED: HB19-1078: Landowner Consent Listing National Register

Affects: Architects who do historic preservation work

  • This bill requires additional consent from landowners whose property has been included in a multiple property documentation form. These forms are used as reference material by the state historical society as part of the application process for a property to be listed on the national historic register.

PASSED: HB19-1327: Authorize and Tax Sports Betting Refer Under Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights

Affects: Architects who do historic preservation work

  • The state historic fund is supported by casino gambling revenue. Included in this bill is a provision that sports betting (if approved by voters) will also allocate a portion of its revenue to the state historic fund as well. The intent is to offset the potential that casino revenues will decrease if sports betting is legalized.