2006 Colorado Immigration Reform Legislative Summary - Defend Colorado Now
Defend Colorado Now
Updated June 22, 2012
This summer has been an immigration reform roller-coaster ride. In June, the Colorado Supreme Court twice denied The People of Colorado their right to vote on whether their tax dollars are spent on those unlawfully in Colorado. Governor Owens berated the Court for their obvious political meddling and called a special legislative session that convened on July 6, 2006.
There were two options for the call: a narrow call to refer the initiative to the ballot and a broad call that would include the possibility of a legislative solution. For a number of reasons (see perspective and letter) we supported the broad call with the understanding that if strong legislation could not be passed, we would insist on referring the initiative to the ballot.
Otto von Bismarck stated, "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made." Yet this intense, five-day session most assuredly was worth observing. There were long intervals of hurry up and wait, followed by moments of feverish activity and panic. It is unfortunate that more immigration reform activists did not make the time to watch the session, for those who aim to change politics need to understand and participate in the process.
We commend Governor Owens who brought together two polarized political parties on the issue - no easy task. Republicans generally supported the original objective of DCN and pushed to refer the initiative to the ballot for a vote in November. Democrats generally opposed the referral, but indeed came to the table to pass immigration reform legislation. Meaningful legislation was passed by both houses and we thank all who voted for this legislation. We believe the legislation passed was the best that could be obtained under the circumstances. Certainly it could be better, but it is an excellent gain for immigration reform. We're much better off than we were two weeks ago and we have results now, not a year from now.
The 55,000+ signatures obtained for the DCN initiative clearly made a difference. Both political parties heard The Peoples' voices - loud and clear - and responded accordingly.
Bills passed in July, 2006
Below is a summary of bills passed by both houses. On July 31, 2006, Governor Owens signed these ten bills. In addition, two bills will go directly to the voters in the November, 2006 election.
HB 1001 - Employers must demonstrate they don't have illegal alien workers in order to qualify for state economic-development grants, loans and incentives. Effective on or after October 1, 2006.
HB 1002 - State health officials must treat all persons, regardless of immigration status, in the event of an epidemic or communicable-disease outbreak. Effective immediately.
HB 1009 - Colorado will deny state business permits and professional licenses to illegal aliens. Effective January 1, 2007.
HB 1014 - The Colorado attorney general must seek reimbursement from the federal government for all illegal-immigration costs incurred by the state. Effective immediately.
HB 1015 - A person who pays someone for services and reports the payment on IRS form 1099-MISC must withhold state income taxes at the rate of 4.63 percent if the worker fails to provide a correct taxpayer ID number or provides an IRS-issued taxpayer ID number issued for nonresident immigrants. Main provision is effective January 1, 2008.
HB 1017 - Requires employers to attest that employees are legally in the country and that the employer has not altered or falsified the employee's ID documents. It requires employers to maintain copies of identification for new employees and authorizes random inspections. This bill is a good foundation toward necessary employer sanctions against hiring illegal aliens, but it does not mandate use of the federal Basic Pilot program to verify immigration status. DCN hopes this serious flaw will be corrected in the next legislative session. Employers must comply starting January 1, 2007.
HB (House Bill) 1023 - The most important reform bill to come out of the session. This bill limits state services to illegal aliens and embodies the essence of the DCN initiative and is similar to section 9 of the strong Georgia bill passed in 2006.
HB 1023 requires each applicant who applies for public benefits to affirm that they are lawfully present in the country, and thus denies most non-emergency services to illegal aliens over the age of 18. Those seeking benefits must present valid ID (from a list determined by the Colorado Department of Revenue) and sign a non-notarized affirmation of lawful presence. If a legal alien utilizes a green card, verification of the A-number is confirmed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services via the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement (SAVE) program. Illegal aliens will continue to receive federally mandated services, including K-12 education, but are denied a multitude of previously obtainable services. Effective immediately.
SB (Senate Bill) 4 - Makes it a felony to extort services from illegal aliens through threats based on their immigration status. Effective immediately.
SB 5 - Makes it a felony to coerce involuntary servitude by withholding or destroying immigration documents or making threats based on person's immigration status. Effective immediately.
SB 7 - Makes it a felony for people to vote in an election in which they are not entitled to vote. Effective immediately.
DCN is pleased that two measures will be referred to the voters in November to limit tax deduction for illegal alien wages and to demand Colorado's Attorney General sue the federal government to demand enforcement of federal immigration laws. These measures, although clearly different from the Defend Colorado Now initiative, will win the overwhelming support of Colorado voters in November:
HB 1020 - Should employers who cannot verify an employee is a legal U.S. resident be prohibited from claiming that employee's wages as a deductible business expense? It would apply to employees hired on or after January 1, 2008, and who were paid $600 or more in one year. The measure was referred to the voters in the November, 2006 election and was passed by the voters.
HB 1022 - Should the state attorney general sue or join with other states in suing the federal government demanding "enforcement of all existing federal immigration law" by the federal government? The measure was referred to the voters in the November, 2006 election and was passed by the voters. However, the suit was thrown out by a federal judge in 2007.
Bills passed in the regular 2006 legislative session
SB 90 - Requires law enforcement officials to report suspected illegal aliens when they are arrested to federal immigration officials, except in cases of domestic violence and minor traffic violations. Prohibits state and local governments from enacting policies that stop cooperation with immigration officials, thus making sanctuary cities illegal. Effective May 1, 2006.
HB 1306 - Requires an audit of 2003 law (HB-1224 - The Colorado Secure and Verifiable Identity Document Act that limits the use of identification issued by foreign governments, thus prohibiting general acceptance of the Mexican Matricula Consular ID card. Effective August 7, 2006.
HB 1343 - Requires state contractors to use the federal Basic Pilot database to check the immigration status of new hires. Denies state contracts to businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Effective August 7, 2006.
SB 110 - Making counterfeit identification documents is punishable by a $50,000 civil fine. Effective May 30, 2006.
SB 206 - Makes human smuggling and paying someone to sneak an illegal alien into the country a state felony. Effective May 30, 2006.
SB 207 - Makes human trafficking and selling adults into indentured servitude or prostitution a state felony. Effective May 30, 2006.
SB 225 - Creates a new unit of state troopers (12 in the first year and 24 the next year) specially trained to investigate human smuggling. Effective June 6, 2006.
We thank you, The People of Colorado, who circulated and signed petitions. You made the crucial difference in 2006 in Colorado. Our work is not done - we must continue to demand immigration reform at the state and federal level, including enforcement of existing laws.
For more information:
New era for Colorado - Owens puts pen to tough immigration bills aimed at
identifying legal citizens, by Myung Oak Kim, Rocky Mountain News, August 1, 2006.
New era on immigration - Owens signs package of bills; effects felt today, by David Migoya, Denver Post, 8/1/2006.
Immigration law casts wide net - Effects to be felt all across state, local government, by Myung Oak Kim, Rocky Mountain News, July 29, 2006.
100,000 will have to prove status - State's clients must show legal residency, by Myung Oak Kim, Rocky Mountain News, July 28, 2006.
Legislators gather to pass a good but imperfect bill on services to illegals, Fred Elbel, Defend Colorado Now, Rocky Mountain News, July 15, 2006.
- DCN 2006 legislative summary, including a list of bills signed into law.
- DCN August 1 and July 12 news releases on the legislative session.
- For more information on bills, go to www.leg.state.co.us and then go to the Bills sections under the House and Senate.
- Information on the SAVE and Basic Pilot programs.
- Georgia legislation overview and comparison to Colorado legislation.
- Full Georgia legislation (or see this copy).
- DCN legislative perspective.
- My perspective on the legislative versus constitutional approach - by Dick Lamm.