Rep. Robert Marshall, D-Highlands Ranch, recently held a town hall to update the public on what he has been doing with the legislature out of session, and talking about his plans for the upcoming 2024 session.
Marshall said he celebrated several summer community activities and attended Douglas County’s PrideFest.
He also took part in sessions at Wind Crest Senior Living, along with Rep. Elisabeth Epps, D-Denver, to speak about his decision to not approve the assault weapons ban bill.
Marshall recently attended the National Conference of State Legislatures as he was appointed to the Task force on State and Local Taxes, also known as SALT. The force identifies issues the legislature needs to address and provides guidance to states by developing model principals for tax reform and modernization.
At the conference, Marshall said he regained interest in requiring braille on prescription bottles to be compliant to those who are blind.
“Not like every little thing,” said Marshall. “But like the basics, the name, the dosage, expiration [date].”
Additionally, Marshall is currently on the Interim Committee on Tax Oversight.
According to the Colorado General Assembly website, the committee is required to define the scope of tax policy to be considered, consider policy considerations within the tax expenditure evaluations by the state auditor, recommend legislative changes and study tax policy.
Marshall also spoke about the lawsuit he and Epps filed jointly against the Democratic party and Republicans for violating Sunshine laws during the 2023 session. Marshall said the law needs to be modernized because texting is a form of talking and is a record.
“There are people that may not want to see it addressed,” said Marshall. “Because it’s very easy to say there’s no way we can follow any of these laws. If we actually change it and we have workable rules, well, then you’re gonna be expected to follow because you have no excuses.”
In early September, Marshall and Epps entered into a consent decree with the Colorado House of Representatives, the chamber’s Democratic and Republican caucuses and partisan leadership in the chamber.
According to a Colorado Sun report, as part of the settlement, which must be approved by a judge, the defendants agreed to not discuss public business or take a “formal action” during a meeting where a quorum of a state body is expected to be in attendance without first providing public notice of the gathering and promptly making minutes of the meeting publicly available.
Three bills Marshall brought last session that he may bring back again but in a different form were the Tax Teacher Credit, the County Commissioner Election and the Law Enforcement Professionalization (Hatch Act).
“I definitely believe in them,” said Marshall.
If passed, the Tax Teacher Credit would create a refundable state income tax credit for eligible public school teachers for tax years 2023 through 2026 and increase state expenditures and reduce state revenue through the 2026-2027 fiscal year.
The County Commissioner Elections bill would have required counties with populations of 70,000 or more to have five county commissioners instead of three. This would have affected seven counties, including Douglas County which currently has three commissioners and a population of over 368,000.
The third bill, also referred to as the Hatch Act, would limit the political activities of county sheriff office employees.
Marshall referred to this bill as three in one, which included the DoD regulation on extremism into law enforcement and nonpartisan elections of district attorney’s and sheriffs. Two of the three pieces were taken out and the piece Marshall said he went forward with was applying the Federal Hatch Act to law enforcement.
“It got watered down to the point where all it was going to require was, you could not engage in partisan political activity while in uniform or using government property,” said Marshall.
Marshall clarified that when uniformed officers go to the legislature to testify, they are testifying in the capacity of a law enforcement officer. He said the bill would have limited being in campaign ads and walking door to door in uniform with partisan candidates.
Marshall said he has continued to talk to the state’s attorney general about the issue.
Besides pushing to have braille on prescription bottles in 2024, Marshall said he is also looking at Jail Disparity Studies after noticing the population of African Americans seems to have been consistent over the past two years in the Douglas County jail. The first-term representative said he would like to have a neutral demographer do a study to see what is happening.
Other ideas centered around the attorney general’s lawsuit against the EPA, making collected data easily accessible to the public, a disaster area casualty loss deduction to help homeowners impacted from the tornado and vacancy appointments.
Two topics Marshall wants to continue to focus on in the upcoming sessions are housing and mental health.
Marshall plans to hold his next town hall in October.