March 7, 2016

   The death penalty continues to be on the radar of the Colorado General Assembly, and whether you are pro or con, the postponed indefinitely (killed) action on Senate Bill 16-064 will most likely persuade anyone on the fence into the crowd seeking to abolish it altogether – it's called "taking baby steps to accomplish the abolishment."

   SB 064 would have changed the requirement from unanimous agreement for imposing the death penalty to 9 out of 12 members. Fewer than 9 members voting to impose the death penalty would have resulted in a verdict of life imprisonment. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to postpone indefinitely the Republican sponsored bill on February 10, 2016. At the time, there was no sponsor in the Senate.

   Also of interest to you hunters, Senate Bill 15-119 was postponed indefinitely on February 10, 2016. SB 119 would have deleted certain animals (deer, elk, pronghorn and other species) from the landowners preference program for hunting licenses, instead authorizing the parks and wildlife commission to include these animals in the program. Current law excludes moose, rocky mountain bighorn sheep, desert bighorn sheep and rocky mountain goats from the landowner preference program for hunting licenses. The parks and wildlife commission's guidelines for animal objectives of the game management unit have to be met, depending on where the property is located.

House Bill 16-1191:  Titled "The Creation of a Bill of Rights for Persons Experiencing Homelessness," (short title "Colorado Right to Rest Act") includes a legislative declaration by the General Assembly all readers should give careful thought to and remember "except by the grace of God, there go I."

  • Many persons experience homelessness because of economic hardship, a severe shortage of safe and affordable housing, the inability to secure gainful employment, and a disintegrating and shrinking social safety net;
  • Responding to the growing crisis of homelessness with criminal sanctions to push people out of public spaces and into courts and jails is costly, inhumane, ineffective and violates basic civil, human and constitutional rights;
  • The existence of homelessness requires [that]civil and human rights that are amply protected in the home and in other private places be extended to the public spaces in which persons experiencing homelessness live to ensure the equal rights of all Coloradans;
  • Cities throughout Colorado are enacting and enforcing laws that criminalize basic acts of survival, such as sleeping, sitting, loitering, sleeping in a legally parked vehicle, having a reasonable expectation of privacy in personal property, storing belongings, asking for help and using a blanket to cover oneself in a non-obstructive manner regardless of outdoor temperature. Such laws result in people in Colorado being criminally punished for doing what any person must do to survive;
  • Local ordinances of this kind do not reduce the incidence of homelessness or crime. Instead, they increase incarceration rates and the financial indebtedness of people who simply have no means of supporting themselves. The local ordinances prolong homelessness by making it more difficult for people to secure housing, employment and medical care;
  • While these local ordinances apply to all residents of a city or municipality, they disproportionately impact people experiencing homelessness. They are often selectively enforced against people based upon their appearance or an assumption of homelessness; and
  • Prohibiting local governments from passing or enforcing laws that disproportionately impact persons experiencing homelessness, or that have the direct intent to impact persons experiencing homelessness, allows local governments to redirect resources and shift the focus from law enforcement to positive approaches that directly address homelessness and poverty.

   HB 1191will address these aspects of homelessness set forth in the legislative declaration – shame on any lawmaker voting against the bill or to kill, and any government employee testifying against the bill as was done in the 2015 legislative session.

The fiscal impact analysis acknowledges "state expenditures will increase as a result of new legal rights, including increased security and maintenance requirements impacting state agencies that own or maintain property." The analysis also includes these details:

  • The expenditures of local entities will increase to amend rules, regulations and policies; to monitor the security of persons experiencing homelessness and their possessions; and to manage public spaces;
  • At the same time, the number of individuals jailed or prosecuted for activities covered by the bill will be reduced, decreasing associated local expenditures (e.g., the cost to house an offender in county jails varies from about $53 to $114 per day);
  • RTD anticipates annual costs of over $2 million for security and custodial services across its territory; and
  • Law enforcement is likely to be involved in any solution that involves the use of public space, and the bill is likely to require the implementation of new training and procedures, as well as ongoing costs to protect both the homeless population and the general public.

Sponsors of House Bill 16-1191:  Representative Joseph A. Salazar (D-Adams) 866-2918 and Jovan Melton (D-Arapahoe) 866-2919. No sponsor as yet in the Senate.

House Bill 16-1263:  Profiling is always a topic of highly-charged debate and in today's diverse population make-up. HB 1263, if passed and enacted, will modify "the prohibition in current law against racial profiling by law enforcement by changing the definition to include the practice of relying on race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identify, age or disability (listed characteristics)" in the following situations:

  • selecting a person to be subject to routine or spontaneous investigatory activities, including interviews, detentions, traffic or pedestrian stops, frisks or other bodily searches, or searches of personal or real property; or
  • determining the scope, substance or duration of an investigation or law enforcement activity to which a person will be subjected.

   In addition, the bill expands the prohibited practice of profiling to include:

  • not using profiling in making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions, except using listed characteristics in a specific suspect description; and
  • not using profiling in all incidents other than routine or spontaneous law enforcement activities except when there is trustworthy information relevant to the location or time frame, that links a person with a listed characteristics to an identified criminal incident, scheme or organization.

Lead Sponsors of House Bill 16-1263:  Representative Angela Williams (D-Denver) 866-2909; and Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D-Adams) 866-4857.

House Bill 16-1255:  Titled as "Additional Methods to Manage Forests to Secure Favorable Conditions for Water supply," HB 1255 does not increase state expenditures but "specifies how $200,000 of an existing appropriation will be spent."

HB 1255 directs that at least $200,000 of the $1 million annually allocated to the Colorado Forest Service for community watershed restoration be used to implement the following demonstration pilot projects:

  • improve forest health and resilience;
  • supply forest products to Colorado businesses; and
  • target a Colorado water shed.

   HB 1255 also includes a requirement that the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) conduct a study to quantify and document the relationship between the state water plan and the importance of forest management in protecting and managing Colorado's water resources, with the study results due to the House and Senate natural resources committees by January 1, 2017.

Of course, there is provision in HB 1255 for creation of yet another advisory  committee – the 24-member Forest Health Advisory Council, to advise the state forester on a broad range of issues, opportunities and threats to Colorado's forests, appointed by the Governor and legislative leadership, and subject to sunset review in 2021.

Sponsors of House Bill 16-1255: Representatives Don Coram (R-Dolores, Montezuma, Montrose, San Miguel) 866-2955, and Edward Vigil  (D-Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Huerfano, Mineral, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache) 866-2916. No sponsor as yet in the Senate.

House Bill 12-1230:  Oft asked by the ordinary citizen, especially at budget time, is "where does all the money go?" If HB 1230, is passed and enacted, with very little effort, us ordinary citizens will be able to go online and see just that.

HB 1230, titled "The Inclusion of a County's Financial Information in the State's Financial Information Database, Which is Known as the Transparency Online Project," will require counties to "provide revenue and expenditure data to the state Chief Information Office no later than 30 days after the end of the fiscal year for inclusion in the State Transparency Online Project site (TOPS)."

Not to be taken lightly and for once, there is a penalty for failure to provide the information timely:  "If a county fails to provide this data within 90 days of the deadline, the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) will consider this to be an adverse factor when making local government severance grants awards."

Point-of-Information:  The State Transparency Online Project site (TOPS) is a free, searchable, web-based system that provides easy access to the state's expenditures and revenues. TOPS was created by an Executive Order of the Governor (Hickenlooper) in April 2009 and codified by House Bill 09-1288.

Lead Sponsor of House Bill 16-1230:  Representative Timothy Dore (R-Baca, Bent, Crowley, Elbert, Kiowa, Las Animas, Lincoln, Prowers, Washington) 866-2398. No sponsor as yet in the Senate.

The reader’s comments or questions are always welcome.  E-mail me at

Contact Doris:


P.O. Box 530
Black Hawk, CO