Eye on the Legislature

April 18, 2016

With less than a month to the scheduled day of adjournment (May 11th), the rate of introduction of bills has slowed somewhat, with committee hearings/action increasing at a faster pace.

Most citizens who regularly follow the legislative session each year would be of the opinion that legislation passed and enacted had passed scrutiny as to constitutionality. Not always the case. Senate Concurrent Resolution 16-001 addresses a number of provisions in the Colorado Constitution "deemed obsolete as a result of being found unconstitutional by the courts."

SCR 16-001 will put on the November 2016 ballot a question to voters that if passed, would repeal several provisions found unconstitutional by the courts:

  1. the"previous participation requirement" related to recall elections in Article XXI;
  2. language in Article XXVII that prohibits expenditures that expressly advocate for the election of

a candidate and that prohibits corporations or labor unions from providing funding for electioneering


  1. four definitions that appear in Section 2 of Article XXVIII;
  2. Sections 15, 16, and 17 of Article XVIII, which deal with sole source government contracts;
  3. Section 39b of Article II, which prohibits the state from establishing protected status based on homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation; and Section 31 of Article II, which states that only a marriage between one man and one woman is recognized as

valid by the state. Sponsor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 16-001:  Senator Pat Steadman (D-Arapahoe, Denver) 866-4861. No sponsor as yet in the House of Representatives. Senate Bill 16-181:  Sure to be one of the controversial bills of the session, SB 181 concerns sentencing juveniles convicted of class 1 felonies. Provisions in SB 181 cover two possible sentences for a person

convicted of a class I felony between July 1, 1990 and July 1, 2006 for an offense committed while a juvenile:

  1. a determinate sentence of between 24 to 48 years in prison if the district court finds extraordinary mitigating circumstances were present; or
  2. life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 40 years. SB 181 also contains a provision that allows those offenders sentenced to a life sentenced without the

possibility of parole for a class 1 felony during this time period to petition the court for a resentencing

hearing. Such mitigating circumstances as the offender's age and maturity level at the time of the crime, and

his or her capacity for rehabilitation.

Life sentences issued by the court means that an offender after being released after serving 40 years, less any earned time accrued, he or she is to remain on parole for the remainder of his or her natural life. Under current law, such persons do not accrue earned time.

SB 16-181 requires the Department of Corrections to develop a special program for juvenile offenders sentenced to adult prison for a felony offense committed while the offender was less than 18 years of age, who has served twenty calendar years of his or her sentence and has not been released on parole. 

SB 180 also concerning juvenile offenders has not yet been analyzed by the legislative council staff. Lead Sponsors of Senate Bill 16-181: Senators Laura J. Woods (R-Jefferson) 866-4840, and Cheri Jahn (D-Jeffferson) 866-4856; Representatives Daniel Kagan (D-Arapahoe) 866-292 and Timothy Dore (D-Denver) 866-2348. House Bill 16-1385: Concerning the definition of child abuse substance exposure, HB 1385 "expands the definition of 'abuse' and'child abuse or neglect'in regards to children's exposure to controlled substances in several provisions of law in the "Colorado Children's Code"of the Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 1, 19-1­

103. Provisions in HB 1385 repeal current law which constitutes manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a

controlled substance in the presence of a child or where a child resides as "child abuse or neglect."

Under HB 1385, "child abuse or neglect" is instead defined as "substance use or substance exposure that threatens or results in harm to the health or welfare of a child."The criteria for such includes:

  1. evidence of impairment of the parent, guardian or other person who resides in the child's home and who exercises authority over the child or has responsibility for care of the child;
  2. a child's exposure to or ingestion of any legal or illegal substance that is purposefully or negligently accessible to the child; or
  3. creation of a harmful environment to the child, purposefully or negligently, from the manufacture,

production, possession, cultivation, or use of a legal or illegal substance.

Significant modifications to the definition for "child abuse or neglect" are also included in HB 1385 in regards to children who test positive at birth for substance exposure that meets:

  1. significant exposure to alcohol at birth;
  2. expands exposure at birth to include any controlled substance; rather than schedule I and II controlled substances; and
  3. makes an exception for positive tests resulting from use of a controlled substance that is prescribed

or recommended and monitored by a health care provider who is aware of the pregnancy and licensed to prescribe or recommend a controlled substance.

HB 1385 is yet to have its first committee hearing. Sponsors of House Bill 16-1385: Representative Jonathan Singer (D-Boulder) 866-2780; and Senator Linda Newell (D-Arapahoe) 866-4846. House Bill 16-1346: This one seems to be a no-brainer, but it would not be surprising to see an entire brigade of marijuana supporters show up at the committee hearings to "wail" about how detrimental such a restriction would be on their thriving businesses.

Titled"A Prohibition on Edible Marijuana ProductsThat Are Shaped in a Manner to Entice a Child,"HB 1346 "requires the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in the Department of Revenue to promulgate rules to prohibit the production and sale of edible medical marijuana-infused and retail marijuana products shaped like a human, animal or fruit."

One has to wonder how there could be an objection, but HB 1436 is yet to have its first committee hearing. Lead Sponsors of House Bill 16-1436: Representatives Dan Pabon (D-Denver) 866-2954 and Joann Ginal (D-Larimer) 866-4569; and Senator Linda Newell (D-Arapahoe) 866-4846. House Bill 16-1427: The parade of marijuana regulations continues with there seeming to be no end. HB 1427, titled"Exempting Multi-Serving Liquid Retail Marijuana Products From the Sales Equivalency Limitation," would "exempt multi-serving liquid retail marijuana products from the equivalency restriction if the product complies with all statutory and rule packaging requirement for multi-serving edibles."

Under current law, a retail marijuana store may not sell more than one ounce of retail marijuana or its equivalent to Colorado residents and no more than a quarter ounce of retail marijuana or its equivalent to non-residents.

Here are the restrictions the multi-liquid must meet as provided by HB 1427:

  1. be packaged in a structure that uses a single mechanism to achieve both child-resistance and accurate pouring dosing of each liquid serving in increments of 10 milligrams or less with a maximum of 100 milligrams per package; and
  2. have the dosing component with the child-resistance cap or closure of the bottle and not as a separate component.

For the reader's information, "Colorado law requires the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in the

Department of Revenue to promulgate rules establishing the equivalency of retail marijuana flowers in various retail marijuana products including liquids in order to limit sales of those products to no more than one ounce of retail marijuana for Colorado residents and one quarter ounce for non-residents."

HB 1427 is yet to have its first committee hearing. Sponsors of House Bill 16-1427: Representative Dan Pabon (D-Denver) 866-2954. No sponsor as yet in the Senate.

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.