Eye on the Legislature

January 23, 2017

   Due to a family emergency, Eye on the Legislature is getting a bit of a late start this year. Thanks, all is now well.

   As in previous years, at the end of the discussion of each piece of legislation, the sponsoring Senator or Representative is given followed by their phone number at the Capitol. Readers are encouraged to offer opinions or ask questions about the legislation. Our representatives, more often than not, welcome input from Colorado citizens.

   For readers new to Eye on the Legislature,” hot topic items covered by the on-air and print media down in the flat lands typically do not appear in this column. The “mission” of Eye on Legislature from its beginning in 2005 was to cover legislation that you the reader never hear about until it appears with the headline “New Colorado laws that go into effect . . .”

House Bill 17-1014:  Voting in Presidential election years always seems to get more attention than in the off years, and did so especially during the 2016 election year with all the alleged hacking and claims of rigged elections.

   HB 1014 changes Colorado law accordingly:

  1. Allows a voter to disclose the contents of his or her completed ballot by showing it to any other person or by making an image available through electronic means (social media);
  2. Authorizes municipal and county clerks to place reasonable restrictions on the use of photographs or other activities at a polling place or other location in which votes are tabulated; and
  3. Makes the trading of a vote or offering to trade a vote a misdemeanor and clarifies that it is a misdemeanor to take a picture of another person’s completed ballot.

   For the reader’s information and future reference, the Legislative Council Staff is required by current Colorado Revised Statute Section 2-2-322 (2.5) to provide information in its fiscal note for “any bill that creates a new crime, changes the classification of an existing crime, or changes an element of the existing crime that creates a new factual basis for the offense,” which in the case of HB 1014 translates to:

  1. one new misdemeanor (vote trading);
  2. eliminates one misdemeanor (ballot disclosure); and
  3. changes the element of a person photographing another person’s ballot.

  Heads up, this prompts the question, just how necessary is this new piece of legislation, in that the Legislative Council’s fiscal note states, “There have been no misdemeanor penalty cases or convictions related to voter ballot disclosure within the last five years.” “Given this, the fiscal note assumed that misdemeanor penalty cases related to either taking a picture of another persons ballot or trading a vote are unlikely to occur or will be vary rare.”

Sponsors of House Bill 1014:  Representatives Paul Rosenthal (D-Arapahoe, Denver) 866-29128, and Dave Williams (R-El Paso) 866-5525.

House Bill 17-1022:  Most “older” Coloradans are well aware of just how lacking history and civil government is when it comes to portraying what American Indians, Hispanic Americans and African Americans contributed to the founding of this country.

Current law in Colorado requires the history and civil government of the United States, including these three ethnic groups be taught.

HB 1022 adds to that list a requirement that schools must also teach the history and civil government of the state of Colorado, and the history, culture and contributions of Asian Americans. Also created by HB 1022 is a 15-member History, Culture, and Civil Government in Education Commission, with conditions set forth for the commission’s selection and composition.

Requirements are also set forth in HB 1022 for the creation of content standards and instructional programs, in addition to making recommendations for revising state education standards to the Colorado Department of Education and the State Board of Education. Community forums are to be held by school districts related to civic education not less than once every two years (previously the requirement was 10 years).

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1022:  Representative Joseph A. Salazar (D-Adams) 866-2918. No sponsor yet in the Senate.

House Bill 17-1027:  Colorado drivers may choose to register as an organ donor when renewing their driver’s license. HB 1027 removes the July 1, 2018 repeal date for the Emily Maureen Ellen Keyes Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Fund, thus making it continue indefinitely. A driver’s choice to be a donor remains in effect until revoked by the applicant, “codifying that organ donation is an advance directive and a lifetime designation,” also provided for in the bill. Applicants are asked at the time of renewal process if they wish to voluntarily donate to the Awareness Fund, which is TABOR exempt.

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1027:  Representative K.C. Becker (D-Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grant, Jackson) 866-2578 and Representative Janet P. Buckner (D-Arapahoe) 866-2944; and Senator Bob Gardner (R-El Paso) 866-4880. 

House Bill 17-1056:  Current law allows court assignments for individuals performing community or useful public service assignments. Veterans’ service organizations will be added to the list of entities, with the court or any other entity making the assignment retaining the discretion to determine which organizations may be included in the court’s program.

Sponsors of HB 1056:  Representative Mike Weissman, (D-Arapahoe) 866-2042; and Senator John Kefalas (D-Larimer) 866-4841.


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