Eye on the Legislature

February 6, 2017

House Bill 17-1038:  The issued addressed in HB 1038 is the old one of to spank or not to spank, one that did not exist in this writer’s younger days, but this bill does not apply to the parents or legal guardian of a child.

HB 1038 expands the prohibition of corporal punishment of children already in Colorado law to include a person employed by or volunteering in a public school or certain child care facilities licensed by the Department of Human Services, including state-licensed child care centers, family care homes, or specialized group facilities. The fiscal impact note states, “Current child care licensing regulations already prohibit the use of corporal punishment in licensed facilities.”

“Corporal punishment” is defined in HB 1038 as the “willful infliction of, or willfully causing the infliction of, physical pain on a child.” Exempted from this definition is “the force necessary to quell a disturbance, self-defense, or to obtain a weapon controlled by a child, as well as physical pain or discomfort caused by athletic activities in which a child is voluntarily engaged.”

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1038:  Senator Susan Lontine (D-Denver, Jefferson) 866-2966. No sponsor in the Senate as of this writing.

Senate Bill 17-008:  Those in the knife-carrying crowd will be pleased if SB 008 is passed and enacted. Titled “Concerning Legalizing Certain Knives,” SB 008 eliminates a gravity knife or switchblade knife from the definition of “illegal weapon,” and upon enactment modifies the definition in Colorado Statute law to mean a “blackjack, gas gun or metallic knuckles.”

While this bill would eliminate the gravity knife or switchblade knife from the definition of illegal weapons, the catch comes in with possessing one and limitations on use, such as prohibitions on carrying, sale or transfer. Beware, regulations and laws differ amongst the states of America. Gravity knives or switchblades are considered deadly or dangerous weapons in some states, but, “while not illegal to possess, if such a knife is used in a criminal act, it may result in different criminal charges or increased penalties.” Not a good idea to brandish one in other states until local law is checked.

Considering the overall environment such a weapon is pulled to be used, the idea seems to be totally contradictory to the safety and welfare of people on the street, causing this writer to ask, legislators have nothing better to do than make the streets and public places we walk on less safe?

Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-008:  Senator Owen Hill (D-Boulder) 866-4872; and Representative Steve Lebsock (D-Adams) 866-2931.

Senate Bill 17-010:  If passed and enacted, SB 010 will revise adjudication under the habitual criminal statute for offenses created in Colorado. Under current law, enhanced sentencing is imposed when a person is adjudicated as an habitual criminal if: 

  • a person is convicted of a class 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 felony or a level 1, 2 or 3 drug felony and has two previous, separate felony convictions within the last ten years; or
  • he or she is convicted of any felony and has three previous, separate felony convictions.

   Also under current law, the number of previous convictions is determinative of the sentence handed down:

  • two previous separate felony conviction results in a term three times the maximum of the presumptive range, thus if an offender’s a third offense was a level 1 drug felony, the resulting penalty is 48 years in prison; and
  • three previous separate felony convictions, conviction as an habitual criminal results in a prison sentence of four times the maximum of the presumptive range, except when the conviction is for a level 2 drug felony – such results in a sentence of 64 years in prison, or if conviction is for a crime of violence, the sentence is life in prison.

   SB 010 will mean no offender convicted of a class 4 or 5 felony, unless it is a crime of violence, a class 6 felony, or a level 2 or 3 felony, will be adjudicated as an habitual criminal.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-010:  Senator Daniel Kagan (D-Arapahoe) 866-2921. No sponsor in the House of Representative as of this writing.

Senate Bill 17-087:   Sex offenders are now given an indeterminate sentence with a maximum of the offender’s natural life under current law.

SB 087 will give discretion to the court to choose between the indeterminate sentence or a determinate sentence for a term of incarceration, probation or parole. Consideration is to be given by the court to factors specified in the bill relating to “punishment and treatment that a court must consider when making its sentencing decision and requires that the court state its reasoning on the record.”

Terms of incarceration the court should use to determine sentences are also set forth in the bill. Presentence investigation sex offender evaluation is to be considered by the court in deciding an offender’s sentence of a term of incarceration, including:

  •  if there is presently a high risk to sexually re-offend;
  • poses a high risk of sexual recidivism unlikely to change with age or developmental maturity;
  • demonstrates ongoing, persistent unlawful sexual behavior where the defendant appears unable to stop himself or herself from sexually re-offending;
  • appears unable to live in the community without engaging in illegal sexual behavior;
  • is diagnosed as a pedophile or displays a fixed sexual attraction to prepubescent children or other vulnerable populations;
  • is uncooperative and unwilling to pursue a lifestyle free from substance abuse that includes appropriate employment if applicable and develops a healthy support system;
  • presents risk factors that will be difficult to treat;
  •  lacks and is unlikely to develop the necessary protective factors that research demonstrates would prevent re-offense; and
  • has physical or mental health issues that present an unacceptable threat to victims or potential victims.

   Probation terms are also based on needs of defendant such as monitoring and management to ensure safety of victims or potential victim, lifetime support in order to live a stable lifestyle, defendant lacks certain protective factors that would prevent re-offense without the possibility of lifetime supervision from the criminal justice system, and the age and development maturity of the defendant at the time of sentencing.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-087:  Senator Irene Aguilar (D-Denver) 866-4852. No sponsor in the House of Representative as of this writing.

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