Eye on the Legislature

February 26, 2018

Senate Bill 18-157: The modern-day military is quite different than just ten years ago, but unfortunately, cultural barriers have prevented women from enjoying the same status and benefits as men.

The legislative declaration of SB 157 is lengthy but it warrants complete inclusion here, in this writer’s opinion:

  • Since the American Revolution women have volunteered to serve in the United States military, and today women constitute approximately twenty percent of new recruits, fourteen and a half percent of the 1.4 million-troop active duty component, and eighteen percent of the 850,000-troop reserve component;
  • Since the tragedy of September 11, 2001, almost 280,000 women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq; and
  • Although the number of male veterans is expected to decline by 2020, the number of female veterans is expected to grow dramatically to twenty percent of the veteran population.

   The General Assembly included this historical data:

  • Historically, women have not enjoyed the same status as men in military service, and even today women in the military and women veterans face cultural barriers to full integration into military service, recognition as veterans and access to services and benefits;
  • These barriers are made evident by the lack of attention to adequate protective equipment designed for women, disparities in promotions and sexual harassment and assault with the federal department of defense;
  • Despite recent improvement efforts at the federal department of veterans affairs and the federal department of defense, women still encounter a system that is designed to address the needs of men;
  • Military women lack consistent access to a full range of gender-sensitive benefits and services. And the federal government has not ensured that staff members of federal agencies are exemplifying and promoting a culture that embraces its women veterans; and
  • Resources for implementing and evaluating programs that address this culture and climate are needed.

    The General Assembly provides these reasons for creating the state women veterans office and the state women veterans steering committee in the governor’s office:

  • Colorado’s goal is to be the most veteran-friendly state in America;
  • Nearly 40,000 women veterans reside in Colorado; and
  • Upon discharge, separation or retirement from the military, women veterans may “disappear” as they transition from the highly structured military service environment to an unstructured, seemingly under-resourced life in civilian society.                              

   The fiscal impact statement notes that the Governor must appoint a women veterans service officer to administer the office of the State Women Veterans Office (SWVO). A steering committee is to identify issues and recommend actions to the SWVO concerning the location of the office and criteria for hiring the office administrator.

SB 157 specifies the duties of the SWVO:

  • provide services to ensure the health and well-being of women veterans who reside in Colorado;
  • develop a state women veterans association;
  • develop outreach programs to help Colorado women veterans acquire state and federal benefits and services;
  • conduct surveys to gather data concerning demographics, employment, family situations, housing needs, and women veterans’ use of or lack of use of education, employment and disability benefits;
  •  develop performance standards and measurement procedures to substantiate the viability of SWVO positions, including administrative support;
  • establish a women veterans website, blog, and chat room for women veterans within the website of the governor’s office;
  • conduct outreach activities to increase public recognition of the contribution of women veterans and facilitate networking between women veterans, veterans service organizations, the General Assembly and regional offices of the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA);
  • Serve as a liaison to the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, small business development centers, procurement technical assistance centers, minority business offices, and other state agencies to foster women veteran-owned businesses; and
  • facilitate cooperative networking between local, state, and federal agencies in all matters of interest to women veterans.

   Quite a lofty order, but most likely all would agree, definitely long past due. SB 157 is yet to have its first committee hearing.

Lead Sponsors of Senate Bill 18-157:  Senators Angela Williams (D-Denver) 866-4864; and Representative Jessie Danielson, (D-Jefferson) 866-5522.

House Bill 18-1188:  Currently a state or local agency must get a search warrant before obtaining location information from an electronic device.

“RoadX is a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) program tasked with integrating emerging technologies into Colorado’s roadways. Its mission is to use real-time data to relieve congestion, implement technology to warn motorists of traffic conditions, and prepare infrastructure for connected vehicles.”  

   HB 1188 will allow CDOT to use location information derived from a motor vehicle’s communication with transportation infrastructure for the purpose of facilitating and managing traffic. What HB 1188 does prohibit is CDOT using non-public information, derived from the communication between motor vehicles or between a motor vehicle and the vehicles manufacturer without a legal search warrant.

HB 1188 is yet to have its first committee hearing.

Lead Sponsors of House Bill 18-1188: Representative Dominique Jackson (D-Arapaho) 866-3911; and Senator Owen Hill (R-El Paso) 866-1188.

House Bill 18-1147:  Except for those with a greater than usual interest in the weather, many Coloradans are not aware that The Colorado Water Conservation Board in the Department of Natural Resources issues permits for qualified weather modification operations.

Weather modification, commonly referred to as cloud seeding, is conducted from November through March each year. Said programs currently operating in Colorado are ground-based and designed to enhance snow pack. More than forty entities participate in cloud seeding including local governments, water districts and ski areas.

Weather modification operations that are set to repeal September 1, 2018 will continue to be issued permits if HB 1147 is passed and enacted. Of note is that HB 1147 repeals a provision that prohibits weather modification that affects another state if the other state prohibits weather modification that benefits Colorado or its inhabitants.

HB 1147 is yet to have its first committee hearing.

Lead Sponsors of House Bill 18-1147:  Representatives Joann Ginal (D-Larimer)) 866-4569 and Kim Ransom (R-Douglas) 866-2933; and Senator Don Coram, (R-Archuleta, Dolores, LaPlata, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan, San Miguel), 866-4884.

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