Senate Republicans Work to Protect Internet

Today, the Senate approved Majority Leader Chris Holbert's (R-Douglas County) bill protecting Colorado consumer's online privacy.

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Committee Unanimously Agrees to Deny Bail to Habitual Stalkers

 

 DENVER--Today, the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee gave unanimous support to Senator Owen Hill's (R-Colorado Springs) House Bill 17-1050, denying bail to repeat offenders of stalking or domestic violence.

Under current law, certain crimes are exempt from the possibility of bail. HB 1050 adds to the existing list, a second offense of stalking or domestic violence that occurs within seven years of the first offense.
According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence or stalking in their life. Of those victims, 77 percent of women aged 18 to 24 we're victimized multiple times by the same offender, the number increases to 81 percent for women aged 35 to 49. 
Under Colorado's mandatory arrest laws, if a peace officer has any cause to believe domestic violence has occurred, an arrest will be made. However, offenders are often quickly released and reoffend, discouraging many victims from ever reporting the crime.
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Committee Affirms Rural Sustainability is a top Senate Priority

Denver—Today, the Senate Finance Committee approved Senate Bill 267 on a 4-1 vote, carried by President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg. 

Senate Bill 267 recognizes the unique struggles of rural Colorado by adopting a multi-pronged approach to improve rural schools, health care, and roads and bridges. 

This legislation authorizes the Legislature to set aside $125 million to bond for $1.7 billion, directing 25 percent, or $300 million, of that amount to improve the infrastructure of Colorado's rural communities with populations of less than 50,000.    

SB 267 repeals the statutorily required transfers imposed by SB 09-228, which currently move funds from the General Fund (GF) to the Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF) and Capital Construction Fund based on certain TABOR refund triggers. 

The bill moves $79 million of the funds, which would otherwise be transferred to the HUTF, to State Education Fund in 2017, $160 million in 2018, and $160 million in 2019 to be prioritized for rural schools. 

SB 267 also reclassifies the Hospital Provider Fee (HPF) as an enterprise, while resetting the TABOR base and lowering the cap. 

The bill also speaks to the unintended consequences of health care expansion, and avoids the hazardous effects of hospital closures, by addressing entitlement reform and forcing efficiencies and savings in health care.

Lastly, SB 267 prioritizes lean and accountable local government by asking all state departments to trim 2 percent in excess spending and inefficiencies from their budgets by next fiscal year.

The bill was amended in committee to increase access to health care for rural Colorado by allowing Colorado families on Medicaid to seek out health care providers who are not covered under the Medicaid network, if another provider better suits their needs.

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Committee Unanimously Approves Two More Cooke Bills Guarding Against Sex Trade

 

DENVER—Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved two more bills carried by Senator John Cooke (R-Greeley) focused on protecting victims of sexual servitude and ending sex trafficking in Colorado.

House Bill 17-1072 adds to the definition of human trafficking for sexual servitude, the act of purchasing another person in order to coerce engagement in sexual activity. It also adds this element to the definition of human trafficking of a minor 

Under current law, unlawful sexual activity only pertains to minors, HB 1072 expands that definition to include human trafficking and requires those convicted to register under the sex offender registry. 

House Bill 17-1172 requires courts to adhere to the minimum sentencing of eight years in the Department of Corrections for those convicted of a class 2 felony for human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude. 

In 2016, Colorado saw a 56 percent increase in the number of human trafficking cases from reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Senator John Cooke is a former Sheriff of Weld County who worked as a persons crime investigator and focused his career on protecting Colorado's most vulnerable citizens from sexual assaults, rapes, and violent crimes.

 

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Bill to Improve Access to Workers’ Compensation for PTSD Moves Through Committee

DENVER—Today, a bill sponsored by Senator John Cooke, R-Weld County, clarifying worker’s compensation mental impairment coverage passed successfully through the Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee 

 

House Bill 17-1229 improves the current wording of workers’ compensation insurance laws regarding mental impairment claims. Under current law, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not clearly defined, making reporting and filing mental impairment claims after workers experience a traumatic event difficult for first responders. 

 

HB-1229 states that an individual suffering from PTSD must be diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. The bill clarifies that PTSD is defined as a “psychologically traumatic event,” or an event differing from the individual’s usual work experience that would evoke significant symptoms of distress.

 

HB-1229 clearly defines PTSD, broadening the definition to make claims. It also streamlines the process of filing for and receiving workers’ compensation for those who serve the community as first responders. The bill further ensures that those who have experienced a traumatic event in the workplace and are in need of workers’ compensation can get the care they need as quickly as possible. 

 

 

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Road and Transportation Package Gains Momentum Following Major Modifications

DENVER -- The centerpiece of a bipartisan push to put a road and transportation fix on the ballot next fall gained major momentum at the Colorado Statehouse today, winning Transportation Committee support after being amended in ways that could give the measure more traction in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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Citizen Protection Against 'Sanctuary' Policies Moves Forward in Senate

DENVER -- A Senate Republican bill aimed at ending “sanctuary” policies that protect criminal aliens passed its first hurdle Monday, on a 3 to 2 party line vote of the Senate Judiciary Committee, following three hours of testimony by more than 25 witnesses.

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Senate Strengthens Penalties on Crimes Against LGBTQ and Disabled Coloradans

DENVER--Today, the Senate passed Senator Don Coram's, R-Montrose, bill expanding the definition of harassment to agree with Colorado's law on bias-motivated crimes. 

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Hearing Highlights Potential of Coal Mine Methane Capture Technology

DENVER -- The latest in a series of Statehouse hearings highlighting Colorado’s vast and diverse energy portfolio on Thursday focused on the huge untapped potential of coal mine methane, a potent “greenhouse gas” that can be captured and resold as natural gas with the help of emerging technology, according to Tom Vessels, President and CEO of Vessels Oil and Gas Company.

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Smallwood Acts to Increase Reporting in Child Abuse or Neglect

DENVER--Today, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved Senator Jim Smallwood's (R-Parker) effort to increase reporting in cases of child abuse or neglect.
House Bill 17-1185 adds officials and employees of county departments of health, human, and social services to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse.
Under current law, mandatory reporters--including but not limited to health care professionals, educators, members of the clergy, firefighters, peace officers, and victim's advocates--are required to report any reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect. A mandatory reporter who willfully fails to report any such abuse or neglect may be found guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor. 
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