Gardner Bill to Protect and Support Victims of Crime Gets Initial Ok

Denver—Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senator Bob Gardner's (R-El Paso County) bill to update and strengthen the Victims' Rights Act (VRA) on a unanimous vote go 5-0. 

The bill, Senate Bill 51, updates provisions of Colorado's Victims' Rights Act to reflect the changing landscape of the criminal justice system in Colorado over the 25 years since the VRA was first enacted in 1992. 

SB 17-051 expands the VRA to protect the victims of three existing crimes: failure to stop at the scene of a crime, violation of a protection order, and maliciously posting a private image. 

The bill grants victims the right to be informed of the results of their offender's probation or parole hearing, or the governor's decision to commute or pardon the sentence of their offender. It also expands the rights of a victim to be heard at court hearings.

"Criminal defendant's rights are always evolving, but after 25 years of the Victim's Rights Act, this measure is overdue for an update," said Gardner "Colorado's most vulnerable populations need a champion to ensure their right's are protected, and this updated VRA will continue to stand strong for those who, in their darkest moments, need our help the most."

Senate Bill 51 now moves on to a vote of the committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs.  

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Senator Neville Wins First Battle to Defend Student Free Speech

Denver—Today, the Senate Education committee unanimously approved Senator Tim Neville's (R-South Jefferson County) bill defending the constitutionally granted rights of Colorado students.

Senate bill 17-062 prohibits public colleges from restricting any students first amendment rights to free speech in any way in a public forum unless the restrictions are reasonable, serving significant government purpose, and do not limit freedom of expression. Free speech includes speaking, distributing materials, or holding a sign. 

The bill also requires that existing free speech zones be converted into monuments or memorials. 

"Free speech zones are counterintuitive to our core values, we should never falter in our defense of our constitutional rights or confine a free exchange of ideas," said Neville. "Students on Colorado campuses are growing into the leaders of tomorrow, and restricting their fundamental rights as they seek out truth and knowledge is contrary to the American spirit as well as the mission of universities."

Senate Bill 17-062 now moves on to a vote of the committee of the whole. 

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Priola Bill to Support University Athletics Gets First Down

Denver—In it's first victory for Colorado university athletics, Senator Kevin Priola's (R-Brighton) Senate Bill 17-041 was voted unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Education on Thursday.

Current law restricts Colorado institutes of higher education to six, multi-year contracted employees, with a limit of five years per contract.

SB 41 exempts any auxiliary enterprise like athletic departments, or any other self-supporting entity from current restrictions on contracted, multi-year employees.

This measure does not increase state expenditures.

"Allowing self-supporting university programs to function like small businesses is a commonsense clean-up with absolutely no burden to Colorado taxpayers," said Priola. "As a proud graduate of the Colorado university system, I am thrilled that we can take this step in strengthening our state's athletic programs and ensuring we are recruiting and retaining the best talent in Colorado."

Senate Bill 41 now moves on to a vote of the committee of the whole.

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Cooke Bill to Keep Colorado Communities Safer Passes Senate

Denver – This morning marked another major milestone for Senate Bill 17-048, Majority Whip John Cooke’s bill to expedite the arrest of escapees from Intensive Supervision Programs (ISP). 

The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate and will now be heard in the House. 

ISP was developed to facilitate intense supervision of parolees in a nonresidential program while prioritizing public safety and maintaining the security of the community as a whole. 

Parolees are assigned to ISP in order to ensure the highest level of supervision possible, including daily contact through on-site visits or telephone communication, and often electronic monitoring devices.

SB 17-048 clarifies the role of peace and parole officers who have field experience dealing with parolees who violate ISP.

“Convicted criminals escaping from ISP is a serious public safety concern," said Cooke. "My bill clarifies existing statute to expedite the process of arresting escapees to keep our communities safer from dangerous criminals who reoffend by violating the provisions of their parole."

Senate Bill 048 now moves on to the House.  

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Hill's Bill to Remove Barriers for Colorado Rideshare Drivers Passes Senate

Denver--Today, Senator Owen Hill's (R-Colorado Springs) bill to remove barriers to job entry for rideshare drivers passed out of the Senate on a vote of 33-2.

Under current law, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regulates Uber and Lyft, the only rideshare companies permitted to operate in Colorado. The PUC requires rideshare drivers to provide proof of medical fitness, in addition to meeting the same requirements posed by the Division of Motor Vehicles. 

The bill, Senate Bill 17-043, repeals the redundant medical certification requirement for rideshare drivers.

"Uber and Lyft are exceedingly popular in Colorado, encouraging safe driving practices and putting more Coloradans to work," said Hill. "By getting needless government mandates out of the way, we can help these companies continue to keep Coloradans safe,  bring more jobs to our state, and do their part to inspire a healthy economic climate."

Senate Bill 17-043 now moves on to the House.

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Grantham Applauds Gorsuch Nomination

Denver -- Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City) released the following statement today in response to the nomination of Coloradan Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court:

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Democrats Get Chance for Do-Over on Magazine Limit Misfire

Denver -- Senate Republicans took another shot at restoring lost gun rights and righting a past wrong Tuesday, by introducing a bill that would repeal arbitrary magazine ammunition limits approved by Democrats in 2013, when they enjoyed one party rule.

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Regulatory Relief for Small Biz Passes Colorado Senate


Denver -- Senate Republicans announced on opening day that improving Colorado's business climate would be a top priority this session. And they took a major early step toward making good on that pledge Monday, with bipartisan passage of Senate Bill-1, which aims at reducing tensions between state regulators and small businesses by giving both sides more leeway in how they deal with compliance issues.

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Gardner Bill to Provide Tax Relief for Home Owners Gets First Nod

Denver—Today, the Senate Finance Committee approved Senator Bob Gardner's (R-Colorado Springs) bill to provide tax relief for residential property owners. The bill, Senate Bill 17-078, lowers the tax rate for storage units used to house personal property by reclassifying them from commercial property to residential. 

"Classifying storage units where Coloradans house their keepsakes, or use as additional living spaces as commercial property is simply misleading,” said Gardner. "My bill is a commonsense approach to give hardworking Colorado families the relief they need whether their family is growing or downsizing, and I am glad the committee agreed to help middle class Colorado homeowners today."
Senate Bill 17-078 moves on to a vote of the Committee on Appropriations. 
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Gardner Bill to Help Protect Children Passes First Hurdle


Denver—Today, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved Senator Bob Gardner's (R-El Paso County) bill requiring collection and disclosure of information pertaining to the wellness and safeguarding of the children of military service personnel. The bill, Senate Bill 17-028 asks the Department of Health and Human Services to share with military command any information received regarding child abuse or neglect.

"Honoring our men and women in uniform who sacrifice so much for our safety and freedom is a priority for me, and we have to ensure we are doing everything we can to support our military families." said Gardner "As a military retiree, I know that there are unique stresses for military personnel and their families, and I am pleased the committee decided to help our local communities and the military work together to provide service families the support they need.” 
Senate Bill 17-028 moves on to a vote of the committee on Appropriations. 


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