Protect Child Victims and Shorten the Legislative Session

Protect the Names of Child Victims in Criminal Justice Records

This week the House Judiciary committee passed SB16-110 with unanimous support.  This bill, which we sponsored in the House, provides minors who are victims of crime some privacy protections.  It effectively writes into statute what has--since 1990--been the General Assembly’s intent to prevent “undue hardship, discomfort, and distress to any juvenile victim” by not disclosing their identity.

We should always advocate for the rights and well being of crime victims, especially children. Throughout the legal process, this requires keeping a child from further harm by safeguarding their identity and reputation with nondisclosure of personal information. When government broadcasts a child’s name to the public and exposes their trauma, we add insult to injury and ultimately may cause further hardship.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Senator Laura Woods and I, as co-prime sponsors on the bill, proposed this legislation with the goal to protect the names of child victims from disclosure in court records when the victim has suffered a crime like abuse, sexual exploitation, solicitation of child prostitution or human trafficking of a minor for involuntary servitude, among others. As scholars David Finkelhor, Ph.D. and Charles Putnam, J.D. put it in Privacy of Child Crime Victims:

One of the harms crime victims face is the possibility that many other people will find out about their experience through widespread publicity in the general media. Such concerns are most obvious in the case of sex crimes, but many non-sexual victimizations cause embarrassment as well. For children, these concerns can be particularly acute, in part because children are so sensitive about their reputations, and in part because children have little power to control and counteract information that is disseminated about them. Fears about their reputation and privacy are likely major reasons why so many children do not disclose victimizations to the police or even their own families.

Medical Treatment Center Won't be Moving to Monument

The combination of community involvement, legislative action, and legal action led this week to a settlement that will prevent the methadone dispensary from opening in downtown Monument.

Sometimes you don’t get the direct result you want from legislation. In this case, we ran a  bill to provide three levels of protection to Monument and other small communities across Colorado. Although the legislation was killed, it added energy to the community, political and societal conversation that lead to a good result for the community. Thank you for the part you played in that effort. 

Photo Credit: Town of Monument

Photo Credit: Town of Monument

On March 10th, Monument and Colonial Management Group, a national methadone facilities operator, began the conversation to finalize terms on a settlement agreement that ensures the long-opposed methadone treatment center won’t open for business downtown. The settlement requires Monument to pay CMG $350,000 on account of “lost profits and ‘other opportunity costs.’” Read the full story in The Gazette.

We will continue to press the effort to produce common-sense licensing rules at the State Department of Human Services in spite of the recent successful outcome. Other small Colorado communities should be protected from the trauma and expense Monument just went through. Follow the progress at paullundeen.org

Changing the Way We Govern Colorado

Last Saturday, March 12th, marked the halfway point of the 2016 legislative session. It was also the date I proposed a concurrent resolution that would change the shape of governance and the legislative process in Colorado. The resolution would effectively accomplish three things:

1. This resolution would shorten the length of the legislative session from 120 days to 60 days in odd numbered years, and 90 days in even numbered years. Doing so would allow for a biennial budgeting process.

2. It would provide for an accountable budget process by expanding fiscal oversight of departments from the six JBC members and sixteen JBC staff  to all 100 legislators. Each legislator would have greater ability to hold the departments under the authority of the legislator’s committees of reference accountable.

3. Finally, it would decrease the volume of new legislation offered each session by reducing the number of bills introduced by each legislator from five to two. This would ensure that only the most significant and urgent issues are made legislative priorities, encouraging legislator collaboration on bills with similar content.

If the resolution offered were already law, the legislative session would have ended last week. We elect members of the General Assembly so that they can be fully involved in the budget process, and so that they can efficiently complete their legislative duties. This resolution helps create a more effective and accountable legislative branch.

No man's life, liberty, or property are safe when the legislature is in session. --Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). Photo Credit: Public Domain; Samuel Clemens, pictured.

No man's life, liberty, or property are safe when the legislature is in session. --Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain).

Photo Credit: Public Domain; Samuel Clemens, pictured.

The Colorado Constitution determines the length of the legislative session, and for that reason the resolution would require a vote of the people to become effective. Upon passage by the Colorado General Assembly, the resolution will refer proposed changes to the November, 2016 ballot.

Thank you for staying engaged. I always welcome your input and feedback.

Posted on March 21, 2016 .