Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – June 2016
~ By Doris Beaver ~
Action by Governor Hickenlooper on legislation passed by the 2016 General Assembly is moving at a snail’s pace this year as presidential politics and the Governor’s book publicity seem to be demanding first priority. The bills not covered in today’s column will appear in a July 2016 column. The Governor has 30 days after adjournment (May 11th) or legislation becomes law without his signature.
House Bill 16-1027: When at-risk elders are involved in criminal cases, prosecutors may request a video deposition for victims of or witnesses to a crime who are unable to testify at trial.
Signed on May 19th by Governor Hickelooper, HB 1027 expands and streamlines the allowable use of recorded depositions for at-risk elders in such cases; however, the bill includes a provision for the defense to challenge the motion for recorded depositions of other at-risk adults. HB 1027 also changes the wording in the Colorado Revised Statutes to allow a “recording” of depositions rather than strictly “video-tape” depositions.
At-risk elders are defined as any person 70 years of age or older. Statistics for the past three years “show approximately 2,000 cases with at least one charge of a crime against an at-risk individual.”
House Bill 16-1394: SB 15-109 created a task force for at-risk adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities mandatory reporting implementation within the Department of Human Services. Duties of the task force were to study and prepare recommendations for the implementation of mandatory reporting of mistreatment, abuse, neglect or exploitation of at-risk adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Colorado.
Portions of the legislative declaration of HB 1394 are worthy of reiteration:
- fear of mistreatment is one of the major personal concerns of at-risk persons;
- at-risk persons are more vulnerable to and disproportionately damaged by crime in general, but more specifically, by abuse, exploitation and neglect because they are less able to protect themselves against offenders, a number of whom are in positions of trust, and because they are more likely to receive serious injury from crimes committed against them and not to fully recover from such injury;
- at-risk persons are more impacted by crime than the general population because they tend to suffer great relative deprivation, financially, physically, psychologically, as a result of the abuses against them;
- a significant number of at-risk persons are not as physically, intellectually, or emotionally equipped to protect themselves or aid in their own security as non-at-risk persons in society; and
- penalties for specified crimes committed against at-risk persons should be more severe than the penalties for the commission of the same crimes against other members of society.
Provisions in HB 1394 provide for standardization of statutory definitions related to at-risk persons and the mistreatment of at-risk persons, including persons with IDD. HB 1394 also expands the penalty a court can impose on a person convicted of mistreatment of an at-risk persons to include the payment of treatment costs and restitution.
House Bill 16-1054: Probably the most controversial bill of the 2016 legislative session was HB 1054, the “End-of-Life Options for Individuals With A Terminal Illness.” It was “Deemed Lost,” which means it was allowed to just “sit” until time ran out for the session.
Now, readers may be asking, “how can legislators lose a bill?” Well, the term is a bit of a misnomer, and should probably be termed “dead until next session” or “lost until next session.” It possibly, and I do stress possibly, means the bill will appear next session, maybe with as little as a few words changed, or all the same words with only a new year/bill number, or might not appear at all.
Doris Beaver is a free lance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com. or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.