Third Town Hall Meeting; Saturday March 19 at 10am

My third town hall meeting will keep my tradition of working with my colleagues across the aisle and bringing innovative solutions to Colorado regardless of party.

Representative Mark Barker, R – Colorado Springs, and Representative Mark Waller, R -Colorado Springs, will join me on March 19 at 10am at the Valley Hi Golf Course restaurant, 610 South Chelton Road.

Restorative Justice Passes the Judiciary Committee

The House Judiciary Committee passed the Restorative Justice Bill by a vote of 11-0 last night. The final edition of this bill results from a collaboration with the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, the State Judicial Department which represents Probation and the Judges, representatives from victims groups and many of you who contributed your ideas, insights and recommendations. The bill received bipartisan support in the committee consisting of 6 Republicans and 5 Democrats – or 11 Coloradans.

HB11-1032 gives District Attorneys, Judges and defense lawyers another tool to address offenses by both juveniles and adults, enabling them to deal more effectively with criminal conduct and offenses. By providing opportunities for engagement, accountability and restoration, this bill will reduce recidivism, save costs and provide opportunities for healing for victims and communities. The bill encourages School Boards to use restorative justice practices in schools as a first consideration in addressing misconduct. For the first time in Colorado, it opens the door for restorative justice in prisons when money is available to fund a program there.

We still have work to do to move the bill through the House on second and third reading, then seek passage in the Senate and finally obtain the Governor’s signature. Meanwhile, we need to work with the State RJ Council and the Pikes Peak Restorative Justice Council to develop standards and criteria for facilitators so we can ensure continuing competence and professionalism.

Thank you to all who have worked so hard and contributed so much to advance the cause.

Win Some, Lose Some

This week I was proud to have the first of my own bills pass the House. HB 11-1203 would extend the scope of the criminal record sealing law to “private custodians” of criminal records. Having a criminal record makes it harder to get a job, rent an apartment or get credit. Once a judge orders a record sealed, private companies that sell that information would now have to seal their records as well. The bill passed the House unanimously, and now moves on to the Senate.

Unfortunately we lost a bill that addressed one of my most important goals – creating jobs in Colorado. I co-sponsored HB 11-1129 with Representative Dan Pabon. The bill would have given certain preferences to Colorado-based, U.S. and veteran-owned businesses when the state government contracts services from private companies and the costs are roughly equal. Colorado tax dollars are funding these projects, so Colorado citizens should be the first to get the jobs that they create. A majority is needed to pass a bill out of committee but the vote was split along party lines, which prevented HB 11-1129 from going on.