On May 8, we ended the 2013 state legislative session. There were bills on some difficult and complicated issues, yet we also did some significantly positive work. In total, we passed 441 bills (including repeals). Below are more of my bills this session not yet covered in my columns.
• HB 13-1271, Child Abuse Reporting Hotline and Training: Colorado ranks 17th highest in the nation for children experiencing abuse and neglect. HB 13-1271 is the first step in creating a statewide child abuse reporting hotline system and consistent training practices to those answering calls. By making it easier for people to call, and with better training of hotline workers, this should help prevent child injury and death.
• SB 13-255, Strengthening Child Fatality Reviews: This bill improves the process for analyzing child fatalities to identify potential improvements in protecting children. For the first time, we will have statewide consistent best practices with child fatality reviews in order to prevent child deaths.
• SB 13-278 directs a task force to recommend a definition of a “drug-endangered child” in the context of child abuse or neglect to assist child protection workers, family courts, and mandatory reporters in identifying and reporting situations that would be applicable.
Protection of domestic violence and sexual assault victims
• HB 13-1259, Civil Protection Orders/Domestic Orders: This bill elevates safety as a primary concern in domestic relations cases involving children and strengthens the civil protection order process. The safety and well-being of abused children and parents should be of primary importance in any court. It also adds sexual assault to the definition of domestic violence for civil protection orders.
• HB 13-1254 expands the restorative justice program in Colorado, with the goal of keeping juveniles out of the juvenile justice system. Restorative justice emphasizes repairing the harm to the victim and community caused by criminal acts of juveniles and adults. This bill will increase the use of restorative justice practices, particularly facilitating victim-offender conferences, which are completely voluntary and have shown dramatic reductions in recidivism.
Helping small businesses
• HB 13-1208 gives more flexibility to the funding of creative districts in Colorado, allowing for small creative businesses to expand. Creative industries make up the fifth-largest employment sector in Colorado and positively affect the local economies and community cultures.
Technology and cost savings
• HB 13-1079, Joint Technology Committee: Over the years in state government, we have had successes and some major failures in our selection and implementation of IT systems, costing us literally millions of dollars. HB 1079 establishes the Joint Technology Committee, creating more effective oversight of the state IT systems to increase efficiency and cost savings.
Increasing access to voting
• HB 13-1147 creates an easy avenue for voter registration at public colleges. As students enroll for their classes, they will now be able to register to vote at the same time, while hopefully, beginning a life of civic engagement.
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State Sen. Linda Newell represents District 26, which includes Littleton, western Centennial, Cherry Hills Village, part of Englewood, Sheridan, Columbine Valley and portions of Bow Mar.