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5 bills in the Colorado Legislature that might surprise you

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Posted at 1:38 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 22:16:02-05

DENVER – Hundreds of bills are filed in the Colorado Legislature each year, but only about half of them ever make it through the House, Senate and governor’s desk and become state law.

There have been more than 350 bills filed so far this year, and some have raised eyebrows. Here are five that might surprise you:

BILL AIMS TO CLASSIFY ABORTION PRACTITIONERS AS CLASS 1 FELONS

House Bill 1108, would make it a class 1 felony for practitioners to perform an abortion unless it is intended to save the mother’s life or unless the unborn child dies as a result of medical treatment, such as chemotherapy.

That would put practitioners who perform abortions in the same category as first-degree murderers, child abusers who cause a child’s death and people charged with treason.

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Stephen Humphrey and Kim Ransom, as well as Sen. Tim Neville – all Republicans.

The bill is one of several abortion-related bills set to be heard Thursday in the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee, where they all face an uphill climb in a committee chaired by a reproductive endocrinologist and which holds a Democrat majority.

ANOTHER BILL WOULD TAKE COLORADO OFF DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

As they have for years across the country and in Colorado, lawmakers are again trying to take Colorado off Daylight Saving Time and keep it on Mountain Standard Time year-round.

Daylight Saving Time runs from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

Opponents of DST, which was established by the Uniform Act of 1966 and aimed primarily at increasing daylight hours for agricultural workers, argue that it disrupts people’s sleep schedules and leads to health risks and accidents.

Hawaii and Arizona have opted out, as the Uniform Act of 1966 allows, and operate on Standard Time throughout the year.

A ballot measure drive for the 2016 ballot to put Colorado on Daylight Saving Time year-round never made the ballot.

Former state Sen. Greg Brophy tried and failed in both 2011 and 2013 to pass bills that also would have kept the state on Daylight Saving Time year-round. The state and ski resorts both argued against the bills, saying they would greatly affect budgetary concerns and operations.

House Bill 1118’s first committee hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee.

BILL WOULD GIVE MILITARY MEMBERS SPECIAL SENTENCING CONSIDERATIONS

A bill sponsored by two El Paso County representatives, Democrat Pete Lee and Republican Lois Landgraf, would give active and former military members who commit crimes special sentencing considerations if they are found to have certain mental ailments.

A 2010 law allows Colorado courts to establish veterans courts funded by federal money or special veteran treatment programs in judicial districts statewide.

The bill, House Bill 1168, would allow a judge or other court worker preparing a presentence guideline for the military member or veteran to consult with Veterans Affairs to see if the person being sentenced had been diagnosed with certain mental health ailments.

If the court finds that the defendant suffered from and was diagnosed with sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse issues or other mental health problems either during his or her service or afterward, they could get special treatment from the court.

If the person is eligible for probation for the crime they are convicted of, the judge would be directed to consider the person’s mental history and state “favorably” when deciding whether or not to give that person jail/prison time or probation and treatment.

The treatment would have to come from a program “that has a history of successfully treating veterans” who suffer from the identified ailments.

The bill would also allow a court to order an active or ex-military member’s criminal conviction record to be sealed should that person successfully go through the probation and treatment program.

There are already mental health courts operating in the state that also take into account people’s mental health history during sentencing.

The bill’s sponsors say it is aimed at reducing the “revolving door” criminal cycle some military members fall into after they are discharged.

It was introduced Monday and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, but a hearing on the bill has yet to be scheduled.

BILL WOULD NOT REQUIRE TURN SIGNALS IN ROUNDABOUTS

A bill filed by Larimer County Republican Kevin Lundberg would change state traffic laws so people entering, driving within, or exiting one of the state’s 250+ roundabouts would no longer have to use a traffic signal.

Traffic signals are required on most highways and residential roads where the speed limit is over 40 miles per hour.

Not using a signal in a roundabout is currently punishable by a $70 fine and $10 surcharge.

The bill, Senate Bill 59, has breezed through multiple readings on the Senate floor thus far despite the motivation behind the bill remaining obscure.

The fiscal impact notes for the bill note that “the failure to use a turn signal in a roundabout accounts for a minimal number of turn signal infractions” and that the need to use turn signals in roundabouts is not included in the state’s Driver Handbook.

Between 2014 and 2017, the state convicted 6,576 people for not using their turn signal, but data on exactly how many of those were related to roundabouts was unavailable.

BILL WOULD ALLOW CONCEALED-CARRY WITHOUT PERMIT

Another bill that faces an uphill climb in the Legislature is Senate Bill 116, which would allow anyone who legally possesses a handgun in Colorado the same rights as a concealed-carry permit holder.

Should it become law, the bill would allow anyone aged 21 and over who legally obtained and licensed the weapon to conceal their handgun in public without taking the training classes required to obtain a permit under current law.

The same rules that concealed-carry permit holders have to operate under would apply to everyone under the law, meaning unless they are permitted to do so, people would not be able to carry the concealed weapon on K-12 campuses.

Sponsored by Republicans Sen. Tim Neville and Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, the bill is set for its first hearing in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Feb. 15. Should it pass committee and a full Senate vote, the bill would likely face stiff opposition in the Democrat-controlled House.

Another bill, House Bill 1036, would allow people to carry concealed handguns on campus without permit training.

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