Introducing the ACLU of Colorado 2015 Legislative Scorecard
As we do after every legislative session, we prepared a legislative scorecard so you, our members, can see where each legislator stands on civil liberties issues.
But here was the problem this year: because best practices dictate that we score only those bills that were voted on by the entire legislature, the scorecard cannot possibly tell the whole story.
There were many bills that the ACLU championed that moved in one chamber but could not survive the political landmine of the split chamber legislature. For example, the ACLU championed a bill that would have made it easier for the transgender community to change the birth marker on their birth certificate. This approach would put Colorado in line with Federal State Department practices and would have been a significant victory for the transgender community. The bill passed the House with bi-partisan support, but it failed on a party line vote in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Significantly, those voting against the bill – Senators Scott, Sonnenberg and Hill – scored 60, 60 and 100, respectively on the ACLU scorecard.
Also, another bill the ACLU championed – the Homeless Bill of Rights, which would have prevented Colorado municipalities from enacting or enforcing laws that criminalize the existence of our state’s growing homeless population, was killed in its first hearing before the House State Affairs Committee.
In addition to these defeats, we had victories as well. For example, our significant victory in defeating a DNA collection bill in the House Judiciary Committee on a bi-partisan vote. We also successfully defeated a fetal personhood bill in the House State Affairs Committee after it passed the full Senate.
Despite the challenge of the split legislature, we found many new allies from both sides of the aisle and began a unique bi-partisan movement supporting civil liberties. We saw coalitions of Republicans and Democrats jointly sponsoring legislation that supported privacy rights, criminal justice reforms, and government transparency.
Overall, we took positions on 81 bills. We saw a 61% rate of success overall, winning 52% of the bills we supported and defeating 71% of the bills we opposed. Although the bad news may be that we didn’t succeed in creating a lot of new laws to move our state forward, the good news is we prevailed in defeating several bills that would have infringed on individual rights and civil liberties. The other good news is the growing bi-partisan movement favoring civil liberties of which we are an integral part. We will continue to foster this movement and build momentum for legislative initiatives that advance the civil liberties of all Coloradans.