Colorado Rights Blog

ACLU of Colorado By: ACLU of Colorado 6.15.2016

Which Way Did Colorado Legislators Vote on Civil Liberties in 2016?

As we do after every legislative session, we prepared a legislative scorecard so you, our members and supporters, can see where each legislator stands on civil liberties issues.

View the 2016 ACLU of Colorado Legislative Scorecard.

This year, we picked six bills to score on the scorecard. scorecardThe ACLU was of course involved in many other legislative initiatives, but these six represent a cross section of civil liberties issues we work on – mass incarceration, economic justice, solitary confinement and immigrant rights – and those we played a significant role in as they made their way to the Governor’s desk.

Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated bill sponsors, staff, members, and volunteers, each of the six top priority bills passed through the legislature with bipartisan support and are now law.

As in other years, the ACLU championed and defeated many bills that are not reflected on the scorecard. For example, for the second year in a row, the Right to Rest Act was defeated in its first committee hearing. The bill prohibited Colorado municipalities from enacting laws that criminalize our growing homeless population. We also advocated in favor of a law that would make it easier for transgender individuals to change their gender on their birth certificate. This, too, was defeated on a party line vote in a Senate committee, after gaining bipartisan support in the House chamber.

We were successful working in coalition to defeat the many bills attempting to limit a woman’s access to reproductive health options, to limit access to voting through photo ID bills and the like, and to create enhanced penalties for already existing crimes. Finally and with the help of Senate Republicans, we were able to again defeat an attempt to expand the State’s DNA database by collecting DNA from individuals convicted of committing certain misdemeanors.

Find out how your legislators voted in the 2016 ACLU of Colorado Legislative Scorecard.

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  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.