Colorado Rights Blog

ACLU of Colorado By: ACLU of Colorado 6.30.2015

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.

2015 Leg Scorecard cover imageThere 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.

View our 2015 Legislative Scorecard.

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  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at https://action.aclu.org/give/support-aclu-colorado

  • 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.