Hap at the Cap is Back!
By Susan Baughman, Policy and Research Intern
February 2, 2017
Since President Trump’s inauguration on January 20th and the massive protests that occurred the day after, the news from Washington has been non-stop. The cabinet nominee hearings, outrage over controversial executive orders, and the announcement of the Supreme Court Justice nominee have caused strife among party lines and in our communities.
It is critical that we, as citizens, remain vigilant and watchful of the president and of our federal legislators. But it is also critical that we don’t lose sight of local policy - and that’s why every year, Colorado Youth Matter offers you the “What’s the Hap at the Cap?” blog. CYM will be keeping close track of any proposed state legislation that impacts the comprehensive health of Colorado youth - including bills that would affect Colorado’s commitment to comprehensive sex ed, the right to access sexual health resources for all youth, the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ students, and more. “What’s the Hap at the Cap?” will give you the information you need to stay informed about important local policy issues, as well as action items to insure that your voice is heard.
The Colorado Legislative session began on January 11th, and so far there have been quite a few bills of interest. Among others, here are six bills CYM is keeping a close eye on:
1. House Bill 1001, the “Parental Involvement K-12 Education Act.” This bill was re-introduced from last session by Representative Buckner (D-Aurora) and Senator Kerr (D-Jefferson). HB 1001 would allow employees to take up to 18 hours of unpaid leave from work for attending their child’s academic activities. CYM supports this bill because the presence of a trusted adult in a young person’s life is linked to higher academic success and reduced behavioral issues. HB 1001 would help encourage trusting relationships between parents and their kids, and could therefore influence these positive health outcomes. The bill was introduced to the House on January 11th, and assigned to the House Education Committee. A hearing will take place on February 6th.
2. House Bill 1108, “Protect Human Life At Conception.” As usual, there were several bills introduced attempting to limit reproductive rights. This bill, introduced by Representative Humphrey (R-Weld), Representative Ransom (R-Douglas), and Senator Neville (R- Boulder, Denver, Gilpin, Jefferson), would prohibit abortion altogether while making it a class one felony. CYM believes that all youth have a right to safe, legal, and confidential reproductive and health care services - including abortion services. This bill would hinder access to an important and safe pregnancy option, ultimately strong-arming young people into forced parenting or adoption. This bill will be heard on Thursday, February 9th.
3. House Bill 1085, “Women’s Health Protection Act,” is another anti-choice bill and was introduced by Representative Neville (R-Douglas). This bill would require clinics providing abortion services to file an annual registration form documenting the number of abortions performed, description of methods, name of physicians, number of “babies” born alive, and other data. Any clinics that fail to comply would be subjected to a fine, suspension, or closure. Although this bill targets the clinic, rather than the patient, it has the same goal as HB 1108: limiting reproductive choice. This bill will also be heard on February 9th.
4. House Bill 1122, “Gender Identification On Birth Certificates.” Representative Esgar (D-Pueblo) and Senator Moreno (D-Adams) introduced a bill that would simplify the process of changing gender identity on a birth certificate. Under the current law, a person wishing to change their gender identity on a birth certificate must obtain a court order testifying that they have had a surgical procedure changing their sex. HB 1122 would allow individuals to instead provide a written request from their legal representative and a statement from their medical or mental health care provider. This bill would also provide the issuance of a new birth certificate, rather than amending the original. HB 1122 is a step in the right direction for equality, as it would allow transgender people to have greater control and autonomy over their own lives. A hearing date has not been set.
5. House Bill 1064, “Misuse Of Electronic Images By A Juvenile.” This is the first of two sexting bills this year. HB 1064 is sponsored by Representative Willett (R- Delta, Mesa) and Senator Fields (D- Arapahoe). The bill would criminalize all juvenile sexting behavior, including both those coerced into sexting and those engaging in consensual sexting. CYM believes that consensual sexting can be a healthy behavior for a young person’s sexual development, and that this bill would unnecessarily punish and cause lasting harm to youth. HB 1064 was introduced on January 11th and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
6. Representative Lee’s Juvenile Sexting Bill. A second sexting bill, sponsored by Representative Lee (D-Manitou Springs), distinguishes between consensual and non-consensual sexting and is supported by CYM, CCASA, CCADV, and others. The bill acknowledges that even consensual sexting can result in harmful consequences for youth, and calls for the creation of a comprehensive education program on how to be a responsible digital citizen.
Representative Lee’s bill has not yet been officially introduced.
Feel strongly about any of these bills? Contact your legislators today and mark your calendars for the hearing dates to voice your support or concerns. You can find your legislators here, and reach their office over the phone by calling (303) 866-2904. We’ll have updates on these bills and more during the next issue of “What’s the Hap at the Cap?” on February 16th.