Week 13: Harmful Legislation Dies in the House

Week 13: Harmful Legislation Dies in the House

What’s the hap at the cap? Colorado legislative updates affecting youth sexual health, from March 24 - April 7.

By Liz McKay, Policy and Education Intern
April 7, 2016

Today marks the 86th day of the second regular session of the 70th Colorado State General Assembly. After weeks of testimony, floor debates, media coverage, bills passing and bills dying, it may be time to remind our supporters why policy is important in achieving our mission of actively engaging Colorado communities to promote the healthy sexual development of all young people.

When a school offers sex ed, or a parent has questions about sex ed, when a student is unable to access resources because the law does not permit it, or when a young person is criminalized before being educated - these are the results of policy, each one impacting the healthy development of youth in a different way. As critical observers and actors in our political system, we are committed to eliminating barriers to achieving our mission, and work to ensure any threats to the healthy sexual development of youth do not come to fruition.

With that said:

On Tuesday April 4th, the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee took action on HB-1058, which would make the possession or distribution of sexually explicit images by a juvenile and of a juvenile a misdemeanor. Under current law, this counts as child pornography and is therefore a felony. The original hearing for this bill was March 15th, where extensive testimony was given about the damaging impacts this bill would have on adolescents, primarily those that engage in consensual sexting and victims of privacy violations. Colorado Youth Matter opposes HB-1058 because, even though it lessens punishment for youth sexting, the consensual sharing of explicit images by youth would still be punishable by law. Similarly, there would be no legal retribution for young people whose image, even if consensually created, was distributed without consent. (Read more on CYM’s position here!)

After an hour of committee discussion on Tuesday, the House committee voted against HB-1058 with a vote of 7-6. In an unusual ruling, the bill was not postponed indefinitely as is custom when a bill is voted down in committee. This means that any of the legislators who voted against it have the ability to change their mind and bring the bill back for another vote. It is unlikely that this will happen.

Another bill that we’ve been keeping an eye on, HB-1110 or the Parental Bill of Rights, also died in committee last week. This bill mimicked a similar bill from last year (SB15-077, which failed in the House) and would give parents ultimate care, custody, and control over their child, stating that no governmental entities can interfere with these parental rights without demonstrating “compelling interest”.

While Colorado Youth Matter absolutely values parental involvement, this bill would have gone too far, as young people would need parental consent for all services, even those that youth can currently access privately. This would strip young people of their right to confidential care, inhibiting them from accessing services for sensitive issues like sexual health, mental health, LGBT counseling, and more. HB-1110 died in the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee with a vote of 5-4.