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House GOP Newsletter  
Monday, June 22, 2015  Like

♦A disappointing end for a bill protecting domestic violence victims

♦Press Releases   ♦In the News 

♦Tweets of the Week   ♦Capitol Pictures

A disappointing end for a bill protecting domestic violence victims

By Representative Kevin Van Winkle (R-Highlands Ranch)

Whether you are a football fan or not you might recall the terrible domestic violence incident involving former Baltimore player Ray Rice and his then-fiancé Janay Palmer, in which a New Jersey hotel video recorded him punching her unconscious in an elevator. Sadly, the charges against Rice were dropped after he agreed to court-supervised counseling, but had this crime happened in some Colorado cities, even a conviction for this kind of crime could have only appeared on Ray Rice's record for three short years. Perhaps more concerning was we had a chance to close this loophole, and politics got in the way.

In 2013, legislation was enacted that allowed municipal court convictions to be sealed after three years. While most of the cases heard in municipal courts are petty crimes, in some cities caseloads include domestic violence crimes. According to the non-partisan Legislative Council staff, there are five cities that hear domestic violence cases in municipal courts; Aurora, Englewood, Lakewood, Littleton and Westminster.  Sadly, in these cities there are thousands of violent criminal convictions sealed every year, over 2,300 in Aurora alone. While sealing petty criminal convictions is not the issue, district attorneys should not be forced to treat a repeat abuser only three years removed from a prior conviction with the same leniency as a first-time offender.

In the last legislative session, I carried a bill to close this loophole and ensure repeat abusers were sentenced accordingly. My bill, House Bill 1061, would have prevented all domestic violence convictions from being sealed, regardless of the court in which they are heard.  While this legislation had broad support and would seem to be a no-brainer, it was staunchly opposed by the trial lawyers – one of the Democrats' biggest supporters. 

The trial lawyers' opposition put Democrats in an uncomfortable position, either voting against an important group or voting against domestic violence victims. Here's where my bill's story took a disappointing turn. Following its committee hearing, Democrats delayed the formal committee vote for more than two months. It was allowed to pass committee, but during the delay, Democrat leadership asked me to turn this bill into a toothless study. I held firm, and as a result Democrats delayed my bill until the session ended, effectively killing it without taking a vote on the House floor.

I and many other supporters of this bill were rightfully appalled by its defeat and the politics responsible for killing this legislation. However, I fully intend to reintroduce this bill in the next session and can hopefully get enough attention to force Democrats to take a position and help protect domestic violence victims in Colorado. 

Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and I encourage you to address any concerns with your respective representative. You can keep up with all of our updates by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or visiting www.cohousegop.com

Sincerely, 

Kevin Van Winkle

Press Releases

In the News

 Tweets of the Week 

Neighbors to the North have been fine hosts and many soccer memories made. Glad to be back in the Good Ole US of A! pic.twitter.com/wVqxziOeP9
Per the June revenue forecast. We would have put another $18.6 million into K-12 & higher education had we passed my bill HB15-1058. #coleg
It's a packed house at the MADD law enforcement recognition dinner. pic.twitter.com/IXHJOiokBj

Capitol Pictures

Representative Jon Becker (R-Fort Morgan) visits Morgan Community College with Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling).

Representative Polly Lawrence (R-Littleton) and Representative Kim Ransom (R-Douglas County) attend the Parker Days Parade with fellow elected officials from Douglas County.

Representative Dan Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs) speaks at a gathering for the signing of his bill, House Bill 1130, which makes it easier for military and overseas voters to participate in municipal elections.

You can keep up with all of our updates by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or visiting COHouseGOP.com.

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