DENVER – Attorney General John Suthers today called this year’s legislative session a great success for the citizens of Colorado. Suthers’ legislative agenda included eight priorities, ranging from protecting children from online predators to working to safeguard Colorado’s natural resources.
“The Attorney General’s Office had several key priorities going into this year’s legislative session,” said Suthers, “Through bipartisan support, our entire agenda has already been signed or is on its way to the Governor for his signature.”
Protecting Children from Online Predators
(HB-1011, Sponsored by Rep. Bob McCluskey and Sen. Paula Sandoval)
In an effort to protect children from predators online, Attorney General Suthers helped draft HB-1011 to provide law enforcement with additional tools to protect children online. HB-1011 makes it a felony to solicit a child online for sex and makes certain possession of child pornography a felony. This legislation is the cornerstone of the Attorney General's Safe Surfing Initiative, launched last May to help keep children safe from online predators. In addition to tougher criminal laws, the Attorney General created a public awareness campaign and toured several schools and Boys & Girls Clubs to address the dangers online.
(SB-71, Sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Veiga and Rep. Tom Massey)
With the rise of mortgage fraud and foreclosures in Colorado, Attorney General Suthers convened a Mortgage and Foreclosure Task Force last year and charged the group with, among other things, developing legislative proposals to give homeowners additional protections from deceptive business practices. SB 71 establishes the Colorado Foreclosure Protection Act and prohibits certain deceptive business practices thereby giving homeowners additional measures to protect themselves from losing their home to predatory investors.
Building Safer Communities (SB-22, Sponsored Sen. Ken Kester and Rep. Josh Penry)
As chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Sexually Violent Predators, Attorney General Suthers worked to strengthen the process by which sexually violent predators are evaluated and their respective communities notified. Under his leadership, the Task Force drafted this critical legislation, SB-22, to repair loop-holes in the identification and community notification processes.
Safeguarding Natural Resources (Long Bill: HB-1385)
Resolving Long Overdue Natural Resource Claims: Key to Attorney General’s commitment to Colorado’s natural resources is resolving long-overdue natural resource damage claims. Therefore, Attorney General Suthers fought for $758,312 in funding to pursue Colorado’s case against Shell Oil Co. and the U.S. Army for natural resource damages at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.
Defending the Colorado River Basin Compact: To adequately prepare for possible litigation concerning interstate water issues on the Colorado River, Attorney General Suthers requested $758,880 to fund a new Colorado River Litigation Unit in the Attorney General’s Office. Lower basin states such as California and Arizona are expected to pour millions into getting every drop of water possible, which will come at Colorado’s expense. These funds are critical to protect the surface and groundwater rights of millions of Coloradans.
Both of these items are found in the Long Bill.
Providing the State with First-Rate Legal Expertise (Long Bill: HB-1385)
Attorney General Suthers sought almost $1 million in salary survey funds to bring attorney salaries more in line with other public law offices in the metro Denver area. He views this as necessary to attract and retain quality attorneys, which will ultimately save money through increased retention and lower training costs. This measure is also found in the Long Bill.
Targeting Fraud (SB-38, Sponsored by Sen. Abel Tapia and Rep. Matt Knoedler)
Despite having one of the highest referral rates in the county, funding to investigate insurance fraud in Colorado is close to last. Therefore, Attorney General Suthers requested the Legislature augment the Department of Law’s Insurance Fraud Unit to help combat fraud and lower insurance rates for Colorado consumers. SB-38 will put more industry-funded resources into insurance fraud. The increased fees will allow the unit to add one lawyer, three investigators and one administrative assistant.
Combating the Scourge of Methamphetamine (HB-1145, Sponsored by Sen. Ron Teck and Rep. Judy Solano)
HB-1145 creates a Methamphetamine Task Force to examine ways to combat the scourge of methamphetamine in Colorado. Supported and chaired by Attorney General Suthers, the Task Force will examine the prevention, intervention and treatment methamphetamine abuse.
“This critical legislation will help build safer communities, protect consumers from fraud and safeguard our natural resources,” said Suthers. “I’m proud of the many successes our office achieved this session.”
All of the aforementioned legislation passed both chambers and is pending the Governor’s signature, except the Long Bill which has already been signed.