Bill adds ‘perceived’ race, sexual orientation to state harassment law

A bill to fill a hole in the state’s harassment statutes cleared a Senate committee Wednesday.

Under current law, it is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine to harass someone based on race, color, religion or national origin.

The measure, HB1188, adds three more criteria: physical or mental disability, sexual orientation and race that is perceived rather than just actual.

The Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Grand Junction Republican Ray Scott, passed it on a bipartisan 5-0 vote. It is sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

Unanimous passage of the measure won immediate, albeit political, reaction from the state’s largest gay and lesbian organization, One Colorado.

“In the wake of the current administration, there has been a disturbing rise in hate crimes and violence targeting immigrants, LGBTQ community members, Muslims and others across the country,” said Daniel Ramos, executive director of the group. “In fact, just days after Trump’s election, there was a hate crime committed in Denver against a transgender Coloradan because of who she was. It’s a crucial time to make sure that the most vulnerable are protected in our state.”

The measure cleared the House last month on a bipartisan 48-15 vote, with all Western Slope lawmakers regardless of party affiliation favoring it.

PIPEFITTERS

The House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee on Wednesday killed on a 6-3 party-line vote a bill that would have lowered the standards on how much training pipefitters need to have to install sprinkler systems.

The measure, SB130, was highly criticized by Democrats in the Senate last month as jeopardizing safety for some of these systems, some of which are highly complicated when it comes to fire suppression.

Still, Republicans who control that chamber approved it on a party-line 18-17 vote.

Under current law, a pipefitter must have at least 8,000 hours of practical work experience on fire suppression systems over a five-year period to register with the state as a sprinkler fitter.

The bill would have lowered that to 6,800 hours of experience, the same amount of work hours a journeyman plumber is required to have.

Republicans said it makes little sense to have such a high work-hours standard, saying it is one of the highest in the nation.

 

FREE SPEECH

On Tuesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into a law SB62, which would prevent universities and colleges from creating free-speech zones.

The measure, introduced by Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, and Reps. Jeff Bridges, D-Denver, and Steve Humphrey, R-Severance, impacts only certain areas of a campus and does not interfere with classrooms.


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