STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
COMMITTEE ON JOINT JUDICIARY
|Time:||02:04 PM to 04:25 PM|
|This Meeting was called to order by|
|This Report was prepared by|
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Bills Addressed: ||Action Taken:|
|Briefing from the Department of Public Safety|
Briefing from the Department of Law
Chairwoman Levy called the committee to order and invited representatives from the Department of Public Safety to brief the committee.
02:08 PM -- Department of Public Safety
Peter Weir, Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), provided an overview of the department. He discussed the role of DPS in the success of the Democratic National Convention. Mr. Weir also acknowledged all of the other state departments that were integral to the planning and the success of the convention. He provided the committee with the Annual Report from the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (Attachment A). This commission convened last January and he indicated that they have done a lot of work in a short period of time. He also provided the committee with the report of the Governor's Working Group on Law Enforcement and Illegal Immigration (Attachment B). He discussed the work of this group and the challenges that law enforcement faces on a daily basis concerning crimes committed by individuals in the country illegally. In conclusion, Mr. Weir updated the committee on the School Safety Resource Center, which was enacted by legislation in the previous session. Mr. Weir provided the committee with the department's presentation to the committee (Attachment C). Senator King asked about specific provisions of the Report on Law Enforcement and Illegal Immigration and the need for statutory changes.
Kevin Klein, Director of the Division of Fire Safety, spoke about the division's initiative concerning life safety in public schools. He indicated that they have been doing routine annual inspections of public schools and community colleges. Mr. Klein discussed the collaborative partnerships that the division has with other state agencies. Senator Morse asked about specific violations found in schools. Mr. Klein indicated that artwork in schools, fire doors propped open, and smoke detectors out of date are common violations. Senator Morse discussed the cultural shift that schools need to undergo to conform with some of the regulations. Mr. Klein noted that the schools have been very cooperative. Representative McCann asked about the overlap in the inspection function at different agencies. Representative Levy asked about discussions concerning creating a state fire marshal position.
Jeanne Smith, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice, spoke about the functions within the division. She stated that their largest unit is the Community Corrections unit. She explained that the unit sets standards, develops programming, and performs financial duties. Ms. Smith noted that the division administers a number of federal grants. She also discussed the programs that the division maintains to assist victims of crimes. Ms. Smith described a parole risk assessment overview being conducted by the division. She noted that the division also has responsibility for witness protection. Senator Carroll asked about the witness protection program and how the risk to witnesses is assessed.
Representative Gardner asked about the state's compliance with the Adam Walsh act. Ms. Smith noted that Colorado is currently close to complying with the major provisions o the act. However, she stated that some technical differences will make full compliance difficult. For example, the Adam Walsh act tracks sex offenses against children based on age ranges and Colorado does not. Ms. Smith indicated that there may be a significant cost to bring the state fully in line with the federal act. Representative Levy asked about whether or not there is any leeway in the law for states that are in compliance with the intent, but perhaps not the technical provisions of the act. Representative Levy also asked if a plan exists for the state to come into compliance. Senator Morse asked about the budget request for additional community corrections beds.
Ron Sloan, Director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), provided the committee with an overview of the bureau's activities. He explained that CBI oversees the forensic crime lab, criminal investigations, and fingerprint identification. CBI also is responsible for conducting background checks required by statute, conducting instacheck background checks on firearms purchases, and serving as a liaison with the FBI. He discussed the accomplishments of CBI over the past year, such as the success of the Democratic National Convention and the opening of the forensic crime lab in Grand Junction. Senator Carroll asked about the backlog for fingerprinting and background checks. Representative Pace asked about whether or not a need exists for a new warehouse to house evidence. Mr. Sloan stated that their facility needs have more to do with the crime lab facilities than with storing evidence. Senator Hudak asked about the average delays for instacheck. Senator Renfroe asked about the hours for the access to instacheck and whether those might be changed. Mr. Sloan noted that the hours are set in statute and would require the legislature to change them.
Mark Trostel, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol, spoke about the major initiatives in his division. He discussed the traffic safety function of the state patrol. Colorado leads the nation in declines in injuries and fatal crashes. He noted that part of the traffic safety function is education and the state patrol is nationally recognized for its youth driver training program. He also discussed the communications centers operated by the state patrol. Mr. Trostel noted that the state patrol tracks all of the autos stolen and recovered in the state. He discussed the security operations and victims assistance provided by state patrol. Senator King asked about DUI arrests. Senator Newell asked about teen fatalities. Representative Waller asked about inattentive driving as a major cause of crashes. Senator Newell asked about incidents of road rage. Senator Renfroe asked about completion of road constructions and how that might be a factor in a decline in crashes and fatalities. Representative Gardner asked about the status of the collective bargaining agreement with state troopers. Mr. Trostel indicated that the state patrol do have an employee partnership agreement, but are not a part of a collective bargaining agreement. Senator Morse congratulated Mr. Trostel on his service as he has announced his retirement.
Brenda Leffler, Director of the Office of Preparedness and Security, spoke about their charge to prevent acts of terrorism. She noted that their major divisions are the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CAIC) and the Colorado Infrastructure Protection Project. The CAIC is a multijurisdictional center for intelligence analysis. In 2008, the CAIC was designated as one of the top three information centers in the country. She discussed their role during the Democratic National Convention. Ms. Leffler also provided the committee with information on the Safe 2 Tell program which provides an anonymous method for individuals in schools to report suspicious activity.
03:41 PM -- Department of Law
John Suthers, Attorney General, provided the committee with an overview of the Department of Law. He introduced his staff and discussed the major duties of the department. General Suthers indicated that the department is divided into six operational sections. The Business and Licensing section conducts all of the legal work for all of the boards and commissions that license and regulate different industries. The State Services section provides legal services and legal opinions for other state government agencies. The Litigation section oversees the areas of government where governmental immunity does not apply, such as transportation and corrections. The Consumer Protection section enforces all of the consumer protection statutes as well as the state antitrust laws and oversees the tobacco litigation. The Criminal Justice section enforces securities fraud, insurance fraud, workmen's compensation, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, environmental crimes, and crimes that occur in multiple jurisdictions. This section also is in charge of criminal appeals in the state. The Natural Resources and Environmental section protects the interest of the state under the interstate river compacts.
General Suthers discussed the work of his office in the past year and the importance of certain cases to the fiscal management of the state. He related a case involving the last economic downturn when cash funds were used to balance the budget. A citizen group challenged this as a violation as TABOR and the state prevailed. General Suthers related other critical cases handled by his office in recent years. He discussed environmental cases ongoing that began in the 1980s. He also discussed the role of the business and licensing division in prosecuting mortgage fraud.
Senator Carroll asked about any policies that may invite the state to get sued. Senator Newell asked if the state has been too soft on environmental crime and how that could be changed. General Suthers noted that in current law pollution of water is less severe than pollution of the ground, and they will have a bill to try to remove that discrepancy. Senator Morse asked about General Suthers recent appearance before the Supreme Court for a water case. General Suthers discussed the case.
The committee adjourned.