08 May 2012

Neutered SB 163 Clears House Committee

SB 163, which would initially have reduced the penalties for a number of drug crimes in Colorado that are now minor felonies to misdemeanor status and downgraded moderately serious felony drug crimes to minor felony sentence, passed in the House Judiciary Committee yesterday without amendment from the Senate version, clearing its path to the House floor for consideration on the merits in a second reading today.

Alas, it managed this feat only because it was gutted in the State Senate, where it was introduced. In place of reforms to Colorado's criminal sentences, the bill now merely creates a commission to spend seven months studying and recommending reforms of Colorado's drug sentencing laws, without actually changing any sentences on the books now.  Commissions are a common consolation prize for bills with good ideas that too ambitious or bold to make legislators who aren't intimately familiar with the issues involved comfortable adopting them immediately.

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