DENVER – The Colorado Senate opened up to a slightly different tune on Wednesday.
This was due to a visit by Colorado Christian University women’s choir that had stopped by the Capitol as part of a five-day performance tour around the state.
“This is just sort of our kick-off,” said Jill Schroeder-Dorn, choir director.
Following two songs,the Senate returned to order and proceeded with floor work.
Included was Senate Bill 125, which would allow Coloradans who are exonerated of a crime to request a lump sum payment after being proven innocent.
Current statute requires yearly payments of $100,000 until the state has paid the total amount owed, which is $70,000 per year incarcerated with additional compensation for years spent on death row, probation or on the registered sex offenders list.
Sen. Lucía Guzmán, D-Denver, said the option to receive a lump sum payment would allow individuals to purchase a home without having to apply for a loan. Securing a loan can be difficult for people incarcerated because they lack a credit score, she said.
Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, questioned if a lump sum was in the best interest of the exonerated, but this argument was quickly struck down by a Republican colleague.
Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, said the bill represented an opportunity to make people whole as quickly as possible after the “heavy hand” of the law had wrongly turned on them.
“The notion that somehow we know best on what time frame and how to dole this out, I think just smacks of the hubris of top-down management that our laws can too often take,” Hill said.
In addition to SB 125, which was adopted upon second reading, 10 other bills passed second reading, 14 cleared final votes and 18 were scheduled for committee hearings in the two chambers of the Legislature.
Included in the bills heard in committees was House Bill 1014, known as the “ballot selfie” bill. It was approved on a 4-1 bipartisan vote in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.HB 1014 would allow voters to display a picture of themselves with their filled-in ballots on social media without fearing retribution from law enforcement.
“This is really a question of removing burdensome limitations on our First Amendment right to free speech,” said Hill, who sponsored the bill.
The measure still has to clear the Senate.