About midway through the 2012 legislative session, a Denver Post reporter described the session's activity as “vanilla.” That is to say it was way too bipartisan and lacked the traditional heavy partisan fights that Capitol reporters had come to know and stoke. The same couldn't be said at any point for the legislative session that just ended.
Colorado Democrats used the 2013 legislative session to cover an array of radically controversial topics including divisive social issues, extreme gun-control laws, and dangerously expensive Medicaid expansion.
Conversely, the GOP focused our efforts on helping small businesses and empowering justice for victims of violent crime. Unfortunately, most of these bills found themselves unceremoniously killed in the Democrats' State Affairs Committee.
I am proud of the work we were able to accomplish to help find justice for women who are the victims of sexual assault. Thousands of rape kits containing evidence that would help catch serial rapists were left untested, gathering dust in evidence lockers. Women who are the victims of sexual assault deserve justice, and hopefully, with the passage of HB 1020, many women will finally find exactly that.
We also were able to address issues related to a clerical error that resulted in the incorrect early release of Evan Ebel, the man who murdered Colorado Corrections Chief Tom Clements and Nate Leon. The legislation we passed will hopefully prevent these horrific mistakes from occurring again.
And even as contentious as this session was, there were opportunities for Republicans and Democrats to work together. For my part, we provided justice to women who have been assaulted, honored the brave men and women of our Colorado Civil Air Patrol and made it less likely that criminal sentencing orders will result in violent criminals accidentally being released earlier than they should be.
Much work is left to be done though. Democratic Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino unceremoniously dispatched legislation aimed at protecting children from sexual predators — gaming it all session. He remained obstinate for the balance of the session, playing political games and using parliamentary gimmicks to avoid a discussion on how we best protect our children from sexual predators. It was, in my opinion, the most shameful display of raw political gimmickry that I have ever seen.
For my part, I simply don't understand why anyone would go to such lengths to avoid a thoughtful discussion on how we protect our children from pedophiles.
I was also disappointed that my bill to reform the insanity defense in Colorado was killed. Clearly Colorado is out of step with other states when it comes to our current system. The way in which the insanity defense is implemented in Colorado clearly favors the criminal over the judicial process or crime victims. I hope that we are able to do so next year.
Though this session was the most partisan charged legislative session I've ever experienced, there's always hope for next year. My guess is, after running their liberal agenda as far to the left as possible this year, that the Democrats will pump the brakes a little next year in advance of the 2014 elections. For the sake of our safety and the sake of our state, let's hope they do exactly that.
Republican Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch represents District 43 in the Colorado House of Representatives.