Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2006
May 27, 2005
The Honorable Colorado House of Representatives
Sixty-Fifth General Assembly
First Regular Session
Denver, CO 80203
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am filing with the Secretary of State House Bill 05-1014, "Concerning Substantive Changes To Strengthen The State Criminal Law." I will neither sign nor veto H.B. 1014. Therefore, this bill becomes law at 12:01 A.M. on June 9. This letter sets forth my reasons for letting this bill become law without my signature.
H.B. 1014 is part of the Colorado District Attorney's Council annual legislative package, designed to resolve specific prosecutorial issues, both substantive and procedural, which have been identified as problematic by the state's district attorneys.
During the legislative process, the Democrats in the General Assembly amended H.B. 1014, with the addition of physical or mental disability, as well as sexual orientation, to the list of protected classes in Colorado's hate crimes statute. It is regrettable that such transparent political leverage is being used on important issues that deserve to be evaluated on their own merit.
I have historically and consistently opposed hate crimes legislation, as it creates a perception that crimes against certain categories of citizens are somehow more reprehensible than crimes against everyone else. However, since the proposed expansion of hate crimes is intertwined with important criminal justice legislation, my responsibility is to weigh the provisions in this bill on an individual basis and then evaluate the bill as a whole.
In deciding whether to veto this legislation, it became clear that every other aspect of this bill is worthy of becoming law, as it contains important new tools for Colorado's war on crime and illegal drugs.
H.B. 1014 also contains necessary and important improvements to Colorado's substantive criminal law. It assists in the fight against drug abuse by conforming Colorado's list of controlled substances to match the federal law and bans designer forms of Ecstasy, drugs that are primarily used by young people and have no legitimate medical use. It also makes criminals who manufacture and store controlled substances liable for cleanup costs, reducing the impact on local governments and innocent property owners.
In addition, H.B. 1014 adds a new offense specifically intended to address credible threats against students, teachers and employees of public schools, further aiding prosecutors with the investigation and prosecution of these threats. This is an important change as under existing criminal law conditional threats may not always fit within the elements of current criminal offenses. In a school setting, this is not a risk I am willing to take. Indeed, this would have been a helpful tool for law enforcement to have in the days and weeks prior to the Columbine shootings. This provision will help make our schools safer.
On balance, the positive aspects of this bill enhance public safety and outweigh the negative aspect of an addition to Colorado's hate crime statute.
I am thus allowing H.B. 1014 to become law without my signature.
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