Gov. John Hickenlooper made a brief visit to Colorado Springs Monday morning, stopping at the Urban Peak campus to sign two bills sponsored and supported by Colorado Springs legislators.
HB 17-1204, sponsored by Rep. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs), allows many juvenile offenders to have their records sealed. Prior to the bill’s passage, minor criminal episodes would remain on individual records for decades, effectively blocking them from job opportunities, housing and education.
“When kids get in trouble at 16 or 17,” said Hickenlooper, “it haunts them for the rest of their lives. This bill gives them a second chance.”
“The bill,” according to the Colorado Municipal League, “identifies a modified record sealing process in juvenile cases. Law enforcement, victims, and prosecuting attorneys will still have access to these records. The bill requires automatic expungement if a juvenile is not convicted, and creates a formal process for a juvenile to seek expungement if convicted.”
The carefully crafted bill passed unanimously in both houses of the legislature. Repeat offenders, and those convicted of serious violent crimes are not eligible for expungement.
“We had a great legislative session with a lot of bipartisanship,” said Sen. Bob Gardner, (R-Colorado Springs).
Responding to a reporter’s question, the governor said he hadn’t decided whether to call a special session of the legislature to consider transportation funding.
Gardner had his doubts.
“If you call a special session, you to have the leadership of both parties on board, and prepared to bring their respective caucuses along,“ he said. “I’m not sure that’s possible in this case.”
City councilors Jill Gaebler, Richard Skorman, Bill Murray and Yolanda Avila were also present for the bill signing. After signing the bill, he gave the pen to Urban Peak Executive Director Shawna Kemppainen.
“We all know what it’s like to be in a position where our pasts start to hold us back,” said Kemppainen. “The state of Colorado has moved some huge boulders out of the way for young people.”