#Coleg notebook: Eyewitness ID reform and bipartisan workforce development

Seeing straight on eyewitness ID 

The Colorado Independent’s Nat Stein has just released a two-part series on the power and perils of eyewitness identification. On the one hand, the status quo that elevates witness identification in court has a firm logical footing — the person who saw the crime happen is probably best suited to point out the perpetrator. On the other hand, as explored by Stein, witnesses, like all people, are fallible and hinging an entire prosecution on a single person’s memory can lead to serious miscarriages of justice.

Per, Stein’s report, eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the nation:

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This afternoon, SB 58, a bill to establish “best practices” around eyewitness ID will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and Rep. Daniel Kagan, D- Cherry Hills Village.

The bill would require law enforcement to reform their eyewitness ID policies to reflect best practices or to accept a state model based on the Innocence Project’s “Core Four.” Those provisions include safeguards like choosing a police officer to conduct the lineup who doesn’t know who the suspect is and letting witnesses know that the investigation will continue regardless of whether or not the make an identification or feel entirely certain about their choice. You can read more about the measure, and how it came to the Capitol, in part two of Stein’s series, “That’s the Guy!”

Update: SB 58 passed 5-0 out of Judiciary and is headed to the senate floor.


Senate advances workforce development 

In a 34-1 vote today, Senators advanced a bipartisan proposal (SB 82) allowing counties to offer local property tax credits or rebates to folks who contribute to a workforce development fund under the umbrella title “Bright Future Colorado.” The measure threads the needle between offering public cash incentives for post-secondary workforce training without attracting funds to state coffers that would be subject to rebates on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR).

“This program will help ensure that the needs of Colorado employers are matched with the needs of an educated, well-trained workforce,” said Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, in a release following the passage of her bill, which she co-sponsored with Sen. Vicki Marble, R- Fort Collins.

The measure now moves to the House, where Majority Leader Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, has put workforce development at the top of her agenda.


No EBT cash withdrawal at pot shops

After a failed attempt last year, Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, has successfully reintroduced a measure that would prohibit the use of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards at ATMs in Colorado’s recreational cannabis shops. Today the measure passed in the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 23-12.

“This is going to save the state a lot of heartache in the long run,” said Marble on the floor, noting the federal restrictions against allowing EBT cards to be used in places like liquor stores and gambling halls. “We could get penalized by 5 percent on our federal welfare monies if we don’t comply with the law.”

Though there is no federal prohibition against allowing EBT cards to be used in pot shops, Marble argued that her measure is consistent with Colorado’s ‘better safe than sorry’ approach to legislating legalized cannabis at the state level.

SB 65 now moves to the House.


Miss Loveland visits the Capitol 


This year’s “Miss Loveland,” Loveland high schooler Ellen Colpitts, was on the floor today in celebration of a nearly 55-year-old Valentine’s week tradition.  Here she is with her district’s senator, Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.


Eyewitness image by Ivan Dervisevic