Headlines July 8, 2021

Headlines July 8, 2021

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New Law Barres Use of Ketamine for “Chemical Restraint” in Most Settings

The use of the so-called “chemical restraint” known as ketamine has been barred for use in most prehospital settings in Colorado. The drug is a veterinary tranquilizer that has more recently been deployed in law enforcement encounters to immobilize persons deemed by police to be in a state of – quote – excited delirium.

The drug is known in Colorado for leading to the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain during an encounter with Aurora police. Police placed McClain in a chokehold while paramedics administered a dose of ketamine so large that it causes cardiac arrest.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has notified Emergency Medical Services directors of the suspension of ketamine in prehospital settings. The move comes on the heels of the passage of House Bill 1251, which restricts the use of the drug and increases reporting and training requirements for the narrow range of cases in which it can be applied.

Governor Jared Polis signed the bill into law Monday and accompanied it with a signing statement indicating that the law would take effect immediately.

New Laws Lift Debt-based Driver’s License Suspensions and Remove Fees/Fines for Juvenile Offenders 

Another recently signed law will lift debt-based suspensions of driver’s licenses in Colorado. HB 1314 repeals the Department of Revenue’s authority to suspend drivers licenses due to unpaid traffic fines or warrants for low level offenses, including failure to pay for public transportation, Debt based drivers license suspensions disproportionately affect low income Coloradans while restrictions on mobility can directly impact the ability to get to work to pay off the debt.

Another new state law tied to law enforcement-based debt has done away with a range of administrative fees and fines applied to so-called juvenile offenders. These include costs associated with prosecution and incarceration and with the collecting and testing of biological samples. These costs were usually billed to the parents of the adjudicated minor and disproportionately affected families of color. In signing HB 1315, Governor Jared Polis effectively forgave 58 million dollars in debt.

Colorado Redistricting Process Update

The state-level redistricting process is now underway and the Joint Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions will hold public hearings in Arvada and Denver next week.

The framers of the Constitution of the United States chose population to be the basis for sharing political power, not wealth or land.

In 2020 the Census Bureau counted the entire U.S. population and the location where each person usually lives. The information the census collects helps to determine how federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure and services.

The results are also used to adjust or redraw electoral districts based on where populations have increased or decreased.

Colorado will be adding an eighth congressional district. Colorado has put together an Independent Congressional Commission and a Legislative Redistricting Commission. Using the 2020 Census, they have put together preliminary maps for the state’s eight congressional districts, as well as the 65 state house and 35 senate districts.

Next week the two commissions will hold public hearings in Arvada and Denver on their preliminary redistricting plans.

If you would like to testify at the public hearings, either at the hearings or remotely, you need to sign up by visiting redistricting.colorado.gov.

The meeting in Arvada will be Tuesday, July 13 at 7:00 p.m. at Red Rocks Community College.

The Denver meeting will be Wednesday, July 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the Colorado State Capitol.