With just weeks left in the legislative session, bills are moving through the statehouse at rapid speed. Topics that have recently generated a lot of interest are teen sexting and oil and gas legislation.
Colorado currently has one of the strictest teen sexting laws in the country. If convicted of sending sexual images with a cellphone, youth between the ages of 14 and 18 could face felony child pornography charges and be ordered to register as a sex offender.
Kristen Wyatt with The Associate Press and Charles Ashby with The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel spoke to Bente Birkeland about why lawmakers want to change the sexting law and why some oil and gas bills may be stalled.
On why there is a push to change the penalties for minors:
Wyatt: Prosecutors say ‘We’re not interest in sending kids to jail for a long time. We’re not interested in kids being registered sex offenders for their whole lives.’ But this is unsettling and we need a less severe penalty for children who do it.
On what the legislation would do:
Wyatt: The debate is whether it should ever be a felony for a minor to send a nude picture of another child. What if it is against their consent? What if they’re doing it to bully or harass the kid? Others say, this is very normal teen behavior and this should never be a felony.
On why there will be no traction this session on increased penalties for tampering with oil and gas equipment or increased drilling setback distances from schools:
Ashby: We’re never going to have complete resolution on that as long as we have people who disagree between safety and people against fossil fuels, and people against anything that goes against the oil and gas industry, jobs, the economy. It’s always going to be an issue. It’s always going to be a battle one-way or the other.
Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.