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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 2, 20174min329

Just as the state Senate had agreed to tighten the screws on driving drunk in Colorado, the national Mothers Against Drunk Driving issued a public statement Monday afternoon reminding everyone that alcohol is “still the biggest cause of traffic deaths and injuries in the nation.” Even in the era of legalized pot.

Colorado bill allowing bars to stay open past 2 a.m. dies in legislature

The advocacy group says it is setting the record straight amid some confusion over new statistics that are making the rounds in the nation’s news media:

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released an update last week to its 2015 drug impaired driving report. As a result, some media coverage has suggested that drugged driving has overtaken drunk driving in terms of traffic fatalities.

…According to the GHSA report, drugs were found in 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes compared to 37 percent (for alcohol). This does not mean that more crashes were caused by drugged driving than drunk driving. 

The press statement by MADD cites a list of reasons as to why that’s so, including:

The tests for drugs and alcohol and the data reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) are completely different. They do not provide an apples to apples comparison…

Tests for drugs (other than alcohol) can detect presence of a wide range of drugs, from illegal substances to over the counter and prescribed medications which may or may not have been misused. And unlike alcohol, there is no measure of the amount of the drug.

The presence of drugs found in a driver’s system does not mean impairment, nor does it imply that drug use was the cause of the crash. Drug tests may not reflect recent use, but use days ago. Currently, there is no way to distinguish presence of drugs and impairment.

Clear enough?

The state Senate meanwhile unanimously passed the bipartisan House Bill 1288, stepping up penalties for driving drunk. The measure, co-sponsored in the upper chamber by Republican state Sen. John Cooke of Greeley (he’s a former Weld County sheriff) and Democratic state Sen. Lois Court of Denver, is aimed at habitual offenders.

A Senate GOP press release offered details:

HB 1288 requires courts sentence criminals who commit class 4 felony DUI or have been charged with four subsequent DUIs to up to 2 years, and no less than 90 days in the Department of Corrections.

The bill also mandates additional community service requirements of up to 120 hours, as well as further drug and alcohol safety classes.

The GOP press statement also noted that in 2017, DUI fatalities were already up 6.5 percent, with 34,140 citations issued to impaired motorists.

The legislation, unamended in the Senate, was approved previously by the House, where it started. It now goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirApril 19, 20173min406
Democrats cheered the Senate’s passage Tuesday of a bipartisan plan to extend workers-compensation coverage to on-the-job victims of post-traumatic stress disorder. House Bill 1229 theoretically could apply to any line of work but is especially aimed at cops, firefighters, paramedics and other first-responders whose duties routinely expose them to high levels of stress, danger, violence, and even […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 21, 20172min223

A decent wage is hard enough to come by in some lines of work, so state lawmakers are cracking down on employers who cross the line by shortchanging their workers on overtime or forcing them to work on their own time.

The “Wage Theft Transparency Act,” sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Republican state Sen. John Cooke of Greeley, fine-tunes current law on the subject, establishing data on wage theft violations as public information and requiring the Division of Labor to release any findings upon request, regardless of proprietary information.

House Bill 1021, which already has passed the House, unanimously cleared the Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee on Thursday. A press release from ruling Senate Republicans quotes Cooke:

“If you’re not paying overtime, if you’re forcing employees to work off the clock, if you’re paying less than minimum wage you are purposefully breaking the law..Wage theft harms hardworking Coloradans who often don’t have the resources to defend themselves, so we’re going to stand up for them. We’ve heard from the business community on this and we’re optimistic. Most of our Colorado businesses are good actors who care for their employees, but those few who don’t should know that we’re watching them.”

Wage theft can include tactics like failure to pay overtime, minimum wage violations, employee misclassification, illegal deductions in pay, working off the clock or not being paid at all.

The legislation now faces the full Senate.

 



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 10, 20172min307

… but then again, maybe not. Fox 31 Denver just posted this update on a Boulder County brush fire threatening homes earlier this morning:

…Which gives some current context — even in mid-winter — to a bill now making its way through the legislature. Senate Bill 50, introduced by Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, unanimously passed the full Senate Thursday and now heads to the House.

The seemingly modest measure is worth a mention as another hedge against the devastating fires that can claim lives and property in our state. The Senate Republican press shop put out this statement on the legislation:

Forest fires are a persistent threat in Colorado, and Senate Bill 17-050 helps prevent the damage and devastation left in their wake.

Senate Bill 50 merges two existing grants to provide continuous funding to rural communities at persistent risk of destructive wildfire.

“Consolidating these grants will help rural Colorado communities continue to reduce risks posed by wildfire and establish forward-looking land stewardship practices,” said Cooke. “Wildfires are a constant threat to Colorado, and we will continue to take steps to protect people, property, and firefighters from the dangers fires present.”

 



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 7, 20172min220

Authorities wouldn’t want more eyes taking in the likes of child pornography — except when it comes to those who must examine it as evidence in the investigation of sex crimes. Current state law allows only certified peace officers to possess and view such illegal, sexually exploitative material when in fact computer forensic examiners, crime analysts, lawyers, and other law enforcement personnel also are involved in building sex-crime cases for prosecution. A bill unanimously approved Tuesday in the state Senate Judiciary Committee aims to address that concern.

Senate Bill 115, introduced in the upper chamber by Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, would grant legal access to law enforcement personnel who, in the performance of their duties, are required to possess and view the content. The Senate GOP communications office quotes Cooke, a former Weld County sheriff:

“Current law impedes criminal investigations into sexual crimes in which law enforcement seeks to protect and provide justice for some of our state’s most vulnerable populations,” said Cooke. “By expanding the verified personnel who may possess sexually explicit materials, we can not only help ensure that law enforcement officials are given the tools to swiftly serve justice, but also keep those officials safe from prosecution in the execution of their duties.”