Statutory Revision Committee: Three Years In

By Jessica Wigent

In the three years since its (re)creation in 2016, the Statutory Revision Committee (codified in part 9 of article 3 of title 2, C.R.S.) has, in accordance with its charge, introduced and passed more than 50 bills to modify or eliminate antiquated, redundant, or contradictory rules of law to harmonize the statutes with modern conditions. In 2018, these modifications included modernizing Dickensian references to “paupers” (HB 18-1142).

Since we last checked in with LegiSource, the SRC met five times: Three times in the 2017 interim (with a particularly memorable interruption during the August meeting—the total solar eclipse) and twice in the 2018 legislative session. During these lively hearings, committee members heard the presentation of memos and testimony on subjects as far-ranging as obsolete provisions relating to oaths and bonds of public officials to the need to address outdated terminology in statute related to the “legitimacy” of children.

Overall, hundreds of pages of statutory text have been repealed or brought into the 21st century through SRC-recommended legislation.

Membership
The SRC consists of eight legislators (two appointees by the majority and minority leadership in each house) and two nonlegislator, nonvoting attorneys appointed by the Committee on Legal Services. The current appointees are:

  • Senator Dominick Moreno, Chair
  • Senator Beth Martinez Humenik, Vice-chair
  • Representative Jeni Arndt
  • Representative Edie Hooton
  • Representative Hugh McKean
  • Senator Jack Tate
  • Representative Dan Thurlow
  • Senator Rachel Zenzinger
  • Patrice Collins
  • Brad Ramming

Under the SRC’s statute, House and Senate leadership and the Committee on Legal Services will appoint new SRC members in January of 2019. Current SRC members may be reappointed to another term.

Attending to the Antiquated, Obsolete, and Anachronistic

In 2018, the SRC introduced, the General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed more than 20 bills, including legislation:

    • Eliminating references to the Proposition AA Refund Account—repealed in 2017—which were still littered about the statutes (HB 18-1369);
    • Adding, at the request of attorneys from the judicial branch, a cross-reference in the crime of failure to register as a sex offender (§18-3-412.5, C.R.S.) to the requirement that the offender must file a cancellation form when he or she moves out of state (§16-22-108, C.R.S.) (HB 18-1356);
    • Modernizing outdated references to “mental retardation” in statute, after being made aware of the issue by an advocate in the disability community (SB 18-096);
    • Removing descriptions of children as “legitimate” or “illegitimate” in statute, a practice abandoned decades ago, as the state considers all children legitimate, regardless of the marital status of a child’s parents (SB 18-095); and
    • Cleaning up inaccurate references to “early childhood care and education councils”. They’re just “early childhood councils,” as former Senator Evie Hudak testified after bringing attention to the inaccuracy through her participation on an interim education committee (HB 18-1141).

How an SRC Idea Becomes a Bill

Executive department agencies, the judicial branch, interested Colorado residents, and nonpartisan staff from a number of agencies in and around the Capitol, as well as legislators themselves, have brought issues for the SRC to consider. Initially, staff considers these requests and whether they fall within the charge of the SRC and then prepares a memo detailing the requested change, often with a bill draft attached for the SRC to consider.

In addition, the statutory charge of the SRC includes examining “current judicial decisions.” To that end, the SRC has asked staff to review current statutes that are found by an appellate court to be unconstitutional. Staff annually prepares memos for the SRC to bring attention to these provisions.

An affirmative vote from at least five of the legislative SRC members is needed to introduce proposed legislation, and the SRC regularly considers more draft bills than it approves. In 2018, the SRC rejected multiple proposals it determined were outside its charge. All proposed drafts are publicly available on the SRC’s website and in the annual report submitted to the General Assembly each November 15th. You may also email staff for more information.

The SRC meets next in October, though they are still finalizing the date and the issues to be considered. Join the SRC mailing list and be notified when the details are available.

Know of any antiquated, redundant, or contradictory laws? Please contact the SRC staff via email:  statutoryrevision.ga@state.co.us
All meetings are public, and anyone and everyone is encouraged to attend or to propose issues to the SRC staff.