Bills to Help Coloradans with Disabilities, Create New Rights for Assault Survivors

DENVER, CO– The House Judiciary Committee today passed legislation that will improve statewide protections for Coloradans with disabilities and create new rights for sexual assault survivors to have access to rape kit evidence.  

HB21-1110, sponsored by Representative David Ortiz, would update Colorado’s disability laws to ensure they are as protective as the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. It would ensure that Coloradans with disabilities have equal access to all government services, including government-managed webpages. It would also prohibit state agencies from promulgating rules that are less protective than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. It passed 11-0.

“While the federal ADA was a critical start to equity in basic human rights and accessibility in Colorado, there’s more we can do to align our state’s anti-discrimination laws with federal protections for people with disabilities,” said Rep. David Ortiz, D-Littleton, the first Coloradan to serve in the General Assembly who uses a wheelchair. “Government websites are major access points for critical state services, and we know that Coloradans with significant disabilities are more likely to need these services. This bill will require government websites to be ADA-accessible because we know too many Coloradans have found it difficult to access state services online.” 

HB21-1143, sponsored by Representatives Meg Froelich and Matt Soper, creates new rights for survivors of sexual assault. Under the bill, survivors would have the right to be notified when forensic medical evidence is submitted for testing, when law enforcement has received the results of the analysis, and 60 days prior to the destruction of the evidence. Survivors would also have the right to object to the destruction of the evidence, to be informed of whether a DNA sample was obtained from the analysis and matched to any DNA profiles in state or federal databases, and to receive physical documentation describing their rights under the law, as well as nearby resources, after the exam has been completed. The bill passed 10-0.

“No survivor should ever have to find out that their case has been closed and the rape kit evidence destroyed without their input,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “The bill we advanced today will create important new rights for sexual assault survivors to preserve invaluable evidence, prevent lost rape kit evidence and advance justice.”

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