Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jun 2002
Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Contact:  2002, Denver Publishing Co.
Author: Ed Hawley


John Sanko's June 8 report on the bills signed by Gov. Bill Owens also
mentioned his veto of SB 39, which would have reduced prison terms for
first-time, non-violent drug offenders, but failed to report that this bill
received lopsided bipartisan support in the legislature (61-1 in the House,
28-7 in the Senate). Had the legislature still been in session, the votes
were clearly there to override the veto, which makes this an especially
audacious decision. 

His veto implies that the state's prosecuting attorneys, who were active in
drafting this bill, are soft on crime and unmindful of public safety.
Conviction of possession of less than 1 gram of a controlled substance would
have still been a felony under the bill, but no longer one requiring
obligatory imprisonment. 

Had Owens let the bill stand, it almost certainly would have saved the state
substantial money in lessened costs for housing and feeding non-violent
offenders. Hopefully this bill will be introduced and passed early enough in
the next session to make it possible for an ill-advised veto to be
overridden, should it occur again. 

Ed Hawley

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