I neglected to blog about this earlier, I’m afraid, but I figured better late than never. From the Denver Post, April 10, 2014:
A Colorado proposal cracking down on bullies who harass young people through text messages and social media has failed, shocking the bill’s sponsor and prompting her supporters to say they will try again next year.
“I am extremely disappointed and stunned, because it came out of the House with such strong support,” Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, said Thursday.
Her bill sailed through the House last month on a 54-10 vote. It would have made it a misdemeanor to inflict “serious emotional distress on a minor” with texts or posts on websites such as Twitter or Facebook.
A Senate committee voted Wednesday to shelve the proposal amid concerns of infringing on free speech and subjecting young offenders to harsh penalties.
Our readers might remember that I thought the bill would criminalize a great deal of speech that was constitutionally protected and quite proper. Mike Krause (Independence Institute) and I even cowrote a Denver Post op-ed criticizing the bill on those grounds. I’m very glad to see that the Colorado Senate committee members took the free speech and overcriminalization concerns seriously, which seems to have also happened in recent years with similar bills in Arizona and Tennessee.
Bill sponsors “said they’re requesting the issue be studied by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to have recommendations for another proposal next year.” I just hope it will be a vastly narrower and clearer proposal.