Environmental and Public Health Protection:
Being an indigenous Coloradan, Joe knows that it is his obligation to protect our Mother Earth in order to honor his ancestors and to ensure our current and future generations have a clean environment to enjoy. As a legislator, he has brought bills for better water quality testing and holding oil and gas operators liable for activities that harm the environment, people and property (HB-16-1310). He has been on the front lines for Coloradans fighting to keep oil and gas operations away from their homes and their children’s schools. That will not change when he becomes Attorney General. Joe knows Colorado needs to rapidly move in a different direction.
- His first act as Attorney General will be to withdraw the Martinez v. COGCC appeal from Colorado Supreme Court purview, if the case has not been decided. That means, the Colorado Court of Appeals’ decision will stand and any future oil and gas permitting must tilt in favor of the health, safety and welfare of the environment and people.
- Unlike other past administrations of Colorado attorneys general, Joe will use the power of the office to hold polluters accountable for damaging our environment and hurting Coloradans.
- Joe will be a friend to the renewable energy industry. To further our economic growth, the Office of the Attorney General can help facilitate renewable energy business growth in Colorado.
Criminal Justice Reform:
The amount of money Colorado spends incarcerating people is unconscionable. Colorado spends more money incarcerating Coloradans (per inmate, per year) than educating Colorado’s children (K-12 education – per student, per year). The system is unsustainable and immediate steps must be taken to reform the criminal justice system while still ensuring protections for victims. As the Vice Chair of the Colorado House Judiciary committee and as a civil rights attorney, Joe has passed the following legislation to reform our criminal justice system:
- Joe rid the state of the unconstitutional practice of Debtors Prisons in 2014. Debtors Prisons is an archaic system that jails poor people because they cannot pay a court fine or cost. Joe championed HB14-1061 to eliminate this practice, reducing the incarceration rate in our jails. The bill passed out of both chamber with wide bipartisan support.
- Prior to 2014, the Department of Corrections held inmates with serious mental health conditions in solitary confinement. This practice hurt society when these inmates were released into society without any social integration skills. Working with Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, Joe stopped this bad practice with the bipartisan passage of SB14-064.
- Many of the problems associated with probation are unforgiving rules that create barriers to success. Joe corrected one problem involving the use of medical marijuana for probationers. With huge bipartisan support, Joe passed HB15-1267, which allows probationers to use medical marijuana while on probation.
- Joe believes that people suffering from a mental health crises should receive help without being incarcerated. With the bipartisan sponsored and passage of SB17-207, Joe has ensured that Colorado now provides additional resource to help Coloradans suffering from a mental health crises without incarceration.
- Best evidence and practices show that individualized conditions of parole help reduce incarceration numbers and costs while preserving public safety. With wide bipartisan support, Joe passed HB17-1308, which allows for individualized conditions of parole. It is projected that with the passage of this bill, Colorado will realize a cost savings in the millions of dollars, which will then be rolled into other restorative justice programs.
- Joe is adamantly opposed to the private prison industry. He calls the industry the “Great Immoral Dragon of our time. A flesh for profit business. A modern day slavery.” Each year, Joe targets the private prison industry for elimination in the state of Colorado.
As Attorney General, Joe will partner with Colorado district attorneys, public defenders, victim advocates, and others to reduce the cost of incarceration while preserving public safety.
Joe has been a champion of victim advocacy and support during his time as a legislator. He has strongly stood beside Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) and other groups protecting victims and punishing lawbreakers. As Attorney General, Joe will remain committed to victim support and advocating for strengthening laws to combat against sexual assault, human trafficking and domestic violence. Joe’s strong commitment is evident in the bills he co-sponsored throughout his time as a legislator:
- SB13-227 – protecting sexual assault victims in a case where a child was conceived from having to share custody with the perpetrator of the sexual assault.
- HB14-1260 – increasing penalties for sex offenses against a child under the age of 12.
- HB14-1273 – combat human trafficking
- SB14-098 – strengthening crimes committed against at-risk elders.
- HB17-1253 – protect seniors from financial abuse.
- HB17-1172 – increased penalties for child sex traffickers.
- HB17-1150 – prohibiting bail for stalking and domestic violence offenders.
Joe firmly believes in the constitutional rights of medical and recreational cannabis users. Throughout his legislative career, Joe fought against the evident prejudice toward cannabis users. As Attorney General, he will continue to fight for these constitutional rights, including utilizing the state’s power to fend off any federal overreach. In 2017, Joe stopped an amendment from being added to SB17-184 (Private Marijuana Clubs) that would have criminalized private homeowners who had more than five cannabis users on their property. The death of the amendment resulted in the bill’s defeat.
Joe also will use his position as Attorney General to advocate for the elimination of civil asset forfeiture where there have not been charges and a conviction.