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Law to protect Colorado children goes into effect Friday

December 31, 2015 Updated: January 1, 2016 at 10:54 am
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photo - DENVER, CO - JANUARY 07: Senate President, Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, speaks on opening day of the 2015 Colorado Legislative session at the State Capitol Wednesday morning, January 07, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 07: Senate President, Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, speaks on opening day of the 2015 Colorado Legislative session at the State Capitol Wednesday morning, January 07, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post) 

DENVER - One Colorado Springs lawmaker hopes his new law will help keep Colorado children safe and prevent sex-trafficking.

Rep. Dan Nordberg, a Republican, sponsored House Bill 1078 in 2015, which requires the state to immediately report when children in state custody go missing.

"Colorado's most vulnerable kids deserve better and when they go missing from the system, it needs to be a top priority of the state to find them," Nordberg said Thursday. "This bill enables our local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies with the tools to do just that."

The bill is one of three Colorado laws that go into effect Friday. One changes the state's temporary car license tags; the other changes how fuel taxes are imposed on liquefied petroleum. Most new laws from the 2015 session took effect on Aug. 5 - 90 days after the end of the legislative session.

Nordberg's bill requires the those in custody of children that go missing to immediately notify local law enforcement through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Before the new law, the policy with Colorado's Division of Human Services was to notify law enforcement within 12 to 24 hours of a child going missing.

"During that time they were actively looking for the kid, checking with parents and friends," said Alicia Caldwell, communications director for DHS. "It wasn't a hard and fast rule but more of a general practice."

Caldwell said federal law also changed to require that states take action to prevent trafficking and improve notification.

Nordberg said statistics he saw from 2013 indicated that 60 percent of the victims rescued from sex trafficking operations were from the child welfare system.

"We have to get these kids as soon as they go missing," Nordberg said.

He co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, who is running for Denver District Attorney. The Senate sponsors were Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, and Laura Woods, R-Arvada.

Caldwell said the state sent memos in October to all of the county human services agencies and held online training sessions to ensure everyone was ready to implement the new policy.

Nordberg said he is working on a related bill for the 2016 session, which begins Jan. 13.

"We're seeing a really disturbing trend where victims are branded, pierced or tattooed," Nordberg said. "We want to do something to add another charge for that to continue to make Colorado one of the least hospitable places for these traffickers."

Laws also taking effect Thursday are:

Senate Bill 90 requires that temporary license plates adhere to many of the same standards as permanent plates, including readability and how it is attached to the car. Although the law goes into effect Friday, the new plates won't be implemented until July 1, according to the Department of Revenue. The department is working to finalize a contract with a vendor for the new temporary tags.

House Bill 1228 changes the way the Department of Revenue taxes liquefied petroleum gas, commonly referred to as propane or butane. Instead of being assessed at the point of sale the tax will now be assessed when it is put into a vehicle. Before this, those selling propane for uses other than in a motor vehicle had to file for a reimbursement of the taxes they paid. Now they simply won't pay the tax.

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Contact Megan Schrader: 286-0644

Twitter @CapitolSchrader

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