DENVER (Feb. 19, 2015) – A Colorado bill that would take the first step in stopping indefinite detention in the Centennial State passed out of a House committee on Wednesday.

HB1114 would prohibit state cooperation with any federal attempts to indefinitely detain any person in Colorado under provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, or any similar federal law.

Except as described in subsection (2) of this section, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, an entity described in paragraph (b) of this subsection (1) shall not provide aid to an agency of the armed forces of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, or detention of any person pursuant to section 1021 or 1022 of the federal “National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal year 2012″, H.R. 1540, PUB.L. 112-81, as amended, or any substantial similar successor provision of federal law, if such aid would place the entity in violation of any provision of the United States Constitution, the Colorado Constitution, or any law of this state.

The House Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs passed the bill unamended to the House Committee of the Whole by a 6-5 vote.

“Entities” covered by the prohibition include any state agency, political subdivision, or employees of a state agency or political subdivisions acting in their official capacities. This includes members of the Colorado National Guard.

By banning all cooperation or assistance, HB1114 would make it much more difficult for the feds to indefinitely detain a person in Colorado. The federal government almost always depends on state and local cooperation. This bill would strip that away.

But while the legislation would count as a good first step, it would require further action if passed.

By including the language, “if such aid would place the entity in violation of any provision of the United States Constitution, the Colorado Constitution, or any law of this state,” the bill does not create an express prohibition. Rather, since no official determination has been made on constitutionality as of yet, it leaves that determination up to discretion. The legislature would need to take further action to specify exactly what actions constitute a violation of the law.

Never-the-less, HB1114 would serve as a powerful first step if activists in the state continue pressing the issue in the future.

“While this is a small step forward, it’s an important one,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “It barely got out of committee with a 6-5 vote as is. Making it even stronger would have guaranteed that it was voted down, leaving us with nothing, instead of something, to build on.”

Virginia provides a great example an initial bill jump starting future action. The Old Dominion State was the first in the country to prohibit cooperation with indefinite detention without due process. This year, the state legislature is considering a bill that would significantly strengthen that ban.

HB1114 would also set the stage for counties, cities, towns, etc. to step up and get involved, and give the new law teeth. Activists would be able to use the legislation as a springboard to take action at a local level by pressing local governments to pass legally-binding ordinances to give the new state law additional force. The local legislation would do the following.

  • Express full support for the new state policy to “refuse to provide material support for or to participate in any way with the implementation within this state of any federal law that purports to authorize indefinite detention of a person within Colorado.”
  • Create an express prohibition on the use of any local government assets – funds, employees, and the like – to provide material support for or participate in any way with federal indefinite detention.

Once the state is blanketed with localities that have passed such measures, the practical effect would prove even stronger than if HB1114 had ordered them to take action.

The Committee of the Whole will need to pass HB1114 before it receives a vote by the full House.


In Colorado, to support this bill, follow all the action steps at THIS LINK

All Other states, push back against indefinite detention powers at this link.

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

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