A Perfect Ten

The Colorado Legislature has its Ten Commandments.

Because Colorado juries weren't sending death row enough tenants, in 1995 the legislature took the death-penalty decision away from juries and gave it to a three-judge panel. But this system hasn't exactly been knocking them dead, either. Since the first panel was convened last April to consider the case of Robert Riggan, only two convicted murderers (out of a possible six) have been given the death penalty: Francisco Martinez, who led his gang in the brutal rape and murder of Brandy Duvall, and Cody Neal, who killed two women with an ax and raped a third. And so Senate President Ray "Hang 'em High" Powers is once again going for the kill, pushing for a change in the current system -- not, however, by returning the death-penalty decision to a pansy jury, but by handing it over to a single judge who presides over the trial.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery -- unless it's with a member of the opposite sex.

For the fifth straight -- very straight -- year, legislators saw fit to waste their time by considering a measure that would outlaw marriages between members of the same sex (not that they're legal in Colorado, anyway). On February 14, as same-sex partners lined up at the Denver City and County Building to pledge their commitment to each other and sign the city's partnership registry, two blocks away, busybody lawmakers were dictating just which sort of body could legally link with another. But according to Representative Mark Paschall, his provision that a marriage in Colorado be a union "between one man and one woman" is not just aimed at stopping same-sex unions: It's also a slap at "polyamorous" relationships.

8. Thou shalt steal any opportunities to tie legislation to Columbine.

There is "no government solution" to the Columbine tragedy, Senator Marilyn Musgrave proclaimed in the early days of the session. But she was talking then about proposed gun-control legislation -- not Andrews's Ten Commandments proposal or the current push to punish small businesses that allow too-young teens to work late, thus putting them in harm's way of bullets that would bounce off an eighteen-year-old.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness -- unless, of course, you have the floor.

And then, anything goes.

Next week, #10: Thou Shalt Not Mess With US West.

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