Multiple sources have confirmed that Governor Bill Walker secretly signed Senate Bill (SB) 54 into law on Sunday. It goes into effect at midnight. However, there have been no press releases and several legislators I spoke with were unaware the bill was signed. It seems that only the Department of Law was informed about the signing. Talk about bizarre. Typically, when a bill is signed there is an official signing ceremony and a press release informing the public.
SB 54 makes changes to the unpopular crime reform bill SB 91, signed in July of last year. The recent special session was dominated by SB 54. The senate passed the bill in April but the house did not pass it until this last special session. After the house passed it, questions were raised by the Department of Law about the constitutionality of one of the amendments. Many in the house thought the senate would not concur, and that the issue would be dealt with in a conference committee. However, the senate surprisingly did concur, leaving the constitutional question unresolved.
It is unclear why Walker signed the bill in secret. He may have initially thought getting tough on crime was a good idea at a time when the public is angry about SB 91. So calling a special session to deal with SB 54 would have potentially got him more support from the public. But this last special session ended up being a debacle and the bill ended up upsetting many Democrats. So maybe he is just trying to end it as quietly as possible. Whatever the reason, it is strange a bill this important would get signed and go into effect without officially informing the public.