A get-tough prostitution bill that focuses on people who pay for sex, not prostitutes and pimps, has cleared its first test in Colorado.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-0 Monday to raise minimum fines for johns to $5,000, with the money going to a statewide network of "schools" for johns, which are scared-straight-type programs for first offenders who solicit adult prostitutes.
Currently the crime is classified as a "petty offense" and in some places carries a penalty of just $75 -- less than littering. Supporters say dramatically higher fines are needed. But the minimum fine was changed to $5,000 from $10,000 after worry from some lawmakers that the higher fine could simply inspire johns to try fighting the charges instead of paying the fine.