DENVER – Senate President Morgan Carroll defended sending nearly 50 percent of Republican bills to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee – aka “the killing committee” – Wednesday because there is “no obligation to pass bad laws in Colorado.”
Of 39 bills introduced by Republican Senators, 19 have been sent by the Senate Democrat leadership to the “killing committee” which scrapped the first three bills Wednesday on a party line vote. Sources said more GOP-sponsored bills will face the same destiny next week.
“Every bill will get a full, fair hearing, but we are not going to move the state backward,” declared Carroll in a statement.
Senate Democrats, who hold the majority by a single vote, would benefit from derailing Republican bills in committees rather than risking measures advancing and passing on the Senate floor. That threat is why the infamous “killing committee” is critical for Democrats – a survival strategy used by majority parties in past years.
After accusing Carroll and the Democrat leadership of foul play, Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman tempered his anger Wednesday but did not back down from his concern about Democrats dooming Republican-sponsored bills.
At issue was the fact that Sen. George Rivera (R-Pueblo) had submitted five Senate bills before the deadline, but his bill to repeal overreaching background checks for firearm exchanges and the associate fees passed last year was flagged for delay – a specification typically for a late bill or if requested by a bill sponsor.
Rivera was elected to replace Democrat Sen. Angela Giron, who was recalled because of her votes for gun-control, green energy mandates and her refusal to listen to constituents.
Rivera’s bill was tagged with a “delay form” as “a courtesy that allows for adequate planning for a committee hearing,” claimed Democrat Senate Majority spokesman Doug Schepman in an email to reporters.
Carroll, he said, didn’t want to repeat the contentious gun-control hearings last year that were scheduled back to back on the same day and cut off citizens’ testimony.
The Democrat leadership didn’t plan to assign Rivera’s gun-control repeal bill to a committee until April 16 – and then, the hearing date would have fallen on or close to April 20, the 15th anniversary of the horrendous Columbine High School shooting waged by two students.
After Cadman’s speech Tuesday, Rivera’s bill was expedited and assigned to the “killing committee.”
“It looks like the order of two bills got flipped in the process and so with that I think that was the misunderstanding,” said Carroll, scrapping the original excuse.
She did not cite the other bill in the mistake.
“Yesterday was extraordinary for all of us, I know it was a tough day,” declared Cadman in the Senate on Wednesday. “I think it was a situation that created a perfect storm.”
“The bottom line, I think, for every one of us is that we are committed to being here to protect and preserve this institution with all that it represents,” said Cadman, who added that it’s for the “people who sent us here.”
“But there was something seriously wrong in what happened to lead us to yesterday,” Cadman added.
“I believe in my heart there is an absence of malice, but that doesn’t change what happened,” declared Cadman.
Carroll’s promise of bipartisanship at the start of the session appears irretrievably broken.
After repeatedly postponing the vote on the traditional civility resolution, Senate Majority Leader Rollie Heath (D-Boulder) made a motion to move it to May 8 – a day after the session ends.
“When it comes to civility, actions speak louder than words,” said Heath. “And I know we’re all going to conduct ourselves civilly.”