First day of Colorado legislative session targets gun control, abortion laws

DENVER – After a year of bitter contention over stricter gun laws, Colorado Republicans proposed bills on Wednesday that seek to repeal controversial legislation that was passed by Democrats in 2013.

The laws, which bans the possession of large-capacity (more than 15 rounds) magazines and require background checks for all private gun sales, triggered at least one lawsuit against the state and played a part in recall elections that put two southern Colorado lawmakers out of office.

HB 15-1009 would repeal the law banning possession and sale of large-capacity magazines. HB 15-1050, brought forward by Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Janak Joshi of House District 16, aims to repeal the background checks for the transfer of guns from non-licensed carriers.

Wednesday’s opening day of the Colorado legislative session included more than the anticipated repeal of gun laws.

A slew of proposed bills from both the House and Senate target some of Colorado’s hot-button issues, including one House bill that seeks to make performing abortions a felony and at least two Senate bills vying for surplus tax revenue in a battle over interpretations of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

Another bill seeks to make repeat DUI offenses a felony; yet another would waive state income tax requirements for active military members.

Two lawmakers in particular were behind both the magazine repeal effort as well as the anti-abortion bill. Representatives Chris Holbert, R-Parker, and Steve Humphrey, R-Severence, both signed their names to the bills. Longtime Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, along with Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, and newly elected Rep, Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, put their names on House Bill 1041, the anti-abortion bill.

Lawmakers spent Wednesday morning going through the official rigamarole of the first day, with speeches by new majority leaders Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, and photos with family members in the newly renovated chambers. But, in a flash, the afternoon brought the much-anticipated first readings of proposed bills, which legislators pre-filed last month.

State Senators introduced 47 bills and the House 64 bills, between them tackling almost all of the major issues expected to be the legislative radar this year – gun control, TABOR and marijuana, among them.

The abortion bill is an echo of past attempts to get personhood laws on the books in Colorado. The most recent attempt, a law that would have classified killing unborn child as murder, was rejected by voters in the November 2014 election.

At least two bills proposed in the Senate target the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, but each aims to send surplus tax revenue in different directions.

The 20-year-old law allows the state to return surplus tax revenue to residents or re-purpose it for government spending, a move that requires voter approval. Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Jefferson County, has sponsored a bill that asks to put to vote the use of TABOR moneys to fund all-day kindergarten. Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, has proposed a bill that adjust the filtering of TABOR funds from sales taxes.

Leaders of divided state House call for cooperation

In addition to Cadman, who sponsored Senate Bill 15-001, the following bills were brought forward by Pikes Peak region senators:

– Sen. Mike Merrifield, a District 11 Democrat, is sponsoring SB 15-003, which would require that 50 percent of an educator’s professional evaluation be determined by student academic growth.

– Lambert, a District 9 Republican, co-sponsored SB 15-039, which proposes that the state of Colorado retain jurisdiction over certain federal lands.

– Grantham, a District 2 Republican, sponsored SB 15-046, which aims to reduce the cost of attainment of renewable energy for non-investor owned utility companies.

Local state representatives also brought forth a variety of bills, but few as polarizing as those sponsored by Klingenschmitt and Joshi.

– Rep. Dan Nordberg co-sponsored HB 1010, which established protocol for trustee and beneficiary notification.

– Rep. Lois Landgraf sponsored HB 1030, which works on employment services for veterans.

– Rep. Kit Roupe co-sponored HB 1026, which would secure parking for disabled military personnel.

– Rep. Paul Lundeen sponsored HB 1019, which would make minors immune to charges of prostitution.

– Rep. Polly Lawrence sponsored HB 1047, which would declare that Internet sweepstakes cafes are not in compliance with federal gaming laws.

– Rep. Pete Lee’s HB 1002 would make modifications to the Economic Gardening Pilot Project.

Contact Ryan Maye Handy: 636-0198

Twitter @ryanmhandy

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