Headlines for March 27, 2023
Colorado House Dems Shut Down GOP Filibuster In Gun Bill Debate
The Colorado House passed two gun reform bills Sunday after Democrats ended three days of Republican filibustering. Democrats called for a rarely used rule to limit debates after a simple majority vote. Lawmakers were given one hour each to debate on second reading for Senate Bills 168 and 170.
Bill 168 would make it easier for victims to sue gun manufacturers and dealers. Bill 170 would expand the state’s extreme risk protection order, which allows law enforcement officials to confiscate firearms from people a court considers a risk.
Opponents of Bill 170 said Sunday it’s too broad and might disable those who need self-defense, and endanger police tasked with confiscating firearms.
Republican Representative Scott Bottoms said the bill could discourage gun owners with mental health issues from seeking help from pastors and psychologists.
“You vote this bill in and you’re gonna undercut people that really need help from getting help,” Bottoms said.
Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon clarified that SB-170 was expanded to mental health professionals, licensed health professionals, as well as educators in K-12 and higher education. She added the bill doesn’t require anyone to report, and that there must be proof of an imminent, substantial risk.
“Part of the reason we are expanding this bill is so we don’t have to confront a wall and a gatekeeper who will not respond to the cry for help,” Bacon said. “And so we will not put people in the position to which they will be begging for help and not be able to get it.”
The Senate will now review the bills for amendments.
Denver Enforces New Rules Against Wage Theft
The City of Denver’s Auditor’s Office and its Labor division put into place new rules around wage theft. Employers commit wage theft when they fail to pay workers the full wages to which they are legally entitled, regardless of their immigration status. Denver City Council passed the Civil Wage Theft Ordinance in January.
Employers must provide their workers with a city auditor-approved wage notice stating the minimum wage, that wage theft is a crime, and that employees may seek unpaid wages. In addition, workers’ complaints alleging wage theft may be submitted to the Auditor’s office for investigation.
Denver’s minimum wage is $17.29 per hour. Employers who commit wage theft and retaliation can face penalties of up to $25,000 per incident.
Denver Airport CEO Withdraws From FAA Nomination After GOP Opposition
The head of Denver’s International Airport has withdrawn his nomination to lead the Federal Aviation Administration. Denver airport CEO Phil Washington withdrew from consideration to lead the country’s air transportation agency over the weekend after a committee vote to advance Washington’s nomination was indefinitely postponed. The FAA Commissioner position has been vacant since Steve Dickinson left in March 2022.
Senate Republicans opposed Washington’s nomination, saying he is unqualified for the role. They pointed out Washington does not have experience as a pilot nor as an air traffic administrator.
Washington served 24 years in the army, then two decades in public transportation, and spent the last two years managing the Denver International Airport; one of the country’s busiest airports. Most of Washington’s transportation administration experience comes from running ground transportation systems in Denver and in Los Angeles.
Colorado City Mayors Oppose Polis’ Land Use Reform Bill
Several Colorado city mayors are calling Governor Jared Polis’ land-use reform bill with its approach to rezoning statewide, is overstepping the boundaries of local jurisdictions. Polis and supporters of reform say the bill was created to address the statewide housing crisis. In addition to opening the way for more construction, the bill’s proponents say it will lower costs, save water and reduce pollution.
Some opponents of the measure say the bill’s allowance for property owners to build accessory-dwelling units and middle-housing like carriage houses, townhomes and duplexes could favor short term rentals rather than locals seeking long term housing. And the Colorado Municipal League, which represents the state’s cities and towns, announced it will be aggressive in fighting the reform.