By Ali McNally, STATE BILL COLORADO
A bill allowing lobbyists to bypass security to enter the Capitol was killed Tuesday in a 7-4 vote by the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs committee.
Under proposed legislation HB-1092, lobbyists would use form of identification to bypass security in the Capitol by paying a fee and for a criminal background check. Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, who sponsored the bill, said that Colorado State Patrol officers who perform the checks spend “an inordinate amount of man power everyday” checking people entering the building. He added that the El Paso County courthouse has a process where attorneys can apply for a card with a modest fee to bypass security.
Those in favor of the legislation was Rep. Edward Casso, D-Commerce City; Rep. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland and Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland. Rep. Joe Miklosi, D-Denver, did not vote because he wasn’t clear on the legislation’s terms about volunteer lobbyists.
“Some lobbyists have been here for 10, 15 and 20 years and know some of the police officers,” Liston said at the hearing. “These are men and women who work in the Capitol every single day. There’s never been an incident where lobbyists have caused turmoil. They would lose their livelihood.”
Four other testimonies were heard, including that of former Speaker of the House Ruben Valdez, now a lobbyist.
“I think that common sense will tell you that this bill is a good bill,” Valdez said. “I’m glad to have security, but there comes a point where it gets out of hand and defies common sense.”
Those opposed to the legislation, such as Rep. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, said that all citizens should be allowed the same access as the lobbyists. However, she also felt that the bill could have fodder with some changes with its language.
“Putting this in state law is of great concern for me,” Todd said. “But don’t kill the bill. Let’s fix it.”
Two lobbyists testified in opposition to the bill. Colorado Common Cause director Jenny Flanagan agreed with Todd that the legislation wasn’t constitutional because ordinary citizens wouldn’t be granted the same access as the lobbyist.
“It took me less than a minute to get through security today,” Flanagan said. “[Under the legislation,] the lobbyist who can afford to get in line will be able to continue talking to the legislator through security, while the ordinary citizen can’t. All voices should be able to get into the Capitol the same way.”
Liston said he is committed to the bill and will bring it back next year regardless of today’s outcome.
Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver co-sponsored the bill, but was not at the hearing because he was attending another committee hearing for PERA.