Gun waiting period, overdose prevention center bills advance despite all-night Republican filibuster
The Colorado State Capitol building is pictured March 22, 2022, in downtown Denver. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)
Colorado lawmakers advanced two controversial bills in the House early on Friday morning despite a Republican filibuster that lasted more than 16 hours.
A bill to establish a three-day waiting period for firearm purchases and one to allow local governments to open overdose prevention centers both passed on second reading and are set for final passage when the chamber meets for special weekend work.
The Colorado Republican Party is also holding a Central Committee meeting on Saturday in Loveland, where they are selecting a new party chair. The 19 House Republicans will now need to be at the Capitol instead.
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Republicans promised to fight both bills, particularly the firearm legislation that they argue infringes on Second Amendment rights, when they were first introduced. They followed through on that promise with lengthy debate that kept lawmakers in the Capitol overnight. Unsurprisingly, the effort was fruitless as the Democratic majority still went on to vote in favor of both bills.
“We fought them as hard as we could, but you see what our super-minority is, and we get steamrolled either way,” Republican Rep. Ryan Armagost of Berthoud said in a video he tweeted on Friday morning. “It was a long, stinging night for everybody.”
Debate on the waiting period bill started around 1:30 p.m. Thursday and ended around 2:30 a.m. on Friday. Lawmakers then took on the overdose prevention center bill until about 6:30 a.m.
While Democrats cast the waiting period bill as an opportunity to give people in crisis a “cooling off period” and common sense policy to reduce gun violence, Republicans argued it went against constitutional rights and could prevent people in danger from protecting themselves.
Of the dozen amendments Republicans offered on the waiting period policy — including exempting victims of violent crime — one made it through that would delay implementation of the law, should Gov. Jared Polis sign it, until October.
An amendment on the overdose prevention bill gives opponents time to submit a referendum petition on the issue. A referendum would let Colorado voters decide on the matter during the November 2024 election.
Bill sponsors say overdose prevention centers are public health tools to save lives and help connect people who use drugs with resources. Republicans, however, lambasted the concept as enabling illicit drug use.
Three other contentious firearm-related bills are up for second reading in the Senate, where Democrats also have a majority, on Friday, and it will likely be another lengthy debate.
Once the three-day waiting period and overdose prevention bills pass third reading, they will head to the Senate.
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