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Gazette Premium Content Bickering begins over Colorado gun legislation

By Megan Schrader Updated: January 15, 2014 at 7:56 am

Partisan bickering over measures to repeal gun legislation in Colorado has already begun, less than a week after political leadership in the General Assembly called for party cooperation in their opening day speeches.

Senate Republican leader Bill Cadman of Colorado Springs took the microphone on the Senate floor Tuesday to raise questions about why the Democrat leadership - specifically Senate President Morgan Carroll of Aurora - extended the deadline to introduce the first gun repeal bill of the legislative session.

"Never seen this in 14 years," said Cadman. who served in the House before becoming a senator. "I am anxiously awaiting her remarks and response to this egregious act."

A bill by Republican Sen. George Rivera of Pueblo would repeal universal background checks and fees associated with the checks.

Cadman said the Democrat leadership broke Senate rules by waiving the deadline to introduce Rivera's bill until April 16, without the bill sponsor's approval.

"I think some of the facts would have been helpful to Sen. Cadman," Carroll said in response to Cadman's accusations. "Everything is going to get introduced ... He went off prematurely."

Rivera's bill was delivered to the secretary of the Senate by 1 p.m. Tuesday, a few hours after Cadman made his speech. Cadman said that was a day late, according to his calculations. Later Tuesday, the bill was assigned a number - Senate Bill 94 - and will be read into Senate records Wednesday and assigned to a committee.

Rivera is one of two Republicans put into office in September by recall elections that ousted Democrats in Pueblo and Colorado Springs over gun legislation passed last year.

"I've never seen one legislator victimized specifically by the majority party like this," Cadman said in a press conference in his office after he brought up the issue on the Senate floor. "I was in complete disbelief that they would do this on the second day of the session, violate the rules, disrespect this senator."

Deadlines were waived on 35 bills in the Senate either at the request of lawmakers or to prevent a backlog of legislation in committees, which can at times limit public discourse, Senate Democrat staff said. Rivera did not request a waiver of deadlines, which Cadman said makes this unprecedented.

Carroll said despite the misunderstanding and public accusations, she is still dedicated to working with the Republican Party, including weekly meetings with Cadman that are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Cadman was less forgiving.

"Had I known that she would have done this, I would not have seconded her," Cadman said, referring to making a second motion to elect Carroll as president of the Senate on opening day of the session last week.

He even speculated some might start a recall effort in Carroll's district.

But as heated as the issue became Tuesday, the move to waive deadlines on Rivera's bill appears benign.

Carroll said they always had every intention of introducing Rivera's bill and assigning a bill number to it, but simply wanted the flexibility to assign it to committee when there would be time to listen to what is sure to be a crush of public comment on the subject.

Last year, lawmakers sat through hours of testimony on a slew of gun bills all on the same day and were criticized for ending testimony before everyone present had a chance to testify.

Carroll said this year, they are dedicated to ensure everyone who wants to have a say on the bills is given the opportunity.

Sen. Bernie Herpin of Colorado Springs, the other Republican who took office during the recalls, has said he will introduce a bill to repeal limits put on magazine capacity.

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