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Primary bill goes nowhere in Colorado Legislature

May 10, 2016 Updated: May 10, 2016 at 10:11 pm
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photo - Colorado State Capitol
Colorado State Capitol  

DENVER - Citing concerns about rushing a last-minute bill to create a presidential preference primary in Colorado, Senate Republicans killed the last hope of the 2016 legislative session to address unrest over what some called a caucus debacle.

"It's really frustrating when we try to bring legislation in the last week or 10 days of session without proper vetting," said Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling. "Why would we not have conversations earlier in the session rather than try to do them at the last moment? Quite frankly, rarely do I ever see good policy that is introduced in the waning days of session."

The final vote Tuesday in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee was 3-2, with two Democrats voting in favor of House Bill 1454. Sonnenberg and Sen. Ray Scott said they favored making the bill a study and changing the presidential nominating system before the 2020 election. Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, also voted no.

House Minority Leader Lucia Guzman said she had the support of the leaders of both political parties, broad bipartisan support in the House and support from the Secretary of State's Office.

"My colleagues are very distraught over the process that has taken place," Guzman said. "From the very beginning, there was bipartisan support for the bill to bring forward the primary election, as well as an opportunity to bring all voters into the opportunity to vote."

Guzman's bill would have created a primary and allowed unaffiliated voters to temporarily affiliate as either Democrats or Republicans for the primary.

The vote closes conversations about the issue in the General Assembly, which adjourns for the year Wednesday.

This fall, voters will likely see a ballot question on both open and closed primaries.

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