DENVER (AP) – Colorado’s governor had firm words for lawmakers from both parties Wednesday as they enter the second half of the legislative session.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper told reporters that he opposes a GOP bill to repeal a 2013 measure he signed into law that bans ammunition magazines holding more than 15 rounds. “I would have real misgivings about signing something that we know is going to make our states less safe,” Hickenlooper said in a midsession briefing in his office.
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And he said he’s not sold on a statewide ban on red-light cameras and photo radar to catch speeders. The bill has bipartisan support, but it has failed in past years amid opposition from police departments that argue the automated enforcement devices help public safety. Municipalities in opposition also say it should be up to them what to do about the cameras.
Hickenlooper echoed that sentiment.
“I do think it’s a local issue,” he said. “I’m not sure a state law needs to come out and opine on it.”
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The governor said he’s also working with lawmakers to resolve a deadlock over whether to add funding to a program letting immigrants get driver’s licenses and identification cards regardless of their legal status. The Democrat-sponsored law, which Republican lawmakers unanimously opposed when it passed in 2013, is funded entirely with fees paid by immigrant applicants. But the state Department of Motor Vehicles needs permission from legislators to access $166,000 to keep up with high demand.
The driver’s-license impasse has hung over the Legislature for weeks, with Republicans in charge of the Senate blocking access to the funds.
Hickenlooper said his administration has “devoted a significant amount of time” to the licensing issue. He noted that police and sheriffs support the program, arguing it leads to safer roads.
“It doesn’t give anyone the right to work illegally. It doesn’t give anybody permanent status,” Hickenlooper said about the licenses.
Other topics Hickenlooper addressed:
– He supports a bill to make repeat DUI offenders face felony charges and possible jail time. Colorado is among five states where drunken drivers face only misdemeanor charges even after repeated convictions. But lawmakers are trying to figure out how to pay for the increased costs to the judicial and prison systems. Hickenlooper said finding the money for the bill should be a priority.
– Regarding a bill to regulate powdered alcohol like liquid alcohol, Hickenlooper, a former brewpub owner, said: “I haven’t tasted the stuff. It sounds like a horrible idea to me.” But he added: “I’m also not sure that government should outlaw it.” Powdered alcohol is not in stores yet, but federal regulators on Wednesday approved it for sale.
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– Hickenlooper said Colorado’s divided Legislature, with Republicans controlling the Senate and Democrats the House, has worked well together. “I think the leadership in the Senate has been more than respectful and willing to listen to the other side. And I think the leadership in House really is bending over backwards to talk to each other.”
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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