DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado State Senate has gone from decorum to dysfunction these days, with yelling, name calling and stalling tactics.

“The climate is a little toxic right now,” says Democratic leader Sen. Steve Fenberg. That toxicity escalated when Republicans got a court order forcing Democrats to read every bill in its entirety — twice. Their goal is to force Democrats to compromise on a bill overhauling oil and gas regulations.

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“Our intention is to slow down the process enough that the majority will say they have so many things they want to accomplish, what do we have to negotiate on, what do we have to compromise on in these few bills, in order to keep the process moving,” says Republican leader Sen. Chris Holbert. He says he wants Democrats to amend the oil and gas bill to allow people to petition to stop it from taking effect.

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Fenberg says he already introduced the amendment and it failed.

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“Instead of saying ‘Okay, that’s the democratic process, I appreciate and respect the democratic process,’ they throw a tantrum. And I would say, in this particular instance, it’s not just a tantrum, it’s an overt threat and that’s not how we do things here. We shouldn’t have a system where if you don’t get your way you just threaten the other party until they say yes. That is what I’m not willing to do.”

Holbert says passing a controversial bill like oil and gas out of three committees in a week is also not how things are done, “I’ve been around 16 years… I’ve not seen partisan bills pushed through that quickly.”

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In the end, Fenberg says, it’s not just the oil and gas bill that could be impacted, “The impact is bills will die because there’s not enough time for them to pass before May 3. The impact could be that a state budget doesn’t get approved by the time we have to be constitutionally done with the session. That will have real impacts on people’s lives, not just some people, everybody’s life… That is using rules to obstruct and to stop the business of the democratic process and I think that’s wrong. I think voters would agree that’s wrong and I think the majority of people would say that’s childish and I would agree with that.”

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The budget bill alone is 600 pages. The legislative session ends May 3 unless the governor calls a special session.

Shaun Boyd