Colorado Republicans made an attempt to delay the speedy movement of a sweeping oil and gas industry regulation bill by requesting the reading of an unrelated 2,000 page bill on the Senate floor.
The oil and gas bill, Senate Bill 19-181, would change the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission’s mission to prioritize health and safety over development, and would give local governments more authority to regulate drilling.
Senator John Cooke, R-Greeley, requested that House Bill 19-1172, which looks to re-codify statutes related to professions and occupations, be read in full on the Senate floor Monday as a way to stall the oil and gas bill.
Colorado’s constitution does not allow for the filibuster, so Republicans believed reading HB 19-1172 in full was a tool they could use to delay the oil and gas bill. The minority party has grown increasingly frustrated over how fast the legislation has been moving and are concerned that all stakeholders weren’t brought to the table when the bill was drafted.
It was estimated that the bill reading could take several days, but Democrats found a way to speed up the reading by using several computers to finish it. The computers helped to finish the reading in under eight hours.
The Senate Republicans said in a tweet there were five computers reading 650 words per-minute, saying it was "a clear violation of the spirit of the Colorado Constitution and the rules of the Senate. No human can understand this."
"Repeated efforts to get Democrats in the General Assembly to slow down and appropriately vet, debate, and discuss these massive pieces of legislation that threaten billions in state revenue, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the Colorado way of life have fallen on deaf ears," Republican leadership said in a statement.
"We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that happens," said the statement from Cooke, Minority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Douglas County, Minority Caucus Chair Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, and Minority Whip Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction.
Senate Democrats called the GOP’s move an "ineffective use of taxpayer dollars" in a tweet.
Cooke represents Weld County, the largest energy producing county in Colorado. County officials last week testified against the bill, saying it would hurt the industry and the county’s tax revenue.
"The fiscal problem with Senate Bill 181 on energy producing counties like Weld County will be significant. Not only to Weld County government, but to all local taxing jurisdictions within my county," Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer told the Senate Finance Committee.
The bill passed the Finance Committee on Thursday and the Appropriations Committee on Friday, both with party-line votes. It is in its second reading in the Senate Tuesday. If it passes on third reading, it will move to the House.