Also at the Capitol: Voting and the death penalty

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DENVER — Wednesday marked another historic and emotional day at the Colorado Capitol, where Gov. John Hickenlooper and his cabinet reacted to the murder of Dept. of Corrections chief Tom Clements before signing three landmark gun control bills alongside victims’ families and then taking questions from reporters.

This reporter’s cell phone battery was dead by 10:45 a.m., just to give you an idea.

But lawmakers went on with their work after that packed press conference in the Capitol’s west foyer, and took action on several high-profile bills dealing with the death penalty, immigration law and the right to vote.

Here’s a wrap up:

Death penalty measures in limbo

Lawmakers heard testimony on House Bill 1270, a measure that would put a referred measure on the statewide ballot to allow voters to decide whether to abolish Colorado’s death penalty.

But as was the case Tuesday night, after lawmakers heard nine hours of testimony on House Bill 1264, which would abolish capital punishment in Colorado outright, a vote was delayed.

After nine hours of testimony on H.B. 1264, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Denver, opted to delay the vote, ostensibly because it was late and lawmakers were too fried to make a decision on such an important bill.

But there are serious rumblings at the Capitol that the measure is in trouble, and that Democratic House leaders are concerned about moving the repeal effort forward — largely because the bill actually has a chance to pass and would push Democrats further out on an ideological limb than they are now having passed the gun control legislation.

Many lawmakers who oppose the repeal effort, which is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Claire Levy of Boulder and Jovan Melton of Aurora, have indicated that they’ll support Field’s counter-measure to refer the decision to voters only if the repeal bill is passed.

It’s unlikely that Fields’ bill will move forward if the repeal measure does not.

Voter pre-registration measure moves ahead

A proposal to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote by checking a box on their driver’s license application cleared its first hurdle in the Senate Wednesday afternoon.

House Bill 1135, which already passed the full House, cleared the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote.

The measure would allow teens to register at the DMV when they turn 16 so that their registration automatically activates when they turn 18.

Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler testified against the bill; his nemesis, Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, testified for it.

A handful of teenagers, many of them interns with the group, New Era Colorado, which focuses on expanding voter access, also testified in support of the bill.

“House Bill 1135 has the potential to create a new generation of voters,” said Nick Trevino.

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