Senate Democrats advance paid family leave bill during blizzard

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DENVER — Virtually everything was shut down across Denver on Wednesday as blizzard warnings took effect.

Gov. Jared Polis closed state government and the Colorado House postponed activities as well.

However, Democrats in the Colorado Senate pressed forward.

During the height of the storm, Democrats in the Senate held a vote the controversial oil and gas bill while also holding the first public hearing of the paid family leave bill.

Many were livid with the decision.

“It’s an embarrassment,” Republican Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs said.

“We have said if you want to have a voice, you've got to drive through all this stuff and show up at the Capitol. It’s just further politicians saying, 'We don’t want to hear the voice of the people,'" Hill added.

For a time, power went off at the Capitol building — impacting elevator use.

Democrats defended the decision to stay open.

“We’ve has some delays this week we need to keep moving forward,” Sen. Faith Winter (D-Westminster) said.

Winter is a main sponsor of the paid family leave bill and offered to submit testimony into the record for any Coloradoan who wanted to email it in.

Winter also stressed Wednesday's hearing will not be the last opportunity for the public to testify.

“It’s going to be in committee on the 19th as well. This isn’t the first and only and last chance,” Winter said.

Still, the crowd who attended the hearing was only a fraction of the number that would have attended under normal conditions. Many in the business community boycotted testimony.

The measure advanced on a party-line vote out of committee.

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