DENVER — Less than one week into the session, relations between Republicans and Democrats in the state senate broke down Tuesday morning with tempers running high over a GOP-sponsored bill dealing with gun laws that’s yet to be introduced.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, lashed out at Senate President Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, accusing Democrats of purposefully delaying the introduction of legislation aiming to overturn the law passed last year expanding background checks to private gun sales and transfers.
Republicans expected the legislation, which would repeal the requirement that the state perform background checks on guns sold or transferred between two individuals, to have been introduced by the end of the day Monday.
“This is inexcusable,” Cadman told reporters following a skirmish on the senate floor. “In light of her opening day remarks, this is pure hypocrisy.”
Cadman was incensed that two Democratic lawmakers didn’t ask for his signature, or give him a warning, when moving to delay the bill, which he believed needed to be introduced Monday.
“There is no provision in the rules for waving the deadline once it’s been met,” Cadman said. “[The bill sponsor] met the deadline, and she ignored it.”
Following Cadman’s press conference, Carroll told reporters that the legislation would be introduced by 1 p.m. Tuesday, which Democrats believed to be the deadline all along.
As of 1 p.m., the bill had been handed over to the Secretary of the Senate and will be officially introduced and assigned to a committee on Wednesday, according to Senate Democrats.
“Every bill’s going to get a full hearing, everyone’s going to get a chance to testify; we’ve done everything within the rules,” said Carroll, who told reporters she was surprised by Cadman’s “rant”.
According to Carroll, Democrats decided to wait to introduce the bill as a courtesy to the sponsor, knowing that legislation dealing with guns would draw a large crowd to the Capitol.
“We learned from last session that you need to make sure there’s enough time for everybody to testify. On gun bills in particular, we know it basically creates a packed house,” Carroll said. “We extended the deadline to make sure that on high testimony bills we’ll be able to keep our commitment so that everybody who shows up to testify can do so.”
Apparently, Cadman was unaware of that decision and believed that Democrats were thinking about preventing the legislation, which was submitted on the first day of the session last Wednesday, from ever being introduced.
And he accused Carroll, whose nomination as senate president he seconded last week, of violating senate rules.
“She is required, under our rules, to read that bill across the desk, and every minute of her not doing this is another minute of her violating the rules she swore to uphold when we elected her,” Cadman said, even going as far as to suggest that Carroll’s actions merited a recall effort against her.
“It ought to be an outrage. Maybe they’ll start a recall. Because, frankly, if you’re willing to ignore the rules, you shouldn’t be enforcing them.”
The legislation in question is being sponsored by Sen. George Rivera, R-Pueblo, who was elected last September as a successor to former Sen. Angela Giron, one of two Democrats ousted in recalls resulting from their support of the tougher gun laws.
Carroll, who is in her first week as senate president after serving as majority leader last year under former Senate President John Morse, the other lawmaker recalled in September, said she’s disappointed in Cadman’s reaction but remains committed to working with him.
“To be honest, if I were him, I would be a little embarrassed at going off like this when we are 100 percent in compliance with the rules,” she said. “He’s quick to assume that strange things might happen when no violation has occurred.”
When asked whether she’d term Cadman’s reaction Tuesday “political theater”, Carroll told reporters: “I’m hard-pressed to call it anything else.”