Both versions of Wright’s terrorism bill defeated in House
DENVER — Rep. Jared Wright’s bill to bar law enforcement from cooperating with federal agents in terrorist investigations died a slow death on the House floor Thursday.
That happened primarily because of an error the Fruita Republican admitted to making on his own bill, which would have barred law enforcement in Colorado from assisting federal agents using a federal law to detain certain terrorism suspects without following normal due process arrest and detention procedures.
Wright had an amendment tacked onto the bill when it was heard in the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee last month to exempt the Colorado National Guard from its provisions. Wright said he later realized the amendment was badly worded and didn’t do what he had intended.
Trouble is, there were a number of Democrats that liked the amendment and wouldn’t support the bill without it, while a number of Republicans wouldn’t back the bill with it.
“I don’t feel this bill is strong enough as amended,” Wright said on the floor of the House while trying to strip out that amendment. “Organizations from the far right corner to the far left corner support this bill in its original form. In fact they support an even stronger form of this legislation.”
Supporters argued that the bill was a matter of civil liberties, while opponents said it was a question of federal law that the state could do little to impact. In the end, though, the bill failed on two separate votes, one to take out the amendment and the other to leave it in.
Afterwards, House Republicans tried to blame Democrats for the bill’s demise, but it was members from both parties who killed it.
Following a preliminary vote that left HB1045 all but dead, an effort by Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, to revive the bill with the Guard amendment failed on a 19-46 vote, with only Democrats voting for it.
Moments later, another effort to bring life back to the bill without the amendment failed on a 32-33 vote, with five Democrats joining all but one Republican in support.
Wright said he planned to try again next year with “a more perfected bill.”