King blames ‘liberalism’ for death of DUI felony bill
DENVER — Even though it passed four committees and overwhelmingly cleared the Colorado House, a Senate committee killed a bill Tuesday that would have made it a felony for getting three or more DUIs.
On a party-line vote on the second-to-last day of the 2014 legislative session, Democrats in the Senate Appropriations Committee killed HB1036 despite protestations from its sponsor, Sen. Steve King, that there was no cost, at least for the first year.
The Grand Junction Republican said “liberalism” was to blame, particularly from such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposed the measure.
“You’ve got the ACLU coming in testifying against it, and you’ve got members of the Legislature who are very in tune with the ACLU,” King said. “This is where to find true liberalism. There is nothing you can do to get in trouble. Nope, I’m sorry. Thirty DUIs? You’ve got to get treatment. Let’s not put them in prison.”
Democrats said the cost to the state over the long haul was too great.
According to a fiscal analysis of the measure, starting in the 2015 fiscal year, it would have cost the state about $1.7 million and required the hiring of nearly 20 new state workers in several state agencies, such as the Judicial Department, the Office of the Public Defender and the Colorado Department of Corrections.
That annual cost would have increased to nearly $12 million as more workers are hired and more DUI offenders are sent to prison.
Despite those costs, the House approved the bill last month on a 56-6 vote. That was after it cleared two committees by unanimous votes.
When it reached the Senate, it was assigned to three committees. The first two narrowly approved it, only for it to die by the third panel. It is unusual for bills to be triple-assigned to committees.
King said he believed he had the votes to get it passed by the full Senate, if only it had made it that far.