King’s stoned-driving bill faces iffy future

DENVER — Sen. Steve King’s idea to set a standard for being too stoned to drive is still trying to find life.

First, the measure he and House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, introduced in January, HB1114, died on a narrow 3-2 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee after clearing the House on an overwhelming 57-6 vote in early April.

Then, in an attempt to resurrect it, Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, had it tacked onto HB1317, one of the measures to regulate the recreational use of marijuana, as called for from the voter-approved Amendment 64 last fall.

But some legislative leaders fear the two measures might bog each other down.

“The speaker of the House (Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver) approached me and said his feeling was HB1317 probably dies because some people don’t like the DUI portion and some people don’t like other provisions,” Waller said. “His feeling was, if those two issues were separated, those proposals have a better shot at becoming law.”

Still, the real test to the DUI-marijuana bill is expected to be in the Senate, where Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, couldn’t say what might happen, particularly since there are now only three days left in this year’s session.

Morse, who supports the idea of creating a driving-while-stoned threshold, said he’s not sure whether he’ll send the new measure, HB1325, to the same Senate committee that killed it once already or a new committee.

He also suggested the marijuana bill might not need to have the DUI-pot provision stripped out just yet, just in case it doesn’t impact the final vote on either.

“In January, I’m pretty good at speculating what’s going to happen, but (not) in the last ... days of the session,” he said. “I do think that having it in HB1317 bogs down (the marijuana bill).”

To complicate matters, Sen. Cheri Jahn isn’t a fan of DUI-marijuana and wants the provision taken out of the pot regulation measure, which she is sponsoring in the Senate.

The problem is, the Wheat Ridge Democrat didn’t have the votes to take it off the measure Friday when it was heard in the Senate Finance Committee. But she hopes to strip it out when the Senate Appropriations Committee hears it Monday morning.

If that doesn’t happen, she’s left with trying before the full Senate, which is where King wanted the measure to go in the first place.

No one is quite sure if the votes exist in the Senate to get the idea passed, regardless of whether it is tethered to the marijuana bill or in a stand-alone measure.


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