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Bill to prevent federal violations of Colorado constitutional rights dies

Effort undermined by amendments changing intent of measure

DENVER – A measure to protect Coloradans from federal overreach was unexpectedly killed Monday at the request of the bill sponsor.

House Bill 1331, which would prohibit state agencies from assisting federal entities who are prosecuting Coloradans for acts or behaviors protected by the state constitution, was killed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-0 vote after a series of amendments were adopted that changed the intent of the bill.

The bill was passed out of the House on a 60-5 vote, and touted as an attempt to ensure Coloradans could exercise their rights to free speech, freedom of religion and right to judicial due process. But it also was connected to access to retail marijuana, which is allowed under the Colorado constitution but not under federal law.

The original scope of the bill extended only to Coloradans, but it was expanded to any individual legally residing or visiting the state.

That meant that “green” tourists who came to Colorado to purchase marijuana would receive the same level of protection as lifetime Coloradans.

Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, said he opposed that amendment, but it was another that leveled a felony on law enforcement officials who violated the restriction that ultimately caused him to pull the plug on the bill.

“It was very clear that the chair wanted to poison pill this, and when he’s effective on that I can’t let the bill go through like that,” Neville said.

Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, proposed the amendment based on what he saw as a serious violation of individual civil rights if law enforcement violated the bill.

“I regard the violation of my civil rights to be pretty serious thing, and I’ve seen some pretty ones that people have skated on over the years,” Gardner said.


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