Capitol Bill Watch: 564 Total – up from 537 last edition. House: 360 – Senate 204 Signed into law: 33 Postponed Indefinitely (Killed): 98

Last week, this column covered some stealth bills. Stealth bills can fly under the radar by not revealing themselves until the last moment or, they can hide in plain sight.

Those that hide in plain sight by crafty (I will not call them deceptive) bill titles, simply mask their intent behind non-descript verbiage. For example, who would have thought an innocent bill like HB 20-1163 (Management of Single-use Products) would actually be a plastics ban?

The specific bill language prohibits stores and retail food establishments, after 7/1/21, from providing single-use plastic bags, single-use plastic stirrers, single-use plastic straws and expanded polystyrene food service products (collectively “single-use products”) to customers at the point of sale.

A store or retail food business after 7/1/21 may furnish recyclable paper bags at a charge of at least 10 cents per customer. Why not just call the bill an anti-plastics bill that will not let you use plastic, but charge you 10 cents for every bag you are forced to use?

Simpler, but not as marketable… All is not lost -- you may not have plastic at the restaurant, but you can now dine with your dog on the patio (SB 20-078). If you like plastic or do not like patio dining around dogs…you are now out of luck on both counts.

Never forget, the legislative process involves people – and people can say and do the darndest things. One of the most interesting “turnarounds” to have happened in my 7-plus years under the Golden Dome occurred last Monday.

HB 20-1294 (Replace Illegal Alien with Undocumented Immigrant) passed third reading on a vote of 43 - 21. Only two R’s voted for the bill – the one of note was Rep. Holtorf (R-HD 64). Why was Rep. Holtorf’s affirmative vote notable? Well, here is the “rest of the story”.

During second reading debate on the House floor, Rep. Holtorf spoke against the bill several times. During one 7-minute speech, he used the phrase “criminal aliens” at least 9 times. The Chair (Rep. Exum – D, Colo. Springs) asked, “Please do not refer to people as illegal aliens, you can refer to them as immigrants or non-citizens.”

“Mr. Chairman,” Holtorf fired back, “the word I said was criminal aliens. If you want to gavel me down on criminal aliens then I will…” Exum emphatically slammed the gavel -- the room went silent. Strangely, Holtorf voted in favor of the bill on 3rd reading… 

I am sure many of you can recall the soundtrack from the movie Jaws that would always play immediately prior to the great white shark’s appearance. Well, that soundtrack could have been playing in the background for several weeks in the minds of 2nd Amendment supporters here at the Capitol.

Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before more gun control legislation showed up on the Democrat agenda. The Great White struck this past week – 2 new gun control bills (HB 20-1355 - Measures to Secure Firearms and HB 20-1356 – Lost or Stolen Firearms) floated to the surface.

The two recently introduced bills are just another example of laws targeting (pun intended) law-abiding citizens. Responsible firearm owners securely store their weapons already – with one exception.

Most weapons available for home defense are not secured under lock and key. It is highly unlikely you could convince a home intruder to wait patiently while you retrieve your weapon from under lock and key. Not to mention the fact enforcement of this law would require entering the home to check compliance – who would ever object to that?

By the same token, why do we need a law requiring a responsible firearm owner to report a lost or stolen weapon? If I lose or have a weapon stolen, you can bet I will report it – I would want it back!

There is no mention in either bill as to how the legislation would catch criminals rather than create them. Nor is there any mention of what to do with the person who might find a lost weapon and not report it or, heaven forbid, how to better prosecute a criminal who actually stole the weapon! And so, the debate of gun control vs. firearm safety continues…

If you hear the famous “duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun…” in the near future, not to worry. Unless, of course, you are swimming in the deep water we call the legislative process. Feel free to call my office in the Capitol at 303-866-2747 or send me an e-mail: wilsonforhd60@gmail.com or james.wilson.house@state.co.us 

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