LAWMAKERS PASS, KILL, POT MEASURE
Here's what happens when lawmakers don't pay attention: An amendment making it easier for Denver pot smokers to escape prosecution slips into a bill.
That's what happened Friday in the Colorado House.
Lawmakers later killed the amendment but the event did provide for some hilarity as well as pointed comments about what is perceived to be Denver's hypocrisy when its come to following state laws.
Denver voters last November invalidated a city law that made it illegal for adults to privately possess less than 1 ounce of marijuana. Denver police, calling the vote mostly symbolic, said they would still make arrests and charge offenders under state law.
Lawmakers on Friday were debating a bill about police officer certification when Rep. Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, amended it to keep authorities in cities where drug exemptions have been passed from prosecuting under state law.
"If their citizens say its legal, then the state ought to back off," he said.
His amendment passed, in part, because the bill was so routine lawmakers were paying attention to other matters.
The House later voted 59-6 to remove the provision.
Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, supported the amendment because she is frustrated that Denver went to court to overturn her 2004 measure outlawing cities from banning certain breeds of dogs. Denver resumed its pit bull ban after a judge upheld the city's home-rule authority to set its own animal-control policies.
She said Denver routinely snubs its nose at state measures by claiming it's a home-rule city.
"They want their cake and they want to eat it too," she said.
Rep. Richard Decker, R-Fountain, got a big laugh when he facetiously asked whether Coloradans would be able to toke up at restaurants, bars and casinos if the amendment passed and a separate smoking ban bill passed.
2006, Denver Publishing Co.