Colorado abortion bill hearings wrap up after midnight

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Associated Press file

DENVER – A marathon hearing by the Colorado House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on abortion bills concluded in the opening minutes of Friday morning.

And after hours of impassioned debate, all three bills died.

House Bill 1085 would have required registration of abortion clinics with the Colorado attorney general, HB 1086 would have required doctors to provide information on chemical abortion reversal and HB 1108 would have banned abortions in most cases. They all died on 6-5 party line votes as Democrats made good on opening-day promises to not tolerate attacks on women or their reproductive rights.

Testimony for the last of the bills, HB 1108, started after 9:30 p.m. Thursday, with final votes being cast after midnight.

In addition to the early morning wrap-up in the House, 35 bills were scheduled for third reading and final votes and 11 for second reading between the two chambers on Friday.

Included in the bills receiving a third reading were:

Senate Bill 59, which would change the statute regarding the use of turn signals in roundabouts. Colorado law requires that turn signals be used at least 100 feet in advance of changes of lanes or direction. The bill would have removed the requirement in a roundabout, but it died on a 16-18 vote on the Senate floor.SB 7, which would repeal the prohibition on high-capacity gun magazines, was passed by the Senate on a 21-13 vote. Three Democrats sided with Republicans in favor of the repeal.Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, said the repeal rectifies a wrong done to innocent Coloradans.

“We are tired of being demonized for being law-abiding citizens,” Marble said.

HB 1097, an exact copy of SB 7, was heard in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Wednesday, where it died on a 6-3 vote along with a pair of other Second Amendment bills.SB 113, which would place a cap on the employer contributions to the Public Employees’ Retirement Association, or PERA, passed second reading in the Senate, despite opposition from Democrats, who contend that it doesn’t change current employer contributions but rather removes options for increasing the stability of PERA.“Before this bill, the current cap is exactly what it would be under this bill, this bill does not change that,” said Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood. The process for changing the employer cap would also be the same as it is under current statute.

Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, said that was correct, the bill does not change the process but rather sends a message to PERA.

“It puts a stake in the ground and says ‘we are not going to continue funding the problems within PERA on the backs of our school districts,’” Hill said. “It takes away from the opportunity for them to get raises, legitimate raises for the work that they’re doing.”

SB 55, which would prohibit Colorado employers from forcing employees to participate in unions, passed after a second reading in the Senate and a lengthy debate.Democrats argued for the importance of not mandating employers’ policies and against leveling criminal charges against businesses that have come to terms with their employees about union participation, while Republicans said the bill would protect employee rights.

“The issue here is an employer’s ability to compel an individual to pay to a third party,” said Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton.

SB 55 will receive third reading and final passage next week before being sent to the House.

lperkins@durangoherald.com