Hot Sheet

Updated: What just happened? Oil and gas regulatory bill gets out of the House without floor debate

Author: Joey Bunch - February 10, 2018 - Updated: February 12, 2018

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oil and gas billRep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, “caught the Republicans sleeping” and made quick work of a floor debate on an oil-and-gas regulation bill. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Channel via screen grab)

House Republican Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock provided a statement Monday morning.

“All this misleading bill is designed to do is shut down the oil and gas industry in Colorado, and Republicans were not going to give the bill sponsor the satisfaction of grandstanding on this terrible policy.”

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Maybe Rep. Joe Salazar slid a fastball past House Republicans this week, or maybe they didn’t want to expend energy on a bill their Senate counterparts in the majority will inevitably squash. Either way,  House Bill 1071 to give local governments more regulatory say on oil and gas operations passed the Colorado House Friday.

The vote was 34-30, as Republicans picked up one Democrat, Rep. Dan Pabon of Denver, a pro-business moderate.

When the bill came up for a debate on Thursday, Salazar took all of four seconds.

“This is a technical change, I ask for a yes vote,” said the Democrat from Thornton, a man known for passionate oratory for his beliefs. Then he walked away from the podium.

A voice vote on the bill itself was called, and the Democratic majority shouted louder, presumably, before Republicans could mount any defense.

“I want to thank my friends on the other side of the aisle for recognizing the importance of protecting people and the environment by letting HB 1071 pass Second Reading without debate,” Salazar said to Colorado Politics via text message Friday night to help explain how such a hot bill passed in such a cool manner.

But, on a final, recorded vote Friday, there wasn’t any debate from Republicans, either.

Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, a trade group, took to Twitter to express his disappointment that the bill got out of the House.

“This bill would upset the important balance already struck in CO and reduce individual property rights protected by our state’s Constitution,” he said. “Plus, the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case this bill is based on. Preempting that is bad policymaking.”

A week earlier the bill underwent hours of testimony before passing the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on a 7-6 party-line vote.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.