Spurred by DC vote, Salazar weighs long-bill amendment to safeguard Web privacy in Colorado

Author: John Tomasic - March 31, 2017 - Updated: March 31, 2017

Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, saw his amendment to pay for more oil and gas operations inspectors overturned during budget debate on March 31. (Photo by Ramsey Scott/The Colorado Statesman)
Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, during the 2016 budget debate. (Photo by Ramsey Scott/The Colorado Statesman)

State Rep. Joe Salazar, a Democrat from Thornton, has taken the lead in Colorado in rolling out legislation meant to defend state residents against possible Trump-era federal government overreach.

On Thursday at his Facebook page, Salazar said he might run an amendment to the state budget “long bill” next week in response to the bill passed on Capitol Hill this week that would allow internet service providers to sell personal user data without written consent.

Asked in a text message Friday morning whether he was serious about proposing the amendment, Salazar responded simply, “You bet!”

Republicans in Congress, including Colorado caucus members Sen. Cory Gardner and Reps. Scott Tipton, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn, voted to rescind a Federal Communications Commission rule passed in the fall barring telecommunication companies from selling personal user data, including browser search histories. President Trump has indicated he plans to sign the bill into law. Colorado Republican Mike Coffman voted against the bill.

But public outrage has grown with each passing day as news of the Capitol Hill vote in support of the bill has circulated. Activist group ProgressNow Colorado has said it plans to buy up the web-browsing histories of the Colorado Republicans who voted in support of the proposal and serve them up to the public.

At his Facebook page, Salazar was riffing off news from the Minnesota Legislature that on Wednesday during debate on a jobs bill, Democratic (or Farm Labor Party) Sen. Ron Latz introduced an amendment that would safeguard internet user data in Minnesota. A key Republican vote in support of the amendment sent it for consideration to the full Senate, where it received overwhelming support and advanced to the state’s lower chamber for consideration.

As the Pioneer Press’s reports:

Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, offered the amendment onto the Senate’s economic development budget bill, saying it was urgently needed to protect Minnesotans’ privacy after the congressional vote.

Latz’s amendment was challenged under Senate rules on the grounds that it would impose a cost on a state agency and thus needed to go through committee rather than be added on the floor. Such challenges are usually routine, party-line affairs. But Republicans have just a one-vote majority in the Senate, and nothing is routine when any lawmaker has the potential to swing a vote.

Republican Sen. Warren Limmer, of Maple Grove, broke with his party to overturn the Senate president’s ruling and allow the internet privacy amendment to continue by a single vote.

“We should be outraged at the invasion that’s being allowed on our most intimate means of communication,” said Limmer, a longstanding privacy advocate. “This is an amendment that so urgently needs to be addressed.”

Once the amendment cleared this procedural hurdle, it was overwhelmingly added to the bill on a 66-1 vote. The lone critic, Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, said Latz’s amendment needed more study and review before being adopted.

The Colorado budget debate, already sure to twist a hundred ways in the House, may soon grow more complicated.

John Tomasic

John Tomasic

John Tomasic is a senior political reporter for The Colorado Statesman covering the Colorado Legislature.

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