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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 22, 201810min2157

In the wake of a Columbine-style school shooting in Florida last week, Colorado lawmakers again weighed a trio of bills aimed at loosening up the state's gun laws. All three failed on a partisan vote, as they do each year, including one that would have allowed school staff to carry firearms with an existing concealed carry permit.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 11, 20183min1698

Who knew this was a law already? Coloradans are guaranteed by law two hours on Election Day to vote, almost enough time for a round of golf if you don’t have any friends.

But that doesn’t really make sense anymore, since the legislature switched Colorado to mail-ballot elections in 2013; you stand in line only if you want to go vote in person.

Seeing that, Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, and Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, are trying to make the same amount of time make sense to use the allocation available whenever polling centers are open in the 8 to 15 days before the election. The idea is to give people time to register, vote, get a replacement ballot, enjoy a hot dog … whatever they need to do to participate in democracy.

Friday House Bill 1033 passed the lower chamber on a voice vote, as Democrat-sponsored bills tend to do with a Democratic majority. But Listen for yourself at the 44:03 mark by clicking here. (Does Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, have partisan ears?) The bill still must pass a recorded vote in the House, scheduled for Monday, to make it to the Republican-led Senate.

“The intent here is to make it easier for voters, election administrators and the business community,” Weissman told the chamber before the  voice vote.

The two-hour window allows enough time to register

He noted he had support from the Denver and Aurora chambers and no one spoke against the bill in committee (where it passed 5-4, with all the Republicans in opposition, joined by Democrat Adrienne Benavidez of Commerce City).

Republican Reps. Tim Leonard of Evergreen, Stephen Humphrey of Severance and Dave Williams of Colorado Springs said Friday that the bill is an unnecessary mandate on businesses and would have little impact on voter participation.

“The impact of this bill on voting would be extremely negligible, but the impact of another mandate on employers to be able to accommodate this quest for more voting turnout is significant,” Leonard said.

Added Humphrey: “This is not necessary and most employers are going ahead and doing this anyway.”

Fore!


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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 8, 20184min426

Colorado lawmakers began laying the bricks of a firewall for consumers who might be victims of identity theft as a result of such breaches as the Equifax hack last year. They started with children and at-risk adults.

Most children don’t have credit histories, and often their clean credit is used in “family fraud,” by someone who knows the child or at-risk adult

The State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted 7-2 to pass House Bill 1233, sponsored by House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Republican Rep. Polly Lawrence.

“Securing personal information is a growing priority for adults,” parent Jessica Duke told the committee. “And it should be for children, too.”

Reps. Tim Leonard, R-Evergreen, and Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, voted against the bill “for today,” because they want to be sure the legislation doesn’t create a credit report for a child simply by a parent asking the credit reporting agency if one exists.

The bill appears broadly supported, however.

The legislative effort this session is driven by the last year’s Equifax data breach. Hackers gained access to 145 million Americans’ Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses, a trove for identity thieves to create phony credit accounts. At least four bills are expected this session, in response.

The Duran-Lawrence bill would allow parents or guardians to freeze, at no charge, credit reports opened in the name of a child 16 and younger or an at-risk adult.  Children’s Social Security numbers can be stolen from schools, doctor’s offices or even cell phone accounts.

“This bill gives parents a lock and a key for their children and dependants’ credit,” said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado consumer advocacy group CoPIRG. “Most importantly that lock and key are free of charge. Parents and guardians should not have to pay to protect their children and dependants from problems they didn’t create.”

Equifax already is waiving any fees to place a credit freeze on its credit reports until June 30.

Rich Jones of the Denver-based Bell Policy Center was pleased to see the bill includes older Coloradans, who have a designated financial guardian.

“We think given the aging of our population here in Colorado, a growing number of people are going to need some of that protection,” Jones said.

Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, sought to give consumers more protection over their data by requiring consent. He cited the power and, clearly, the vulnerability of bureaus such as Equifax. House Bill 1063 wasn’t voted on Wednesday, as Williams sought more time to amend it.

A half-dozen opponents said it was too broadly written and would create unintended consequences, including making it harder to do employee background checks and impeding earnest consumers’ ability to get credit.

“Our concern is the consumers who have the most to hide will hide the most,” Eric Ellman of the Consumer Data Industry Association told the committee.