A new bill making its way through the Colorado State Senate would allow any member of the public who passes a background check and pays a fee to skip security lines at the capitol.
“[The bill] sets up a capitol ID card so that anybody that wants to come down here can pay $250, get the ID card,” explained Sen. John Cooke, a Republican representing part of Weld County.
Cooke is one of three Republicans backing the bill. Representatives Kevin Van Winkle and Dave Williams are sponsoring the bill in the House.
Sen. Cooke, the former Weld County sheriff, said anyone applying for the capitol ID card would have to take a fingerprint background check. If approved for the ID card, members of the public could bypass metal detectors and security lines that can back up at the capitol.
“Security sometimes backs up because we have hundreds of young school kids that all go through the security checkpoint,” Sen. Cooke said.
Colorado State Patrol manages security at the capitol. Sen. Cooke said he thinks his bill would help alleviate some of their work and make it easier for frequent capitol visitors to pass through.
“The more access we give to the public the better,” Cooke said. “This is the people’s house and I don’t think there should be all that many barriers.”
The metal detectors at the capitol were put in place after a 2007 attempt on the life of Governor Bill Ritter. A gunman entered the capitol proclaiming himself the emperor of Colorado.
“The man never made it to the governor and he was shot by the state patrol,” Sen. Cooke recalled. “The governor’s protection team did its job.”
Sen. Cooke said he doesn’t expect his bill to create a security threat.
“Otherwise, I wouldn’t be running it,” he said.
The senator is hopeful the bill will lead to a little less congestion at the capitol. The proposal heads to the Senate Finance Committee next Tuesday afternoon.