House Bill 1092 would require lobbyists to undergo a criminal background check, register with the Secretary of State and pay a fee of no more than $300 for the right to show a photo i.d. instead of going through the metal detectors.
"There's never been an incident that I know of or anyone can think of where a member of the lobby has created an incident," said Rep. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs), who will present the bill to the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday afternoon. "If (the lobbyists) screw up, they not only lose their badge, they could lose their livelihood."
Liston said he's noticed specific times during the day when lobbyists enter the building, maybe for the second or third time, at the same time as school groups and/or senior groups. He believes his plan, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), strikes the appropriate balance between security and efficiency.
"They work here at the Capitol, day in and day out," he said. "Once I think people hear it and hear the argument for it, they go, 'This is fair and reasonable.' We're not handing out passes. They have to earn it."
However, not all lobbyists agree with the proposed change. Jenny Flanagan runs Colorado Common Cause, a group dedicated to reducing the influence of special interests in government. She said she's never minded waiting in line to get into the Capitol.
"I don't think it's right to create a fast lane for lobbyists at the State Capitol when average every day citizens are going to be standing in line," she said. "Surely we lobbyists have a role to play but the citizens have a powerful role as well and we shouldn't be creating special access."
Not all of the legislative leadership is on board with the proposal as well. Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) said since a man with a gun was shot and killed at the Capitol trying to get to the governor, it was important to increase security inside the building rather than decreasing it. He said it's important to keep open access to "The People's Building," but the optics of HB 1092 don't represent what he wants to accomplish this year in the legislature.
"It looks like we're favoring special interests. We're not," said Shaffer. "We're focused on creating jobs and solving difficult problems. That bill I suspect will die in the process fairly quickly."
The House State Affairs Committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 112 of the Capitol which is in the basement of the building.
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