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Colorado lawmakers spent all night at Capitol amid Republican filibuster

Both House Democrats and Republicans said the lack of sleep over bills on guns and overdose prevention centers was worth it.

DENVER — Coffee and Redbull were popular beverages at the state Capitol on Friday morning after a long night when lawmakers didn't get any sleep.

Republicans began a filibuster of a House Bill 1219 – a controversial bill on a three-day waiting period for purchasing firearms – about 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The bill passed on a second reading about 13 hours later, at 2:30 a.m. Friday.

That's when debate began on another bill – House Bill 1202, which would allow municipalities to create overdose prevention centers, places where people addicted to drugs could take them with supervision.

That bill passed a second reading right around the time people would normally arrive at work, with two amendments added from Republicans.

Because state law requires an intervening midnight between the second reading debate and the final vote, the first chance for final passage on the bills will be on Saturday.

"It's just it's fuel, you know, when you get to do this good work, when you get to do the work for the people of Colorado," said Democratic Rep. Lorena Garcia, who represents District 35 in Adams and Jefferson counties.

Garcia co-sponsored the bill that would create at least a three-day waiting period from the moment someone buys a gun to when it's delivered.

"At some point in the middle of the night, I think any of us sitting there might think, 'I wish we could just vote,' " she said. "But we have such a profound respect for the oaths that we took, we have such a profound commitment to the process of democracy, that we will be there as long as it takes."

Republicans oppose the gun waiting period bill but don't have the power stop it. They can, however, filibuster and fight for amendments, which is what the House debates were spent doing.

"We know that we're against the super majority, but we still want to have our voices heard, and that's what last night was about," said Republican Rep. Anthony Hartsook, who represents District 44 in Douglas County.

Republicans fought for numerous amendments on the gun bill and got one of them through: Before the bill goes into effect, the public will have a chance to petition to get it on the ballot.

The early morning hours were not over after the gun bill, though. 

Around 3 a.m., legislators began debating House Bill 1202, the overdose prevention centers bill, which passed with the same petition amendment as the gun bill. Another Republican amendment requires municipalities to have a public hearing before voting to open a site.

"We all sacrificed a night of sleep for these measures," Garcia said. "But it was so worth it because the lives that we're going to save when these pass and become law – one night of sleep, it's nothing."

Lawmakers will be back at the Capitol over the weekend. 

"We do anticipate tomorrow will be  a long day," Hartsook said. "But again, this is what the people sent us here to do. It's our job to have these debates, have these discussions."

There is a wrinkle to everyone coming back on a Saturday because Republicans are electing a new party chair in Loveland. They will be able to send a proxy to vote on their behalf.

More 9NEWS stories on the state legislature:


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