DENVER — Democrats have taken full advantage of their majority position in the Colorado Senate by rapidly bringing bills they favor to the top of the pile. Republicans reacted to the pace by having House Bill 1172 - an uncontroversial, bi-partisan, 2,000-page bill - read aloud on the Senate floor Monday, preventing any debates or votes from happening until the final word was read.
“What we’re trying to do is slow things down, so we can have conversations about these very, very important things for people in Colorado,” Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) said of the oil and gas, death penalty and red flag legislation. “Right now, this gives us opportunities to have discussions. Which, we don’t have that time on the floor when things are flying at a pace that we can’t keep up with.”
A statement from Colorado Senate Republicans on Monday morning said they needed to use every tool at their disposal to slow Democrats, and this was their best option.
"Per the Constitution of the State of Colorado, we don’t have the ability to walk out of the chamber and stall this process, we don’t have the ability to filibuster, but we do have the ability to request that a bill be heard at length. We will do so until we feel that [Senate President Leroy] Garcia has heard the voices of Coloradans that feel under siege," the statement said.
A nonpartisan staffer reading every word from a podium droned on for several hours. Then, Democrats came up with an IT solution in a nearly empty room.
“This was an option last year as well, discussed and known about, you can have a computer program read the bill,” explained Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) as the bill, which could have taken upwards of 60 hours for a human to read, was completed by computers in about six.
According to the Colorado Senate GOP, the computers spoke at a rate of 650 words per minute. Per the University of Missouri, people can understand 400 words per minute.
You can watch (and hear) the hearing at this link, if you're interested.
Sen. Scott said the move goes “against the spirit” of Senate rules and that the technology move shows that Democrats aren’t listening.
“They want to speed up the process. We want to slow down and have discussions. We’re about negotiating and having discussions, they’re not,” he said.
The reading tied up the Colorado Senate for the day, as no other official business happened during the reading. The computers wrapped just before 6 p.m.
“I served in the minority for four years. And in the minority, you do have less control over the calendar but you find out how to get your work done and make sure your voice is heard,” said Donovan.
More from Next with Kyle Clark: