DENVER — Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley has put the skids on the hurry-up pace of Senate Bill 19-181 in the General Assembly.
SB 181 would make sweeping and drastic changes to oil and gas drilling in Colorado, a move that will send many counties into almost immediate recession, Cooke said, including Weld which he represents.
Cooke, today asked that his bill, HB 19-1172 — a 2,023 page, non-controversial “clean-up” bill that was up for second reading — be read in its entirety. It is estimated it will take between 40 and 60 hours to complete the reading, which would delay debate on SB 181, scheduled for later in the day.
The request came at about 10:30 a.m., and by 12:30 p.m. the reading was just 83 pages in and on its second reading clerk.
Cooke said because the Colorado Constitution does not allow for filibustering, this was the only tool the minority had to slow down the process, and after leadership made it clear last week they were not going to voluntarily slow down the process, he had to act.
Under the rules of the Senate, any Senator can ask for a bill to be read in full and nothing can continue until its voted on.
“The Constitution says we can do this,” Cooke said. “We went to leadership last week and asked them to slow down, why rush it? We asked to let us have more debate. Basically they said, ‘because we can, get over it.’ ”
Cooke said the very next day, Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Arapahoe went to leadership and asked to slow down a different bill, and they agreed.
“They refused to work with us,” Cooke said. “They see us as irrelevant. They won’t talk about changes. They won’t listen to the industry. The only way to slow it down was this.”
Cooke said they are checking with Legislative Legal Services to see if they can stop the reading at midnight and pick back up in the morning, or if they must continue through the night. In the meantime, all other business of the Senate is on pause.
If they continue non-stop it will be at least Wednesday before they finish, possibly Thursday. If they stop at midnight it could be a week or longer before business resumes.
Cooke said disgruntled Democrats were quick to thank him for the possibility they may have to work on Saturday or Sunday.
“I don’t mind being here Saturday or Sunday,” Cooke said. “I get paid to be here until May 3. If I have to be here Saturday and Sunday, so be it.”