#Coleg notebook: Can we move and eat while we drink, now, please?

Roaming while sipping, sipping while roaming

If you have been to the Source in Denver, you will have noted the awkward chalk line scrawled around the Crooked Stave brewery. If you’re drinking or holding a drink, that’s your boundary line and you dare not stray beyond it to take a phone call or to ask that attractive person on the other side for their number. Current liquor licensing says that, although you’re still standing under the industrial roof of that multi-business hipster paradise, your fancy sour beer traps you behind the chalk. Same is true in Colorado Springs, at the too-cool-to-still-be-a-school Ivywild project, where patrons are regularly marooned in either the chic cocktail joint or in the Bristol Brewery. The hallway separating the two places does not have a liquor license, so it’s a no-go zone for people with drinks.

HB 1192, sponsored by Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, and Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, would allow municipalities to license entire “entertainment districts” for liquor. Hallway beer for everyone!

In other booze news, Colorado distilleries, unlike breweries and wineries, are not allowed to serve food (which seems kind of silly and dangerous). Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, doesn’t think that’s acceptable. He has proposed HB 1204 in order to address the “no food while drinking Colorado-made spirits where they are being made” unacceptable inconvenience.

“Colorado is a world-class state and this bill will allow our distilleries to offer world-class food and drink options to their customers,” Pabon wrote in a release celebrating the bill’s unanimous passage out of the House business affairs committee Thursday.

To pay card or not to pay card? 

The Senate had interesting debate about Centennial Republican Sen. David Balmer’s SB 101 today — the measure would move private Colorado businesses onto a de facto “pay card” system, requiring that employees opt-in to direct deposit or paper check.

Pay cards are a lot like debit cards/ those gift cards that look like credit cards. The going argument is that having the card loaded with your wages each pay period is a lot easier than picking up a check and potentially cheaper, for employees without a bank account, than paying to cash that check.

Potentially cheaper that is, until the pay card usage fees come into play. How much are those fees? It would depend on your employer, or rather the pay card company they contract with. The bill does require that employers let you know what those fees will be and that they choose a pay card company that won’t charge a monthly “maintenance fee.” After an amendment, the measure also guarantees employees two fee-free withdrawals/ expenditures off the card per pay period.

The thing that’s sort of weird about this bill is that it’s very similar to one Visa, which operates a pay card company, proposed at an ALEC conference back in 2010. That leads some to question whether rolling Colorado employers over to a de facto pay card system isn’t sort of a credit card company gimme. On the other hand, if you’ve ever had to drop by work on your day off to pick up a paycheck, this bill sounds like a pretty good deal.

The measure got initial approval in the Senate on Friday and will likely pass to the House, where it has a bi-partisan co-sponsor in Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver. All of which is to say, more to come on this.

“You ban it, you buy it” approved by Senate 

The Senate gave initial approval to SB 93 today. The measure, known on Twitter as “you ban it, you buy it,” requires taxpayers to reimburse mineral owners for lost revenue/ value due to local regulations on oil and gas development.

Sponsor Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, argued that the policy would ensure fairness for folks who’ve had more than 40 percent of their property value “taken” by the government via regulation.

Opponents of the measure like Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, called it a “a step too far and a step too soon,” arguing that the legislature should hold off on fracking-related policy until the Governor’s oil and gas task force comes forward with recommendations next week.

Cyberbully bill heads to Senate

The debate about the line between harassment and free speech continued on the House floor today as lawmakers struggled with HB 1072, a bill that would update and expand existing anti-harassment law to keep up with the digital era, specifically social media. The measure has been named “Kiana’s Law” after a Colorado high school student who attempted suicide after being subjected to aggressive online bullying.

“Basically this bill updates our harassment codes by adding harassment through interactive electronic means. I’d like to say this is breakthrough, cutting-edge legislation, but it’s not. Colorado is not leading on this issue,” said sponsor Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, before reading off the 13 other states which have already adopted similar legislation. “If not now, when?”

Several Republicans opposed the bill, not because of its general intent to curb cyber bullying, but out of fear that it would chill free speech.

“Cyber bullying is serious and one of the tools we need to challenge it is, in fact, a criminal prosecution,” said Rep. Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs.

She pointed to legal complications this year with a similar statute in New York, where the courts decided that the provisions against online harassment had become too broad. Like others in her caucus, Carver said she supported the bill’s intent but couldn’t vote for the measure unless it applied only to “direct” harassment against minors.

“Are we going to start prosecuting rabid fans because they don’t like the play of a certain player?” asked Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland. “We can see how this could go way beyond the sponsor’s intent, and that’s the rub for a lot of the folks opposing this bill — the directly or indirectly language– not the underlying move to add electronic media.”

Ultimately DelGrosso joined the handful of Republicans voting yes on the measure even without the narrowing amendments. The bill passed on a bipartisan 43-22 vote and is now headed to the Senate where the debate, no doubt, will continue.

The Source, via Facebook.