Powdered alcohol paying for the sins of pot
Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave hesitant bipartisan support to HB 1031, a bill that once proposed to ban powdered alcohol but that now only proposes to make it temporarily illegal.
“Other states have just out and out banned it. What we’re doing is saying that we’re putting a temporary hold on it and at the same time working on regulation,” said sponsor Sen. Nancy Todd, D- Aurora, echoing the better-safe-than-sorry edict that has served Colorado in its efforts to regulate recreational cannabis.
Opponents of the powdered alcohol time-out bill said it seemed a little early to be legislating a product that’s not yet on the market.
— sandra fish (@fishnette) February 24, 2015
“This seems a little knee-jerk,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, who voted against the measure. “If it’s legal to store alcohol in a personal flask, it seems to me it should be legal to store alcohol in granulated forms as well.”
“Prohibition has never really worked too well,” agreed Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, who also voted against the bill.
The remaining two Democrats and a Republican on the committee gave the measure “reluctant OKs,” but promised further questions and “bipartisan shenanigans” on the floor.
State of frack
While the governor’s oil and gas task force met today to finalize its recommendations, the state legislature was in a state of frack.
On the Senate side, lawmakers passed SB 93, colloquially known as the “you ban it, you buy it,” bill, on a party-line vote. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, would require local governments to reimburse mineral owners for potential losses that result from stricter local controls over oil and gas development.
House Speaker Dicky Lee Hullinghorst was candid about the bill’s prospects in her chamber.
“Well that’s patently unconstitutional. The Fifth Amendment rights on takings don’t require legislation, they require a court action,” she said, adding that she believes mineral rights that diminish in value due to local regulations don’t rise to the level of governmental taking protected by the Fifth Amendment anyhow.
“This is such a draconian response to the issue [of local control] and doesn’t solve the problem,” she concluded.
Hullinghorst said she hopes to see workable compromises on the great local control debate in the recommendations the task force will present this week. She’s particularly interested in provisions that would allow local governments to adopt stricter regulations than current state regulations and that re-define the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as a regulatory body instead of one designed to foster development.
“If you put some of those things together in a package, I do think it does address local control pretty well,” said Hullinghorst. “It might not go as far as some people would like, but it would be an adequate start. If they don’t do some basic things like that on local government… then I think it’s going to be difficult.”
The recommendations are expected to come out before the end of the week.
On kids in cuffs
As a part of a multi-session effort to reform the juvenile justice system, the House debated the practice of handcuffing youth who appear in juvenile court.
“For the first time, we have children as young as ten showing up before a judge in shackles with a presumption of guilt hanging over their head in a court that is set up to rehabilitate them and not shame them,” said Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, advocating for her HB 1091. Her bill would require all judicial districts to define and narrow their protocol for shackling, with the goal of curbing its frequency.
Bill opponents argued that each courtroom and each court case was too different for one district-wide policy to be effective, a fear that lingered despite provisions in the bill that would allow charges to be a factor in the shackling protocol. Others simply argued that far from a presumption of guilt, the practice was an effective deterrent for juveniles at risk continuing criminal behavior into adulthood.
“I’ve seen and faced my own son in shackles in the courtroom. I can tell you that it was one of the most difficult things I ever dealt with in my life,” said Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton. “I can tell you that it was those physical chains that emotionally brought him to his knees, which is where he needed to be to reach out for help with an addiction that was ruining his life.”
The bill won approval and will come up for a final vote later this week.
Fracking in the Rockies. Image via WikiCommons.