A conference committee earlier in the day put a ban on the death penalty back into the bill, setting up their colleagues for politically tricky votes on the controversial topic on the final day of the session.
The House in April passed by one vote the original version of House Bill 1274, which would have ended capital punishment and used the savings to build a cold-case task force within the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The Senate, which had not voted the death-penalty proposal up or down, earlier this week took out the death-penalty ban and instead implemented a $2.50 fee on anyone convicted of a traffic, misdemeanor or felony offense to pay for grants to local police jurisdictions.
In his first comments on the bill, Gov. Bill Ritter said today that he thought the death penalty should not have been tied to funding cold cases.
"Those are two separate issues, and I told the sponsor of the bill they were wrong to do that," he said. "You don't get a pure debate about either."
The governor, who previously served as district attorney in Denver, had been criticized for not saying where he stood on the bill.
Ritter, a Democrat, pointed out that his predecessor, Republican Bill Owens, at times was silent on big issues. "You wait it out, and you let the debate happen because you can so influence a very important debate," he said.
Ritter also pointed out that the bill had changed three times in three days, including the Senate stripping the death-penalty provision.
As it was introduced, HB 1274 by House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, and Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, would end capital punishment and use the savings to solve cold cases.
Critics said the anti-death-penalty bill sponsors were gambling with funding for cold cases.
"You're prepared to lose this bill and get no new funding for cold cases, rather than accept what was a bipartisan compromise?" Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry asked Carroll.
Carroll argued that disbursing money through grants to local jurisdictions alone, as the Senate version would have done, would not adequately address the 1,434 unsolved homicide cases piling up in Colorado.
How they voted
How state senators voted this afternoon on a committee report on House Bill 1274:
Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, Y
Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, Y
Greg Brophy, R-Wray, N
Bill Cadman, R-Colo. Spring, N
Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, Y
Joyce Foster, D-Denver, Y
Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, Y
Peter Groff, D-Denver, Y
Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, N
Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, Y
Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, N
Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, Y
Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, N
Moe Keller, D-Wheat Ridge, Y
Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, N
Keith King, R-Colo. Springs, N
Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, N
Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, N
Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, N
John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, N
Linda Newell, D- Littleton, Y
Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, N
Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, N
Chris Romer, D-Denver, Y
Paula Sandoval, D-Denver, Y
Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, N
David Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, N
Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, Y
Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, Y
Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, N
Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, Y
Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, N
Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, Y
Al White, R-Hayden, N
Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, Y