The Denver Post
Gov. John Hickenlooper has let his fellow Democrats know he has issues with a bill that allows lawmakers to repeal Colorado's death penalty, mentioning a "veto" as the sponsors say they have the votes to get it passed.
Hickenlooper on Tuesday spoke with House Democrats at their regular caucus luncheon in a building across the street from the Capitol, one hour before a committee was scheduled to hear the death-penalty bill.
Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, said it was the first time he has heard the governor use the term "veto."
"He did not say, 'I will definitely, undoubtedly with no question veto this,' " Pabon said. "But he did say that is something he is bouncing around. He used the 'v' word."
who asked not to be identified, said Hickenlooper told the caucus, "There are some things we're going to have to disagree on ... and those things we disagree on I'll have to veto." Rep. Lois Court of Denver, the House Democratic caucus chairwoman, said she was busy with the luncheon and missed some but not all of the governor's points.
"He kind of said he thinks we need more public conversation," she said. "He wants to have more opportunities to ask the public for their input."
The House Judiciary Committee heard the death penalty bill one hour after the luncheon on Tuesday, but took no official action.
Some lawmakers said Hickenlooper's concerns could doom the measure.
"It's no secret the governor has conflicting feelings about the death penalty," Hickenlooper's spokesman, Eric Brown, said via e-mail Wednesday. "Those feelings are still unresolved."
When Hickenlooper ran for office in 2010, he answered a Denver Post question about whether the death penalty should be repealed by saying, "No, but it should be restricted."
Late last year,
House Bill 1264 was laid over Tuesday night after nine hours of impassioned testimony by proponents and opponents. The measure would repeal capital punishment in Colorado for offenses committed after July 1.
A date for when a final committee vote will occur on the measure has not been set.
Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, the bill's co-sponsor, said she's eager to move forward.
"I have the votes in the House to pass the bill and it's not just partisan, it's bipartisan," Levy said Wednesday. The measure is also co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Kevin Priola of Henderson.
On Wednesday, another committee heard a separate death penalty measure by Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. Her bill would have voters decide in 2014 whether to repeal the death penalty. It was laid over after a brief committee hearing.
Fields opposes Levy's bill. Two of the three men currently on Colorado's death row — Sir Mario Owens and Robert Ray — were convicted of killing Fields' son in 2005.
Neither Fields nor Levy's measures would impact those already on death row, or someone charged with a crime before their proposals became law.
The last person the state of Colorado put to death was Gary Davis in 1997.