Colorado state Rep. Brandi Bradley had strong feelings about recent actions taken by Democrats to limit debate and discussion over controversial gun bills in the 2023 legislative session.
During a town hall in Castle Rock on March 29, Bradley, a Republican from the area south of Highlands Ranch who represents House District 39, joined fellow Douglas County state Reps. Lisa Frizell, R-Castle Rock, and Anthony Hartsook, R-Parker, to talk about the current session and issues they have with how Democrats, who hold the supermajority in the House, are silencing their voices.
After hours of debate had arleady taken place, on March 24, House Majority Leader Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, moved to limit debate to one more hour for Senate Bill 169, which, if approved, will make it easier to sue gun manufacturers and sellers, and Senate Bill 170, which would expand the controversial red flag law.
The vote, which falls under Colorado House Rule 14, passed 39-19, with all Republicans voting against it.
According to the Colorado General Assembly, the legislature’s rules allow the majority party to limit discussion whenever they want. In this case, Democrats hold a supermajority in the House with 46 Democrats vs. 19 total Republicans.
Bradley told several dozen Douglas County residents that when Republicans have been in power, they have not invoked Rule 14.
“This is a problem. This should not be a party issue,” Bradley said. “And I appeal to the Democrats. What if Republicans got up there and stripped abortion rights. Their precious abortion rights. Do you think that they would say, ‘Yeah, we are only going to take 10 hours’? They would not do it. This is not a party issue. This is wrong to limit our ability to speak for all of you.”
Frizell said despite losing the ability to debate and fight a bill, Republicans have not quit. Delay tactics now include requiring the bill to be read multiple times.
“Our strategy at this point is to drag this out as long as possible,” Frizell said. “They are going to keep invoking (Rule 14) and our response to that is to keep reading the bill out loud and sometimes twice. That will back the calendar up. We are up filibustering on every bill. We are going to go after them. That is why we are there so much. We are slowing things down.”
Reading an entire bill at length multiple times is not considered debate, which means the amount of time to read the bill in its entirety does not count.
Frizell, in her first term, said Democrats had to take the extreme action to limit discussion because Democrats have more than 600 bills on deck this year and only 120 days to push them through. Halting opposing voices allows Democrats to continue to push through bills aimed at limiting parental rights, property rights and other rights, Frizell said.
Bradley said at the current rate, Democrats are trying to push through one bill per hour, every day.
“They are angry that we are holding things up to speak our truth,” she said.
In a statement from state Rep. Robert Marshall, D-Highlands Ranch, Rule 14 was only invoked after the GOP broke two agreements to limit debate. Marshall is the only elected Democrat from Douglas County.
“The GOP was using debate simply to kill time in a legislature, that, by law, can only sit for 120 days,” he said in the March 25 statement. “This was not legitimate debate to convince the majority that a bill should be amended, changed or rejected. After 18 wasted work hours and multiple broken agreements, this was a legitimate invocation for Rule 14.”
Even with the Democrats' motion to limit discussion, according to a Colorado Sun report, total debate for Senate Bill 170 lasted about nine hours, and Senate Bill 168 continued for about 10 hours.