DENVER – Colorado Senate Democrats attempted to join 10 other states and Washington, D.C. in an agreement to cast electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote on Wednesday but the measure was killed in committee.
Senate Bill 99, which would have joined Colorado to an agreement with other states to elect presidents on national popular vote rather than cast electoral votes on state-specific results, was killed in a 3-2 party line vote in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, said he was concerned this bill would affect the relationship between states and Washington, D.C., and trade state-focused policies for ones focused on special-interest groups.
“I don’t know that’s a healthy trade,” Hill said.
Suzanne Staiert, deputy secretary of state for Colorado, was among those who testified against SB 99.
Staiert said her office felt it was bad public policy to enter into the agreement and would be damaging to Colorado’s voice on a national level.
“It would dilute Coloradans’ votes because the compact binds the state’s electoral votes to voters in states other than Colorado,” Staiert said.
The agreement this bill would have entered Colorado into would not have immediately gone into effect, said bill sponsor Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood. “Nothing changes until enough states have adopted it to actually equal or exceed 270 electoral votes.”
Bills similar to S.B. 99, also sponsored by Kerr, had previously passed the Colorado House of Representatives in 2009 before dying in the Senate. The measure also passed the Senate in 2006 and 2007, but it did not clear the other chamber.
Kerr said he brought the bill forward because of constituent outreach, not as a response to the latest election.
A common sentiment from overwhelmingly supportive public testimony was the need to bring equity to an electoral process that has seen five presidential elections decided contrary to the popular vote.
In other action, SB 150, which would prohibit the practice of nepotism by public officials, was also heard Wednesday by the same committee, and it also died on a 3-2 party-line vote after objections were raised about the bill’s wording and questions about its ability to achieve its goal.
This bill was filed in response to President Donald Trump’s appointment of Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, as a senior adviser, and it also was brought to Kerr by his constituents, he said
“People want the power throughout districts, throughout the state, throughout the country. They don’t want it concentrated in one family, in one small group of people,” he said.