DENVER – Nostalgic musings mixed with debates over mining and marijuana at the Capitol on Wednesday as the Legislature adjourned for the year.
By law, the annual session is limited to 120 days, and legislators used nearly every hour of it, passing their last bill at 7:15 p.m.
In between saying goodbye to term-limited colleagues, legislators wrapped up work on a bill for groundwater protections at uranium mills that won the support of Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose.
Coram argued passionately late Wednesday night against a part of Senate Bill 192 that would have required some mines to get radioactive materials permits if they use a new mining technology that involves pumping water into rock formations. When the Senate sided with Coram and insisted that part be deleted, the House agreed and passed the bill 63-2.
“Sometimes we let fear and emotion get in the way,” Coram said. “I don’t believe there’s anybody in this room who wants contaminated water. I think the Senate version takes care of that.”
The Legislature also finalized a bill about edible marijuana, but lawmakers couldn’t agree exactly how pot-infused products should be shaped and colored to make clear that they are not regular candy. Instead, House Bill 1366 creates a task force to study the issue and tells the Department of Revenue to pass rules for edibles by Jan. 1, 2016.
“These things have to be visually recognizable,” said Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, one of the sponsors.
Legislators also passed a bill to let marijuana businesses – which can’t get bank accounts – form a cooperative to get financial services.
A few other bills died within sight of the finish line, including a tax exemption for computer data centers and a proposal to charge habitual drunken drivers with a felony.
Legislators will quickly turn their attention to the fall election. Both of Southwest Colorado’s Republicans – Coram and Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango – are running unopposed. Rep. Mike McLachlan, D-Durango, has a rematch with Republican J. Paul Brown.
Other familiar faces left the Legislature for good Wednesday, including Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver. Ferrandino was Colorado’s first gay speaker of the House, and he saw a same-sex civil unions law passed on his watch last year.