Rob Woodward

State Sen. Rob Woodward apologizes for racially offensive remarks on the Senate floor on Monday, June 8, 2020.

Republican state Sen. Rob Woodward of Loveland said his remarks about race and debt collectors on Saturday were borne of ignorance not hate.

Saturday, the Republican from Loveland used the phrase "step on the neck" regarding Senate Bill 211, which would bar "extraordinary debt collections," including wage garnishments that left people with too little to live on.

Woodward also misattributed the phrase “colored people,” used during a committee hearing, to one of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat from Denver. Gonzales never used the phrase, but it was rather a paraphrase by a GOP staff member that Woodward thought to be a direct quote.

"On Saturday, I stood in the well and uttered two phrases that are offensive," he began. "For that I am sorry. Those phrases were uttered in ignorance, not out of hate or spite."

"We spoke about words, we spoke about experiences, theirs and mine. We come from different places, different times, different lives. They taught me about the history of those phrases and the battle that continues inside and outside this building.

"Each of us is human. We make mistakes. When I make a mistake I would ask that you give me the chance to learn. If we don't give each other the space to learn, the only alternative is to do battle, and that just drives further apart."

He spoke about a bill regarding wage garnishments as debt collections.

Woodward was speaking on an amendment that would "prevent the government from using their raw power to garnish the wages of people who are suffering during this crisis. The image of George Floyd is how I pictured the image of state government from taking money from those who are struggling."

He apologized directly to Gonzales "for words she did not say."

Woodward said he read word for word from what he was thought was a direct transcript, but it was not.

"I own it," he said Monday morning. "I should have proofread it better. I should have gone back to the audio to make sure she actually said those words."

Woodward, who is white, said he knew "colored people" was part of the acronym NAACP. He said he has since spoken with friends, including black legislators. 

"I learned it was used as a pejorative in the 1960s and they're still used in racist circles today," Woodward said. 

"But this phrase is not something that's come up in my life experience."

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