State Rep. Dave Williams is in need of friends in Colorado’s Senate. Without them, the hard-line conservative’s “badge fee” bill is stuck in the House of Representatives.
By proposing House Bill 1046, Williams hasn’t gained any more Republican friends, though Democrats have rallied around the measure, which seeks to prohibit major political parties from preventing delegates or alternates from voting in caucuses or party assemblies unless they hand over what are commonly known as "badge fees."
Only Republican parties across the state charge the fees, which range anywhere from a few bucks to $70. As such, dozens of Republican chairs of county parties across the state have rallied together to oppose Williams’ bill, which they call gross government overreach and say has the potential to bankrupt the party.
Unaffected by the measure, Democrats pushed the bill through a House committee last month and through a second vote in the House last week.
“There are limited circumstances where a Democrat can agree with me, and this happens to be one of them,” Williams said.
The bill still awaits a third and final vote in the House, which would pass it to the Senate for consideration. But as of Wednesday morning, Williams said he had yet to secure sponsors in the Senate. Without them the bill can’t be passed to the second chamber, and it would effectively die in the House.
“We’re putting it on pause,” Williams said. “As long as (a vote takes place) before the last day (of the Legislature), we can be in a holding pattern.”
Williams said he wants two sponsors in the Senate -- a Democrat and a Republican -- before pushing his bill to its third and final vote in the House. Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, is co-sponsoring the measure in the House.
Already at least one Democratic senator is considering sponsoring the bill, Williams said. But he was unwilling to name potential Republican sponsors without cementing their position first.
And it’s the Republican sponsor that might be the most troublesome.
Freshman Sen. Dennis Hisey, R-Fountain, said he was neither approached to sponsor a bill, nor is he willing to do so.
Asked whether any other senators might step up to the task, Hisey said: “None come to mind right now that I’m thinking are raising their hand to say, 'Let me do that.'"
Hisey did, however, acknowledge that badge fees have caused problems with Republicans, though he’d rather let individual parties solve the issue internally than rely on legislation.
Additional Republican and Democratic senators could not immediately be reached for comment.