Colo. lawmakers push to finish

House clears bill to expand access to driver’s licenses for noncitizens

DENVER – Legislators hastened to tie up loose ends Monday on the third-to-last day of their annual session.

The House gave initial approval to one of the final controversial bills on its agenda, offering driver’s licenses to people who are in the country illegally.

Under Senate Bill 251, in order to get a license without proof of citizenship, people will have to show they live and pay taxes in Colorado, plus prove who they are with a foreign identification card.

Their license will be stamped with a notice that it is not a valid ID for voting. Republicans said election judges might not see the warning, and they tried to change the bill to require drivers’ pictures to be taken from the side, instead of head-on.

“It makes complete sense to make sure we know whose license we’re looking at,” said Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada.

But Democrats turned away the attempt. The bill has support from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police and the County Sheriffs of Colorado, who say it’s safer to have properly licensed drivers on the road.

The House also gave final approval to first of four marijuana bills in the Legislature. Two other marijuana bills – which include regulations on who can grow and sell marijuana and how it’s taxed – are in the Senate. And a fourth bill, which sets standards for when marijuana users are too high to drive, passed the House and is headed for the Senate.

In other news Monday morning:

The House passed $100 million worth of tax credits for low-income workers. Senate Bill 1 increases Coloradans’ chances to claim a state Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Colorado will regulate industrial hemp cultivation after a unanimous vote in the House. The sponsor of SB 241 is Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose.

A plan to create a state aerial firefighting agency passed its final vote in the House 48-17, but the Legislature has not set aside money to hire pilots or buy planes.

And a bill to get the state ready for Internet sales taxes passed the Senate 21-14. It has already passed the House. The bill simplifies sales-tax payments for out-of-state Internet businesses – one of the requirements in the federal Marketplace Fairness Act, which is expected to pass the U.S. Senate this week.

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