DENVER—Today, members on the House Public Health and Human Services Committee were restricted from questioning witnesses during the first committee hearing of Senate Bill 18-243, one of the most contentious bills of the session. Committee hearings are open to public testimony, giving elected officials an invaluable opportunity to discuss the details of legislation with expert witnesses.

However, due to the extreme backlog of bills still awaiting action in the final days of the legislative session, the Democrat committee chair restricted public testimony and prohibited members from engaging witnesses.

“The last time I saw Democrats limit testimony and prohibit questioning was during the 2013 gun bills, and that led to some of the worst laws on our books,” said Representative Justin Everett (R-Littleton), who is a member of the committee that heard the bill. “Restricting a critical process on one of the largest bills of the session because Democrat leadership failed to manage the calendar is a terrible way to legislate, and Coloradans deserve better.”

Senate Bill 18-243 would have made significant changes to Colorado’s laws governing the retail sale of malt liquor and full strength beer.

“It is quite frustrating that at the end of legislative session we are forced to deal with bills, months in the making, in only a matter of days,” said Representative Hugh McKean (R-Loveland), the cosponsor of the bill.

Dozens of witnesses, including industry experts, were instructed to confine their remarks to less than two minutes and were not allowed to dialogue with legislators.

As of Friday morning, the House had 81 bills outstanding with five days left in session.