Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Congressman Bob Beauprez sparred over issues voters are familiar with at this point in the gubernatorial campaign during an Oct. 9 debate in Fort Collins, but they also addressed issues that haven't been making as …
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Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Congressman Bob Beauprez sparred over issues voters are familiar with at this point in the gubernatorial campaign during an Oct. 9 debate in Fort Collins, but they also addressed issues that haven't been making as many headlines.
Yes, the two tangled over the death penalty — as they have the entire campaign — but the KUSA-sponsored debate, held at Colorado State University, also focused on other areas of public safety, affordable housing and even red-light cameras.
Beauprez, a Republican, blasted the Democratic incumbent for not fighting hard enough for a construction-law reform bill from earlier this year that he believed would helped rein in rising housing costs around the state.
Beauprez said Colorado's tough construction-defects law discourages builders from making affordable condos because of high insurance costs.
“There is something, especially in the Front Range, that has driven up rents and housing prices and that's called the construction-defects legislation,” Beauprez said.
Beauprez said Hickenlooper provided “absolutely zero leadership” when a reform bill that was introduced late in this year's legislative session failed to gain steam. The bill would have made it more difficult for condo owners to sue builders over construction defects.
Hickenlooper agreed that changes to the law need to be made, but said rising rental costs are attributed to other economic factors.
“It's certainly not the defining factor in the incredible inflation we've seen in housing costs,” he said. “That's been going on for a number of years.”
Also during the debate, Beauprez made news for saying he would like to see a repeal of laws that allow for the legal sale of marijuana. The former congressman cited health concerns while laying out his position.
“Yes, I think we're at that point where the consequences we've already discovered from this might be far greater than the liberty the citizens thought they were embracing,” Beauprez said.
Hickenlooper made news of his own at a debate earlier in the week, where he said voters were “reckless” for supporting last year's Amendment 64, which legalized recreational pot sales and use in Colorado.
In spite of his concerns over the impact that marijuana use can have on a developing brain, Hickenlooper wouldn't go as far as saying that the constitutional amendment needs to be repealed.
“But I do think we need more resources to make sure that kids and parents understand this is not like sneaking a beer out when you're younger,” the governor said.
Public safety discussed
Beauprez has been trying make hay out of public-safety issues this campaign, which played a role in this debate as well.
Beauprez criticized Hickenlooper for failing to guide through new public-safety measures during last year's legislative session, including a bill that would have created a felony DUI and another bill that would have placed mandatory minimums for vehicular-homicide convictions.
And Beauprez again attacked Hickenlooper over the issue of the death penalty — which Hickenlooper once supported, but now opposes. Hickenlooper has had to play defense on this issue since last year, when he granted a reprieve for death-row inmate Nathan Dunlap.
“I don't think you necessarily have a fondness for violent criminals,” Beauprez said, “but why do you seem to have such a problem standing up for innocent Coloradans?”
Hickenlooper fought back against Beauprez's attack, saying that violent crimes are down over the last four years and reminding him that he has signed into law legislation that put in place $30 million for reform in mental-health services, which he believes will also reduce violent crimes.
The governor said he will continue to support laws that strengthen public safety, but that sometimes things aren't that easy at the Legislature.
“If you were governor and not just thinking about it, you'd recognize that sometimes you can't get everything done you want,” Hickenlooper said.
As for Dunlap, the governor tried to put an end to any speculation that he would grant him clemency, something he suggested was on the table during an interview last year.
“I will commit, promise to leave it to the next governor,” he said.
Beauprez found himself on the defensive over comments he gave to the Denver Rotary Club in 2010, where he gave economic comments that were similar to those that derailed Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy in 2012.
Beuauprez said then that “we've got almost half of the population perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill,” saying that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax.
“I think it's human nature that we're fine if somebody else picks up the tab,” Beauprez said on the debate stage, in response to a question about his previous comments. “The point of the comment ... was that there needs to be more opportunity in Colorado, which has gone to other states on (Hickenlooper's) watch.”
The Hickenlooper campaign believes the economy is a winning issue for them, citing an economy that continues to grow and create jobs.
The two agreed on certain issues, including whether they would sign a bill to ban red-light cameras. The controversial effort to curb bad driving and accidents at busy intersections seems to get attention at the Capitol every year.
Both Beauprez and Hickenlooper said the cameras could be good uses for public safety, but they would like to get assurances from municipalities that they're not simply using the technology to bust drivers to generate revenue.
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