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Colorado Senate advances space liability measure
Denver Business Journal
February 14th, 2012
A once-controversial bill granting limited liability to companies operating spaceflights out of Colorado passed the Colorado Senate unanimously on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 35, sponsored by Rep. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, is viewed as the key piece of legislation needed to help the Front Range Airport, which is six miles east of Denver International Airport , to get federal designation as a spaceport.
If granted, that would allow the horizontal launch of vehicles from the airport to take travelers into suborbital space and allow them to traverse the globe in mere hours.
SB 35 grants legal immunity to any companies operating such flights if travelers who sign liability waivers are injured or killed because of the normal risks of spaceflight. Similar laws have been passed in New Mexico, Texas and Florida — all states considered primary competitors to Colorado for attracting the fledgling spaceflight industry.
Trial lawyers originally planned to oppose the bill until an amendment was added last week that grants a more narrow immunity window to such companies.
During preliminary debate on the measure Monday, both Republicans and Democrats hailed it as a bill that could help to create jobs. Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont said SB 35 will “put a welcome sign on Colorado to the aerospace industry.”
The bill heads next to a House committee.
Monday, both of Colorado’s U.S. senators and all seven of its U.S. House of Representatives members announced they had sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration endorsing designation of Colorado as a spaceport state.