By IVAN MORENO Associated Press
DENVER - Colorado Senate Democrats want locally owned businesses to show up on smartphones, but Republicans opposing legislation to make it happen say there are already a bunch of apps for that.
"You can already do that. It's called Yelp," Republican Sen. Greg Brophy, of Wray, said Friday during debate on a bill that received preliminary approval.
Businesses who want to be listed would pay a $10 annual fee. The state's Economic Development and International Trade office would create an online database of locally owned business by Jan. 1, 2014, and also develop an app for smartphones.
Democrats say the measure is a simple way to encourage investment in local economies.
"When I first read (the bill) I was so excited," said Democratic Sen. Angela Giron, who commutes to the state Capitol from Pueblo. "I use the iPhone a lot and I use it mostly to help me get around Denver, which I'm not really familiar with, but I don't think it can help me find a local restaurant that is owned locally," she said.
She added, "I hope that when you come to Pueblo you can use this app."
But Republicans opposing the bill called it unnecessary and said that government shouldn't interfere with what the private sector is already doing with mobile apps.
"I'm trying to understand why the state is trying to inject itself into this," said Sen. Kevin Grantham, a Republican from southeast Colorado. He said there are hundreds of thousands of apps available for smartphones that help people find what they want.
"I just kind of wonder if there is a necessity there," he said.
Pam Greenberg, a policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said nonprofits, businesses and cities around the country have created "buy local" apps. But she said NCSL has not tracked whether states have introduced legislation like Colorado to create such an app.
The proposal faces one more vote in the Senate before it heads to the Republican-controlled House.
Aurora Sen. Morgan Carroll, the sponsor of the bill, said an app for Colorado local businesses would make it easier for consumers to support local business. She also said it's an inexpensive way for businesses to promote themselves.
"You can't tell me $10 isn't a steal," she said.
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