One side argued that the helmet decision should be left to parents. The other said it's the government's job.
The Senate had been expected to cast its first official vote on House Bill 1117, but a handful of Democrats joined Republicans to stall the controversial measure. It is now before the Appropriations Committee, where opponents hope it remains in a holding pattern.
Republicans said the measure erodes parental rights.
"We're really good at telling people how to run their lives," said Sen. David Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs. "We need to stop stomping on people's personal liberties."
Democratic backers shot back, arguing that 80 percent of motorcycle accidents result in severe injuries.
"The issue here is the safety of kids," said Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver. "We have a responsibility to save them. Yes, it's an inconvenience on the family, but the issue is it will save lives."
To make a point of how absurd Republicans believe the bill is, Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, offered a heckler amendment to require kids to wear helmets while riding bicycles. He withdrew it.
"We should trust parents to make good decisions for themselves and their children," he said. "There's a movement to also force kids to wear helmets when riding a bike. Where does it stop?"
Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver, rolled his eyes. "We're saying that a motorcycle is more dangerous. It's heavier than a bike. It goes faster, and it's in traffic."