The first session of the 72nd General Assembly is in the books. At 6:45 p.m. May 3, it was “Turn out the lights – the party’s over” on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives.
The House adjourned sine die (from the Latin “without day”) on Friday and sent the 65 Representatives home until January 8, 2020, when another 120-day session will begin. The 2019 session was one of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in terms of legislation; depending upon your perspective.
One of the good things that occurred took place May 1. A tearful sendoff was given to Marilyn Eddins, Clerk of the House.
Eddins has served in the House since December of 1982. As chief clerk, she has been a stickler for House decorum, attention to detail, and has been the force behind the renovation of the Capitol. The building is as historically accurate as it can be thanks to Eddins.
I told her if she would stay on one more year until my term is over, I would waltz her down the aisle; she opted to go ahead and retire this year. She is dearly loved and will be greatly missed.
As a caucus, it was a tremendously challenging year. With the Democrats holding the Governor’s chair, a majority in the Senate and a super majority in the House, they pushed through a party-driven agenda that polarized the state.
No matter on which side of an issue you found yourself, there was another group in bitter opposition. My rule of thumb in carrying bills is, if there is vocal, negative opposition, it is probably not ready for prime time.
Ironically, speaking of carrying bills, I had my best session ever in terms of both number and magnitude. Included in the big ones passing through the process were fully funding kindergarten, reorganization of the READ Act, the dyslexia bill and the school finance bill.
When you add up all the education bills (including funding kindergarten), this session was great for investing in our children. Incidentally, SB 19-246 was the first time Minority Leader Rep. Neville voted for a school finance bill, ever.
At the same time, several bills (including the READ Act and the dyslexia bill) addressed the need to improve our students’ basic skills.
Before you conclude that I only work with education issues, check out some of my other bill topics that survived the process.
Included in the list are – Scholarships for Rural Physicians, Modification of Conservation Easements, Treatment for Opioid Abuse and Utilization of the (currently vacant) CSP II Correction Facility in Canon City.
My unofficial scorecard for the session was 23 total bills carried as a prime sponsor; with only two failing to make it through the process. In addition, I signed on to 44 additional bills as a co-sponsor.
Signing on as a cosponsor means you strongly supported the bill but you did not actually carry the bill.
I am eagerly looking forward to May 8, the official signing of HB 19-1262 (Fully Funding Kindergarten) will take place at high noon at Steadman Elementary in Denver. I have waited six years for this event.
The state’s finally picking up the full kindergarten tab and will free up a lot of dollars in my school districts for their general fund budgets. Those liberated funds can now go to salaries and other needs.
Now that the session is over, I will not be in my office except during interim committee days. You can, however, still visit the Golden Dome if you choose to stop by over the summer.
Guided tours are available throughout the week. I highly recommend it. It’s such a great experience.
However, we are not in the office regularly, so it may take a while for us to get back to you.
Thank you for following us in this column, and have a great summer.