Wow -- What a first week of the second session of the 72nd General Assembly! A lot of “Pomp and Circumstance” was packed into the first two days. However, as I like to say, there was a lot more pomp and very little circumstance to be had in those 48 hours!
The Speaker gaveled the House to order at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 8.. Two new members joined the group this year – Rep. Mary Young (D-Greeley) and Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron). Rep. Young filled the seat of Rep. Galindo, who resigned in the face of a recall, and Rep. Holtorf filled the seat of Rep. Lewis, who passed away in December. When vacancies such as these occur, replacements are appointed by District Vacancy Committees to serve for the remainder of the Representative’s term. The makeup of the House remains 41 Democrats – 24 Republicans.
The members were treated to opening day speeches from Speaker of the House Becker (D-Boulder) and House Minority Leader Neville (R-Castle Rock). I know this may come as a shock, but the speeches outlined different agendas for the future of Colorado. The Speaker’s theme was “Come to the Table,” while the Minority Leader focused on “Do No Harm.” There were no surprises in the talking points.
The Speaker’s “Table” was loaded with a litany of topics offering a hint of bills to come this session. The partial list of topics to be addressed were the following: a just economy, make the state affordable, the homeless, the cost of drugs, teen suicide, school safety, underfunded schools, health care, a more fair criminal justice system, responsible gun ownership, climate change, mental health, paid family leave, transportation, school funding and the retirement “crisis.”
The Minority Leader spoke to doing no harm to “life, liberty, promotion of justice, mercy and prosperity.” Protecting unborn babies, putting the students first, giving parents more choice, fighting payroll taxes, opposing environmental regulations in response to climate alarmists, opposing safe injection sites, and not shielding violent alien criminals from federal law were included in his comments. If you compare the speaking points, do not expect to hear a bipartisan chorus of “Kum Ba Yah” echoing in the halls of the Golden Dome any time soon.
On Thursday, Jan. 9, Governor Polis shared his State of the State message in a joint session of all Senators and Representatives, plus a long list of dignitaries. The message was delayed by a group of protestors disrupting the House chamber demanding a declaration of a “climate emergency.” I was glad to see the State Patrol and the House Sergeants quickly “assist” them out of the chamber. Do not get me wrong, I fully support the right to protest. I do not support the right to disrupt. Before the Governor had finished speaking, 38 people were thinking about making bail.
No matter what you think of our Governor, he is a skilled politician. His speech was personal, passionate and professional. (And I do not say that just because he mentioned me by name for my work on Full Day Kindergarten.) He presented his agenda (closely aligned with the Speaker’s) in a non-confrontational manner. I would say his top two agenda items for this session would be free universal pre-school for all 4-year-olds and paid family/medical leave. It is difficult to predict how many of the Governor’s/Speaker’s wishes will come true, but the D’s do control all three branches of the government … just sayin’.
Please remember as this session gets underway, feel free to call my office in the Capitol at 303-866-2747 or send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We can help answer questions about bills or committee hearings, schedule a visit to the Golden Dome or just visit with you for a while.
Yours for HD 60,
Representative Jim Wilson