One of the most amazing and humbling aspects of serving in the House of Representatives is the fact that I am a part of history each and every day.
Last Friday, the historical spotlight was focused on the House chamber more intently than at any point of my previous three-term tenure.
March 2, the House voted overwhelmingly (52 aye, 9 no - with 4 excused) to oust Rep. Steve Lebsock from the Colorado House of Representatives over multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
Lebsock became the first Colorado House member to be expelled since 1915, when Rep. William Howlett was removed after he perjured himself in a bribery investigation.
Throughout the day-long debate, there was an emotionally charged litany of “he said, she said” stories and allegations.
Each legislator was allowed a total of 10 minutes for their presentations, while three designated members of each party were allowed a total of one hour to present and rebut.
Rep. Lebsock was allowed a total of 2 ½ hours to present his case, including rebuttal. Needless to say, it was an emotional roller coaster for everyone in the chamber.
It could be argued that the question of sexual harassment was never fully sorted out. Obviously something serious had occurred, but the exact details were not exactly clear.
However, the nail in the coffin was the obvious retaliation on the part of Rep. Lebsock. In his remarks, Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist (R-Centennial) shifted the focus to Lebsock’s own retaliation, not on the alleged harassment.
Wist argued that Lebsock opened himself up for expulsion when he sent each legislator a 28-page document with his side of the story, Jan. 8, a document that was deemed retaliatory in nature. “There is a correct way to fight back, and an incorrect way to fight back,” Wist said. Retaliation is grounds for expulsion; case closed.
Several of us urged Rep. Lebsock to do the right thing and resign before the final vote was taken. He chose to not take our counsel and rode it out to the end. However, he got in one last dig at his Democrat colleagues. Just before the vote happened, Lebsock changed parties from Democrat to Republican.
His action opened the door for the Republicans to form a vacancy committee to select a new representative for House District 34. It remains to be seen if Lebsock’s seat will be filled for the second half of the legislative session.
House District 34 is not the only representative district gearing up to select candidates. All 65 House Districts and 17 of the 35 Senate Districts will be up for election this fall.
Republicans and Democrats alike are entering the Caucus and assembly season to select candidates. For my side of the aisle, Republican caucuses are scheduled for March 6, followed by county assemblies.
The State Republican Assembly will be held at the Coors Event Center in Boulder on Saturday, April 14. Once the candidate slates are finalized, the people of Colorado will vote in the primary election, June 26. The fall general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Hopefully, the House will get back to business as usual this week.
Unless another historical crisis occurs to disrupt the calendar, the House has a backlog of bills to address. One of those bills, HB 18-1193 is my bill to extend the Advanced Placement Incentives Pilot Program another three years. It is scheduled for third reading on Monday.
If you have questions about bills or committee hearings or would like to schedule a visit to the Golden Dome, please 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.
Yours for HD 60 – Representative Jim Wilson