This was to be the week of eager anticipation for state legislators as we prepared for a return to the Capitol May 18 to do the people’s business.
Alas, it was not to be. Saturday, May 9, Democratic Leadership in the General Assembly announced that the temporary suspension of the Legislature will continue until the week of May 25.
The rationale given included “ … additional time for preparations, including safety protocols, to work through appropriate legislation and seek greater clarity on potential Congressional action that could significantly impact our state budget.”
The aforementioned rationale on the surface sounds reasonable, however, reality makes the rationale a little disturbing. Realistically, we have had plenty of time to prepare for safety protocols.
The entire state has been making adjustments for weeks. Surely the Legislature can adapt as well. “Looking through appropriate legislation,” is simply the Democrats’ code for “We need a little more time to see if we can figure out how to fund our agenda bills.”
And finally, waiting on the federal government to bail out Colorado’s budget deficit borders on being delusional. It is similar to the person whose retirement plan is buying a lottery ticket every week: they could hit it big, but the chances are not that good.
The Republicans’ strategy during this turbulent time has been two-fold. First of all, they have been urging the governor to allow the people of the state of Colorado to get back to work. A total of three letters have been sent to the governor addressing the need to get Colorado moving again.
The response to all three? Crickets. In light of no response to the personal letters, House Minority Leadership turned to the press. An opinion piece was sent to The Colorado Springs Gazette entitled, “Colorado at the Crossroads,” as a means of getting the governor’s attention.
The article pointed out such things as where the current leadership of Colorado calls home. The governor is from Boulder, the speaker of the souse is from Boulder, Senate Majority Leader Fenberg is from Boulder and House Majority Leader Garnett was raised in Boulder. Is there a pattern here?
We may be caught up in a “Boulder Knows Best” cycle. A second major point in the article was the governor’s joining the Western States Pact (to coordinate coronavirus strategy) without consulting with the legislature.
At first glance, joining the Western States Pact sounds like a good idea. Once you look at the original member states, you realize they only include the west coast states: California, Oregon and Washington.
Arizona, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming are glaringly absent from the pact. Either they are not considered western or they are not correctly aligned politically; it makes one wonder.
The article closes with “We want to work with the governor to craft policies designed to make our state and people flourish. Our commitments are not to the political leadership of other states, but to the people of our own communities who make up the Colorado we know and love. We hope the governor will join us as we work to restore Colorado, and put Coloradans first.”
Time will tell if the crickets chirp again.
Even though we are not at the Capitol, legislative drama continues to build. Some of the Democrats are pushing for remote floor debates and committee meetings. Current statutes do not allow remote meetings.
The Democrats advocating for remote meetings are of the opinion that House and Senate rules overrule statute.
Obviously, the Republicans believe the same thing. It appears the Senate Democrats do not have consensus or the votes to pass policy allowing for remote meetings.
The House Democrats are also divided on the matter. Senate and House Republicans are adamantly opposed. Strangely enough, in spite of the fact there is strong opposition from both sides of the aisle, rehearsals of remote meetings are being held under the Golden Dome. As for me, I feel pushing rules over statute can be summarized by the phrase, “How do you spell lawsuit?”
Personally, I heard a bit of good news this past week. Our House JBC member indicated that kindergarten will remain a part of the overall school finance picture. In other words, my “Full Day Kindergarten” bill from last session will remain in effect. Kindergarten students will continue to be counted as full-time, not part-time, students.