Legislative News

Volunteer lobbyists aim to teach legislators

The Colorado Statesman

Clad in bright, lime-green T-shirts, some 200 volunteers fanned out across the Capitol on Wednesday to deliver a message to lawmakers: Don’t adjourn without a plan to fix how Colorado funds education.

The 2013: Year of the Student Project, organized by school-funding advocacy group Great Education Colorado, recruited parents, students, teachers and business owners to distribute packets that included the plea backed by a petition and letters inquiring about legislators’ positions on school funding.

House opens with historic new leadership as Ferrandino takes over as Speaker

The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado House elected state Rep. Mark Ferrandino as its first gay speaker on Wednesday as a new Democratic maj-ority took over the gavel amid calls for cooperation and comity on the opening day of the 69th General Assembly.

“This is the greatest honor of my life, and I am humbled to stand here before you today,” said the Denver Democrat, whose family — including his husband, Greg Wertsch — sat in the front row of a packed House chamber. Ferrandino’s niece and nephew, Abbey and Owen McWhirter, led the assembled lawmakers, staff and guests in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Morse’s meandering opening day speech creates a stir

The Colorado Statesman

Newly designated Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, opened the legislative session with an unscripted “top secret” speech in which he shared an underlying message of working together for the greater good. But getting to that point took a winding 18-minute journey into Morse’s past days as a paramedic, during which he described a horrific traffic accident that left a father holding the IV bags as he watched his son perish.

Governor, legislators key into business issues at Capitol

The Colorado Statesman

The governor and legislative leaders unveiled their business agendas for the session that began on Wednesday. Legislation addressing research, economic development and job creation remains the focus for Democrats, while Republicans continue to look towards easing regulatory burdens and doing “no harm.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, kicked off the flurry of business activity during a news conference Monday in which he announced a bipartisan bill that seeks to accelerate research and development activities through $15 million in state funding.

Diversity reigns at legislature with a record

The Colorado Statesman

Friday night’s reception to celebrate diversity at the legislature was so well attended that the venue had to be moved to hold the over-flow crowd. Originally scheduled for a meeting room upstairs in the downtown bank building for an anticipated few dozen, it was instead moved to a larger room at the foot of two massive escalators that accommodated several hundred. And even then it was tough to navigate the crowd of politicos — many whom included elected officials and lobbyists — who gathered at the onset of the weekend to hail the victories made at the legislature.

Spouses and partners of new legislators learn about juggling work and private time

The Colorado Statesman

Life will become a maze of deadlines, attention and stress for 31 brand-new lawmakers who entered the Capitol on Jan. 9. But it will perhaps be their spouses and companions who face the most dramatic change over the 120 days of the next legislative session.

Several of these new lawmakers’ partners heard from experienced family members who have navigated the roller coaster that is public service. The orientation program on Dec. 13 sought to answer difficult questions about how to juggle both personal and work-related issues that can be overwhelming for those who are new to the Gold Dome.

Jobs still the focus at Capitol

The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper and legislative leaders from both parties on Dec. 14 unveiled their agenda for the upcoming session that begins on Jan. 9. It includes efforts at raising funds for transportation, making improvements to health care and education, while sorting out regulations surrounding marijuana and the oil and gas industry. Measures from last session, including same-sex civil unions and reduced tuition rates for undocumented students, will also surface again in the upcoming Democratic-controlled session.

Outgoing lawmakers transition into ‘civilian’ life

The Colorado Statesman

For outgoing lawmakers who lost elections in 2012, the transition from public to civilian life is both sudden and uncertain. But five legislators interviewed by The Colorado Statesman say they are anticipating life outside the Gold Dome as they prepare their personal and business lives for a new chapter.

Legislators set for health(y) exchange of ideas

The Colorado Statesman

Lawmakers are likely to wage a divisive battle over health care in the upcoming legislative session that begins on Jan. 9. Issues over expanding Medicaid, asking voters to approve universal health care, and the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange currently top the list.

Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, is leading the ambitious health care agenda for Democrats. Her most contentious battle could be over expanding Medicaid, which Republicans are weary of doing without containing spending.

2012 Legislative Wrap-up

Bills add new offenses, reforms to criminal justice system

The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed more than a dozen judicial bills this year that add new offenses, eliminate old offenses and bring reforms to the overall criminal justice system.

Perhaps the most controversial judicial bill was House Bill 1271, sponsored by Reps. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland, and Beth McCann, D-Denver, and Sens. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, and Tim Neville, R-Littleton. It requires a court hearing before prosecuting youth defendants as adults.