Legislative News

SD 31 votes in Steadman

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

It took three rounds of balloting and four hours in a hot auditorium at Morey Middle School in Denver Wednesday night, but lobbyist Pat Steadman was selected to replace Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, who is moving to Australia.

Labor leaders say Gov. Ritter sold them out

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

In what many political insiders considered a surprise move, Gov. Bill Ritter vetoed House Bill 1170 late Tuesday afternoon, stopping a legislative action to give unemployment benefits to employees locked out during labor disputes.

Expectedly, union leaders, many of whom are currently embroiled in contract talks with grocery chains in Colorado, expressed outrage at the governor’s use of the veto pen.

Johnston channels Obama in SD 33

By Janet Simons
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

When the big announcement came, the crowd knew exactly what it meant.

As they absorbed the news that Mapleton Expeditionary School principal Michael Johnston, an early adviser to the Barack Obama campaign on education issues, would replace Peter Groff in the Colorado Senate, a wave of elation and hope swept through the auditorium at Smiley Middle School.

Senate District 33 vacancy committee credentials chair John Walsh had prepped the 400 or so committee members and other interested politicos.

Guv signs bills in Springs

By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

COLORADO SPRINGS — Gov. Bill Ritter signed seven bills into law at a town hall meeting in the Penrose Library and dished kudos to hometown Democratic legislators Sen. John Morse and Representatives Mike Merrifield and Dennis Apuan. The two-hour ceremony also was attended by two GOP legislators, Rep. Don Marostica, of Loveland, and Sen. Ted Harvey, of Highlands Ranch.

El Paso County legislators end session with sigh of relief

By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

COLORADO SPRINGS — Facing massive challenges — none more daunting than covering the state budget shortfall — legislative members of the El Paso County delegation vented views. Though the eight Republicans rarely agree with their three Democratic peers, Democratic Sen. John Morse and Republican Marsha Looper summed up the session in the same single word — “challenging.”

Republicans chose the following:

“Troublesome,” said Sen. Dave Schultheis.

GOP ambushes Apuan at Springs bill signing

By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

COLORADO SPRINGS — As rays of afternoon sun rippled across the Carnegie Room of the Penrose Library, Gov. Bill Ritter was buoyant as he signed bills sponsored by local Democrats Sen. John Morse and representatives Michael Merrifield and Dennis Apuan.

Dems hail progress, GOP decries taxes

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

The 2009 legislative session offered large budget cuts, new fees and a whole lot of political wrangling. And, when it was over, both parties produced completely predictable reactions.

The Republicans talked about failed leadership, missed opportunities and a Democrat-controlled Legislature that was willing to “tax and spend” its way out of troubled economic times.

Health care fares 'well' amid budget cuts

By Richard Haugh
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Lawmakers dealing with shortfalls approaching $1 billion and a long line of interest groups looking for funding generally spared health care interests from the budget ax wielded so frequently during the 67th session of the Colorado General Assembly.

Compared with higher education and transportation, health care fared well. This year, however, “well” is a relative term. Few new programs were created, and those that were received modest funding.

Budget frenzy finally produces signed Long Bill

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Whew! It’s over! Finally!

Well, kind of.

After one of the most difficult budget-balancing acts in legislative memory, Gov. Bill Ritter penned the Long Bill into law last week. Ritter’s signature ends four months of frenzied discussion, massive cuts to state programs, repeals of tax exemptions and bitter disagreements on the best way to slice $1.4 billion from the collective 2008-’09 and 2009-’10 state budgets.

GOP ploy nearly sinks SB 228

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

The controversial effort to repeal Colorado’s revered General Fund spending limit, known as Arveschoug-Bird, was almost killed by House Republicans Monday. The effort, many later said, was the best political gamesmanship under the dome in years.