Colorado’s lawmakers have selected their leaders for the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January. While the presidential race was marked by deep political divisions, Republicans and Democrats in Colorado are optimistic about working together.
Bente Birkeland sat down to talk shop with two other capitol reporters – Ed Sealover of the Denver Business Journal and Peter Marcus of the Durango Herald.
Here are three things you should know about the leadership changes at the legislature and how it could impact state policies.
The Democratic House and Republican Senate have fresh leadership, and so far both sides feel positive about working together.
Sealover: I think the dynamics are going to be between the new Senate President Kevin Grantham and the new House Speaker Crisanta Duran. Grantham has been very positive about being able to have a good working relationship with Duran and to be able to advance legislation that has stalled the last two years on construction defects reform and on transportation funding.
The impact of a Trump presidency is unknown.
Marcus: Usually the vitriol goes away a lot after the election. Personally I’m skeptical, just because Democrats are still really, really pissed off about a Trump presidency. Talking to Democratic leadership, they’re talking about how they need to curb Trump’s agenda because it’s now the Republican agenda.
Gov. John Hickenlooper may need to be bolder to push through gridlock.
Sealover: The Governor was able to kind of sit back and watch the two houses kill things for most of the last two years. And there’s a feeling that he’s got to step up this time. Now he’s got a whole new set of leaders, people maybe he can work a little bit better, and that he’s going to need to inject himself a little bit more into some of these discussions, on everything from education funding to affordable housing in order to get something done.
Marcus: I think the Governor is in a great spot for the next two years. He doesn’t have to worry about Hillary Clinton being President and whether or not he would move over to her administration. He can focus just on the state. He doesn’t have to worry about elections, certainly not in the next year. The things he might have been more cautious about, he can be a bit more bold about.