Colorado’s first special session in five years ended after two days with no legislation passing. The governor had called lawmakers back to the state capitol to fix a mistake in the most extensive and heavily lobbied bill of the 2017 session, Senate Bill 267.
Statehouse reporters Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and John Frank with the Denver Post talk to Bente Birkeland about what went wrong and what it could mean when lawmakers return to the capitol for the regular session next year.
Who is to blame for nothing passing?
Frank: The governor thought he had the votes to get this out of the Senate committee and out of the Senate, but it turned out some votes flipped and some people changed their minds, and the governor’s office left with a little egg on their face from this session.
You can also argue that Senate Republicans who blocked this legislation could deserve some of the blame too. They come across looking obstructionist to a lot of people. There’s been a lot of comparisons to Washington, D.C. politics here in Colorado, because we had a two-day session that cost more than $50,000 and nothing happened.
Who gains from the special session?
Sealover: I think the earlier winner out of the session are going to be campaign marketing groups who are going to be able to put out flyers now on the Democratic side saying Republicans don’t want to help transit and arts organizations.
And put out flyers from the Republican side saying Democrats want to ram through an unconstitutional fix that takes more of your tax money without asking.
What’s next for the Republican-controlled Senate?
Frank: They’re willing to work with the governor moving forward and they’ll hit the reset button come January.
But it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t a little hard feelings that will remain, particularly because there’s a lot of behind the scenes negotiation that broke down. And people changed their minds on the legislation and their minds about the approach.
So, yes, it’s going to be hard to get some things through next session because they essentially have to start over and rebuild that trust.
Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.