The Session Begins!

The Colorado General Assembly convened this morning amid promises of bipartisanship and progress.

In a packed room of lobbyists, activists, family members, and legislative aides, House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D-Denver) addressed fellow lawmakers and spoke on moving ‘not left, not right, but forward.”

Minority Leader Mike May (R-Parker) also expressed hopes for compromise, but stressed fiscal restraint and transparency. The Speeches

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff

Romanoff welcomed the largest body of freshman legislators since statehood, and gave a brief history lesson on Colorado government. The speech was organized to address key issues, noting successes and failures.

While speaking on economics Romanoff lauded the bipartisan effort behind Referendum C, and said that promises to voters had been kept with funding for early and higher education.

Romanoff said that the only thing that wasn’t accomplished was a rainy day fund, to save state money.

“That’s the first promise I believe we should keep in 2007,” he said.

When talking about healthcare, the Speaker acknowledged Senate Bill 208, which has established a Blue Ribbon Commission to examine health care reform. Romanoff also stated that the legislature should look into making prescription drugs more affordable, and improve access to an HPV vaccine, which protects women against cervical cancer.

Renewable energy was a topic on it’s own in the speech. Romanoff said that the issue was “not red or blue,” but green.  “That’s the color of the new energy economy,” he said.

The Speaker expanded on the goal to make 20% of the state’s energy come from renewable sources, and said that there were over a dozen bills that will be introduced on the issue.

Romanoff ended on fiscal solvency, noting that the “rules of mathematics” will apply to every member of the legislature. “I’m going to ask you to forget the aisle that divides us,” he said.

Minority Leader Mike May

May started by acknowledging challenges, and said that lawmakers were “likely to disagree or have different solutions to those problems.”

Despite this, the Minority Leader spoke in favor of bipartisanship.

May also cautioned the use of tax dollars, and mentioned the multi-trillion dollar federal deficit as an example.

“Government is not the answer to every problem,” he said, before quoting former President Ronald Reagan.

On health care, May agreed that there was a lot that had to be done, but said Coloradans couldn’t wait on studies or commissions to fix the problem. Instead, the Minority Leader voiced support for “building upon the free market infrastructure,” rather than changing laws that effect businesses.

When speaking on renewable energy, May said that lawmakers must regulate with incentives, and without government “mandates.”

The Minority Speaker then praised former Governor Bill Owens for the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) tests and commented on a need to “push for accountability in our schools.”

Before ending his speech, May said that the “GOP was committed to respecting Amendment 41,” a constitutional measure that regulates gifts to public officials.

He then called for transparency in government, and spoke or regulating 527 political organizations.

And In The Senate

Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D-Coal Creek) also cited the effort to increase renewable energy as one of her top priorities. She will be appointing a select committee on the state’s energy future. Look for freshman Senator Chris Romer (D-Denver) to lead the effort.

On the other hand, Fitz-Gerald told her colleagues that they must “practice extreme fiscal discipline.”

Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany (R-Colorado Springs) outlined a host of proposals his party is planning, including asking voters to put statutes guaranteeing transportation funding into the state Constitution.

Sandra Fish contributed to this report.

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About the Author

Erin Rosa

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature.

Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state.

Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters.

She can be reached at erosa@coloradoindependent.com.

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