The Gravy Has Not Adjourned Early

Sigh. No more legislative session, and no big political races to discuss. What’s a boy to write about?


The Colorado legislature adjourned on Friday, several days earlier than scheduled, and Colorado Confidential’s Erin Rosa, Kerri Rebresh and Wendy Norris followed the final day.

Lynn Bartels, April Washington and Alan Gathright of the Rocky Mountain News hand out the awards. There’s too many to pick and choose from, so check the link to read for yourself. The Denver Post also takes a look back at the session that was, and the Post editorial board is complimentary in its assessment:

The legislative session that ended Friday was the first in more than 40 years in which Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office. It was a delicate balancing act as the legislative and executive branches tested their newfound powers. By the close of the session, relations remained cordial but less than cozy.

And perhaps that’s as it should be.

Overall, state lawmakers made impressive headway on three key aspects of Gov. Bill Ritter’s agenda: expanding health coverage, providing more money for education and revitalizing the economy, especially by focusing on developing renewable energy sources.

Legislators also passed other key bills, including a measure that Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, called “historic,” to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in Colorado. Intermittent efforts had been made since 1975 to include sexual orientation in state employment law.

Also noteworthy was the passage of five bills to address mortgage and appraisal fraud. The legislation couldn’t have come at a better time, given that Colorado had the highest foreclosure rate in the country for most of last year and has ranked among the top states for mortgage fraud for the past two years.

Throughout the session, Ritter reached out to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Republicans and Democrats had their disagreements, like transportation funding, but they found common ground on a range of issues such as water policy and consumer loans…

…It was a productive session for the General Assembly and the new governor.

The News also surveyed the governor and lawmakers from both parties and asked them to list the bills they are most proud of.

Not to be outdone, The Bell Policy Center sent out a press release listing its own highlights of the session:

The Colorado Legislature and Gov. Bill Ritter worked together this year to pass dozens of bills that improve the state of opportunity for thousands of Coloradans, says Wade Buchanan, president of the Bell Policy Center.

“The 2007 session will be remembered as a strong push for opportunity,” Buchanan said. “Legislators worked hard to pass bills that prepare our kids to compete in the global economy and help families join and stay in the middle class.”…

… “Overall, 2007 was a productive session that opened the door to opportunity for more Coloradans. There’s still some unfinished business we’ll continue to push for next year,” said Buchanan.

The Bell Policy Center will publish a more detailed summary of how opportunity-related bills fared in the 2007 session in an early edition of its free e-newsletter, The Opportunity News, to be released next week. It compares the session’s accomplishments with the agenda laid out last year in the Bell’s Blueprint for Opportunity document.

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In the final day of the legislative session, a veto by the governor was overturned for the first time in nearly 20 years. As April Washington and Alan Gathright of the Rocky Mountain News explain:

Lawmakers on Friday overrode Gov. Bill Ritter’s veto of their spending plan for next year’s budget. It marks the first veto override in almost two decades. It also sets the stage for a constitutional turf war.

Lawmakers argued that they have a constitutional duty to defend their right to set the state’s $17.8 billion spending plan and decide how to spend it.

“It’s a separation-of-powers issue,” said Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver. “The legislature has the power of the purse.

“We decide how much money goes to each department. We’re framing the issue for a court case,” he added. Following the lead of previous governors, Ritter vetoed 88 “headnotes” and “footnotes” – lawmakers’ budget instructions…

…The last time lawmakers overrode a veto was in 1988. That year, lawmakers passed a bill to use lottery funds for correctional facilities over the objections of then-Gov. Roy Romer.

Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, maintained Ritter made the same mistake in his first year in office that Owens did: He vetoed bills without first giving the sponsors a heads up. McElhany said Owens caused a lot of “hard feelings,” and Ritter has done the same.

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Jeri Clausing of The Denver Post reports that Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald is still considering whether to resign her leadership post – something Colorado Confidential first reported on Thursday.

Clausing also notes that state Sen. Brandon Shaffer is taking a serious look at running for congress in CD-4:

Fitz-Gerald is not the only state senator looking at a potential congressional run.

Standing with her last week at a podium for Gov. Bill Ritter’s signing of a law seeking to prevent the Army from taking more southeastern Colorado ranchland was Sen. Brandon Shaffer.

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Jason Bane

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