Legislators’ Report Card: Colorado’s Top 10 Senators

A team report by Kerri Rebresh, Sandra Fish and Wendy Norris.

How effective is your state senator at getting bills through the legislature and signed by the governor? As part of our end-of-session report card for lawmakers, Colorado Confidential brings you the 10 most effective senators:

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OK, so with Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, and Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, tied for third, there are actually 11 senators on our top 10 list. And with the Democrats as the majority party in the senate, it’s no big surprise that our list is full of them. Republicans, of course, had more of a challenge in getting their bills through committees and the floor of each chamber.

Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, leads the pack with a whopping 112 points. However, Shaffer largely scored so highly because he sponsored 15 bills – more than any other senator. It’s important to note that sponsoring a stack of bills is not necessarily a good thing, as House Speaker Andrew Romanoff has argued. Our calculations show not that Shaffer is the best senator or the most powerful, only that he has had the most bills wind up with Gov. Ritter’s signature.

Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, landed in second place with 90 points, but it could be argued she was actually more successful in getting her bills through the legislature. Schwartz and Shaffer both had 11 bills signed by the governor, but Schwartz’ success rate was 100 percent – every bill she sponsored is now, or will be, law. Shaffer still scored higher because of his penchant for co-sponsoring bills. He was the primary co-sponsor on 21 bills, while Schwartz co-sponsored a modest nine bills.

Boyd and Isgar were also very successful at getting their bills passed. Almost every bill either senator sponsored or co-sponsored ended up getting the governor’s signature.

A few of the senators on our list were not very successful with their own bills, but were such avid co-sponsors that they scored high enough for the top 10. For instance, Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, saw only four of her 10 bills get signed. But the “Queen of the Co-Sponsors”  helped 22 of the 29 House bills she sponsored get passed. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, also drew most of his points as a co-sponsor.

Check back Monday afternoon for a look at the 10 most successful legislators in the House, on Tuesday for our list of the 10 least successful lawmakers in each chamber and throughout the week for continuing coverage of our end-of-session legislative scorecard.

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Kerri Rebresh

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