Inaugurate This!

So the Broncos didn’t have a playoff game yesterday. Look on the bright side: They didn’t lose a playoff game yesterday. On to the Gravy…

We’re looking forward to the inauguration festivities tomorrow because we’re sick of writing “Gov-elect” Bill Ritter or “Secretary of State-elect” Mike Coffman. If you’re wondering what Ritter will be doing tomorrow morning, here’s a brief look at his schedule:

8 a.m.: Mass at Holy Ghost Church, 1900 California St., (Mass is open to the public but cameras are not allowed).

11 a.m.: Inaugural swearing-in ceremony, West Steps of the Capitol.

12:30 to 2 p.m.: Public reception and greeting line, Capitol rotunda.


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Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News writes that most of Ritter’s cabinet appointees have come from the metro area, but observers say that he picked an experienced team:

Veteran politicos say it’s good Ritter’s Cabinet will be experienced because the governor-elect’s only political experience comes from serving as Denver’s district attorney.

“It’s good he went with experience because he’s pretty naive in those treacherous state waters,” said former Denver City Councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt. “He’s like a tadpole.”

Ritter, a 50-year-old Democrat from Denver, will be sworn into office Tuesday. He still must fill three major Cabinet positions: Transportation; Revenue, which oversees the highly visible Motor Vehicle Division; and Local Government, which serves as a crucial link to rural Colorado.

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State Sen. Sue Windels and Rep. Mike Merrifield were scheduled to hold a “Chamber Chat” on education today at 11:00 a.m. in the Senate Chamber. Windels, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Merrifield, Chair of the House Education Committee, will discuss a number of education-related issues, including No Child Left Behind, Colorado’s possible participation in “Tough Choices, Tough Times”, a national pilot program aimed at education reform; and the state of higher education in Colorado.

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Colorado’s legislature convenes on Wednesday, and as The Denver Post notes, it will have more newcomers than any time since 1876:

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff says that while the freshman class will mean “fresher thinking and people less wedded to old ways,” there will also be a loss of institutional memory and “the glue that binds us.”
Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and President pro tem Peter Groff said that a steep learning curve and “feeling-out” period could slow the legislative process. But, added Romanoff: “We’re not complaining. We’re responsible for part of the turnover.”

The House will have 24 new members out of 65 (10 Democrats and 14 Republicans). The Senate will welcome three new Democrats and six new Republicans. Democrats have majorities in both chambers.

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The discussion over whether or not to clarify passages of Amendment 41 may be almost over, as the Rocky Mountain News writes in an editorial:

It was music to our ears Friday when state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff told us in a meeting at the News that the legislature has a duty to implement Amendment 41 as it was written.

An unremarkable assertion, you might think – but in fact it is not. The authors of Amendment 41 have consistently claimed that the measure need not mean what it clearly says (see the Speakout column in this section for a sophisticated version of this argument). They say the legislature can write an enabling law protecting the ability of government workers, their spouses and dependents from the immense problems created by banning their accepting any “gift or thing of value” worth more than $50 a year.

But such a ban is unfortunately what Amendment 41 imposes. Fitz-Gerald was particularly eloquent on the responsibility of voters to know what they’re supporting before they go to the polls. Now that Coloradans have passed this monstrosity, it’s up to the state to somehow live with it.

After all, as Fitz-Gerald also pointed out, the amendment itself says that although
“Legislation may be enacted to facilitate the operation of this article. . . in no way shall such legislation limit or restrict the provisions of this article.”

What part of the phrase “in no way” do those who want the legislature to carve out exceptions fail to understand?

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Roger Fillion of the Rocky Mountain News reports that a new Denver-based company has created a database to track legislation in every state:

Scott Yates and Peter Jones want to make work easier for lobbyists, lawmakers, political junkies and anybody who keeps tabs on bills meandering through a state legislature. The two are launching a Denver Internet company, LgDb, to allow users to track bills in all 50 states via one Web-based format rather than going to the individual Web sites of each state.

“We want people to have easy access to the legislation they’re looking for,” said Yates, CEO of LgDb, pronounced “Ledge-D-B.” The company’s Web site – www.LgDb.com – is set to be fully operational this month.

We don’t really see a need to know what Alaska is doing with their sea lions, but LgDb will include a cool feature that will allow users to search a topic like health care for similar legislation pending in other states.

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Jason Bane

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