Colorado’s 10 Least Successful Senators

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

It would be easy to chalk up the dismal lack of success in passing bills as an unfortunate consequence of minority party status. Following a thorough analysis of every bill introduced through the midway point of the 2007 legislative session, we’ve found that there’s far more to the story.

Among the 68 bill sponsored or co-sponsored by the 10 bottom-dwelling GOP Senators, 25% of them have been killed in their own committees. No bills have yet been signed by the governor.

More tellingly, though, is the warning sign that “Johnny doesn’t play well with others” – this group of lawmakers is reponsible for 12 of the 25 bills languishing without co-sponsors. When even your own party members in the opposing chamber won’t sign on to a bill, one has to wonder not only about the reasonableness of the proposed law but the reputation being cultivated by the senators themselves. At the end of the day, ineffective mavericks are still ineffective.

Greg Brophy (R-Wray) seems to be having a bit more success than the others by passing his three sponsored bills through committee and one, thus far, through the floor of the house.

Unfortunately, for the Republican party and the constituents of El Paso County, the Senate minority leaders are both among the least effective members.

A quick analysis of the 2004 and 2005 legislative sessions demonstrates a rather curious lack of success for Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany (R-Colorado Springs) with only two bills signed each year though he had a GOP governor in Bill Owens who, ostensibly, would look favorably on a fellow Republican’s bills.

Assistant Minority Leader Ron May (R-Colorado Springs) pushed through eight bills last session that were eventually signed by Gov. Owens. His productivity this year has slipped dramatically; with only two sponsored bills, and one already killed off in committee, it seems to warrant some additional investigation about how exactly he is spending his days at the capitol.

Of the 68 bills sponsored or co-sponsored by this group, 29 have been signed off by Democratic lawmakers. Just three senators – Steve Ward (R-Centennial), Tom Wiens (R-Sedalia) and Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley) – account for more than half of that bipartisan support by drawing Dems to their bills as co-sponsors.

On the other extreme, Ted Harvey (R-Parker) brought on 11 Republican co-sponsors for his bills (four of which have been killed in committee) and only one with a Democrat. The latter bill was to revise a current statute concerning increasing the membership of county sex offender management boards. It was signed into law by the governor, though after the midterm cut-off for this analysis and will be counted on our final legislative report card in June.

Like Brophy, Mike Kopp (R-Littleton) has only had to sweat the dreaded committee PI once among the four bills he has introduced. His bills appear to be getting stuck in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Only one, thus far, has moved to the House.

Then, there’s Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) who has a penchant for introducing divisive, socially conservative and religiously-tinged bills. All four of his own bills have been PI’d or postponed indefinitely.

Read the whole series to date:
Colorado’s Ten Most Successful Senators
Colorado’s Ten Most Successful Representatives
Pass/Fail: A Mid-Term Report Card of Colorado’s State Legislators