Legislators’ Report Card: Colorado’s Least Effective Senators

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

If there was ever a straw poll on the likelihood of socially conservative bills becoming law during the 2007 legislative session, Colorado Confidential has the goods in its ranking of the least effective state senators.

Our list is a veritable “Who’s Who” of the state’s ideologically hard right Republican lawmakers.

Among the group of 10 least effective senators, they sponsored 45 bills and co-sponsored another 36; Gov. Bill Ritter signed slightly less than half of them.

In terms of work ethic, the most effective senators carried twice as many sponsored bills. However, the comparison of co-sponsored bills by their top colleagues and this group was an astounding 5:1. Thus, one reason for the wide point differences earned between the two groups – it was simply the sheer number of bills introduced and passed.

While many Republicans are described champions of “smaller government” and prefer fewer laws, Sen. Minority Leader Andy McElhany was the Senate sponsor of an odd bill to create a state database for registered interior designers. Who knew people were running around willy-nilly perpetrating home fashion distasters on unsuspecting clients? It met a swift death by veto pen and earned him negative points.

The remaining results are fairly consistent with our mid-term results.  Senators from the Colorado Springs area, south Denver Metro, and the Eastern Plains completely dominated the bottom 10 rankings.

One very significant trend to watch in the next election cycle is that the least effective lawmakers include the entire Senate Republican leadership (McElhany, May and Spence) and four prominent members of the GOP senate freshmen class (Kopp, Renfroe, Harvey, and Schultheis, of which the latter two are experienced lawmakers from the House).

With respect to individual legislators, Sen. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) easily edged out his colleagues in the bottom dweller category with negative 4 points. None of his bills – either sponsored or co-sponsored – made it out of committee.

Of particular note in the individual scoring are two bills sponsored by Sen. Tom Wiens (R-Castle Rock) who also came up empty on getting his three bills moved through the chamber. One was postponed indefinitely in committee. The other two successfully passed the Senate floor but were defeated in the House. As the primary sponsor, however, his point total still gets dinged for failing to get the bills signed.

And it’s bi-partisanship and bicameralism that are among the most important skills that distinguishes state capitol effectiveness.

The “Ten Least Effective House Members” will be posted later this afternoon. Watch for continuing coverage of our end-of-session legislative scorecard.

Comments are closed.