DENVER– It’s opening day for the state legislature, the first day of the second session of the 69th General Assembly. Lawmakers are still stinging from the highly contentious 2013 session, where angry debate over gun-control bills dominated, ratcheting up partisanship and setting the stage for recall elections that ousted two Democratic lawmakers last summer and a move by a bloc of rural counties in the state to explore secession.
Democrats still control all branches of government, although they hold the majority in the Senate by just one seat. Capitol observers say they expect majority party members to try to set a moderate tone and push proposals that might attract minority member support. But it’s an election year and the Republican caucuses have been energized by the successful recall elections that galvanized conservative voters in the state. Five Republican lawmakers are running for higher office. Senators Randy Baumgardner and Owen Hill and Representative Amy Stephens are running for the U.S. Senate. Senator Greg Brophy is running for governor. And Representative Mark Waller is running to be attorney general.
There’s also already some leadership history being made. Senator Morgan Carroll is only the second woman named Senate president. And for the first time two leaders — House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and Senate President Pro-Tem Lucia Guzman — are openly gay.
We’ll be filing dispatches from the capitol all day.
[ Denver’s recently under renovation and always topsy-turvy gold dome by Amy the Nurse. ]