Throughout the 2014 session, Representative Landgraf will be writing a column that appears in the local El Paso County and Fountain Valley Newspaper. Below is the most recent column. Columns from previous weeks can be found here.
Bipartisan Collaboration or Majority Heavy Handedness - January 15, 2014
Last Wednesday, January 8th, year 2 of the 69th Legislative Session started with a bang. The bang of the gavel as Speaker Ferrandino tried to get everyone to take their seats and pay attention. It started with beautiful song, the posting of the colors and children leading the pledge of allegiance. All the usual pomp and ceremony. Then came the speeches. Speaker Ferrandino introduced and thanked all the first responders who worked so tirelessly during the fires this summer as well as those who were then called into action during the flooding. He recognized the parents of a fallen soldier who died on a training mission and the wife and family of Tom Clements who was murdered last year. There were many of these heart felt and well deserved accolades for people who had in one way or another given so much to our state over the last year.
There was much standing and clapping.
Then Speaker Ferrandino got down to business as he rolled out the majority parties agenda. Protecting our environment (more jobs lost), funding for education (another tax hike? Or robbing another program to pay for education?) more money for higher ed. (with an increase in tuition) and of course, jobs, jobs, jobs! At times we clapped- he mentioned Jim Wilson’s transparency in education spending bill as well as others that will receive bipartisan support- and at times we sat quietly thinking “there goes Colorado…again”. He did not harken back to last year’s slate of over 600 bills. One wonders if he hoped Coloradans would forget.
Of course there was the usual call for bipartisan collaboration. We should all play nice together and we will accomplish much. A nice, collegial feeling that lasted about 5 minutes until Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso took the mike. And started talking about last year. Over 300 mining jobs already lost due to over regulation, the dramatic increase in utility bills due to SB 252 (alternative fuel mandates), more jobs lost due to the magpol bill. The heavy handed way they brought what ended up being Amendment 66, putting an issue on the ballot that not one Republican voted for! And on and on. To say the other side sat quietly would be an understatement. Of course it’s hard to hear that some of your policies damaged our state. Even Leader DelGrosso got some applause from the other side when he asked that $100 million already existing monies (no tax increase) be dedicated to roads and bridges. Then he talked about our bills on education reform. And he did talk about the need to be collaborative.
In all opening day was pretty much as expected. In the long run it’s all about the numbers. There are 65 state legislators. Of those 37 are Democrats and 28 are Republicans. Each side can talk about bipartisanship and collaboration. Of course collaboration goes both ways. It’s a give and take, not a take and take. One thing is for sure. A bad bill on the side with the most people will go through just as fast as a good bill on the other will be killed. It’s all about the numbers.
At this time I have what I think are 4 good bills that I want to see passed and I hope they are bi-partisan. My first bill, HB14-1037 “CONCERNING ENFORCEMENT OF LAWS AGAINST DESIGNER DRUGS” will be heard in the Judiciary committee on January 23. It’s being followed closely by the media which I hope will help it pass. I will keep you posted.