The 2012 state legislature convened Wednesday. Leaders of both parties laid out their priorities for the next 119 days, and rehashed some old wounds. Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee was there.
There's a lot that goes on on opening day besides the speeches -- patriotic performances, prayers in different languages, and the regular business of the legislature. Listen here for a short audio portrait of the rest of the day.
Here's a transcript of Megan Verlee's report:
REPORTER MEGAN VERLEE: For a few seconds, House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino looked like he might make history with the shortest opening day speech ever.
FERRANDINO: Good morning Mr Speaker, Madam Majority leader, fellow members. This session, House Democrats will have a laser-like focus on job creation. Thank you.
REPORTER: Okay, so the Democratic lawmaker didn’t give up the podium quite that easily, but he did sum up what everyone here says is their priority. Both parties have rolled out jobs packages in recent weeks, reflecting their different philosophies of government. Democrats are offering bills which use small amounts of state money to help entrepreneurs get new companies off the ground. Republicans, like House Speaker Frank McNulty, are taking a different approach.
MCNULTY: Burdensome government regulations and blind restrictions have a stranglehold on Colorado’s path to economic recovery. We’ve heard the call for action, and today we’ll introduce a series of measures that will clear the way for Coloradans to succeed.
REPORTER: The Republican package includes measures that would reduce fines for small violations of state rules and lighten the overall regulatory load. So far, neither party seems to have found much support across the aisle. With Republicans holding just a one-seat edge in the house and elections looming, this is expected to be a tough session. But Minority leader Ferrandino urged his colleagues to defy those expectations.
FERRANDINO: One paper said the other day that everyone expects this session to be, and I quote, 'a massive partisan brawl.' Mr Speaker, I’ve heard you today. Together we can prove the pundits wrong.
REPORTER: In the Senate, though, opening day speeches hinted at what lawmakers will have to overcome to work together. Many Republicans are still angry about new state legislative maps that would have forced a number of their lawmakers to face off against each other in primaries. Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, a Republican, got emotional as he reminisced about bipartisan triumphs he’d shared with various Democratic lawmakers over the years.
CADMAN: ...Senator Carroll, I can’t even count the number of times that we’ve worked specifically to protect civil rights here...
REPORTER: ...before excoriating that side of the aisle over redistricting.
CADMAN: I think the failure of the redistricting process was greater than the loss of a vote. Our relationships failed, and that’s not a legacy we should leave.
REPORTER: Legacy was on the minds of many senators. Between redistricting and term limits, this is the final session for at least eight of them. They now have 119 days left to make their mark.