Capitol Conversation: Republicans Flex New Senate Majority Status

January 26, 2015
Statehouse reporter Bente BirkelandCredit D. Utterback
Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland

Colorado’s new Republican Senate majority flexed their muscles last week at the state capitol. They used their power on the joint budget committee to defund a 2013 law allowing people in the country illegally to obtain a state driver’s license. They also struck down a bill to harmonize Colorado’s civil unions law with a gay marriage ban that was deemed unconstitutional by the 10th circuit court of appeals. They also struck down a commission looking pay equity between men and women.

With split legislative control and Democrats in charge of the House, how will this impact both parties politically?

Bente Birkeland asked statehouse reporters Lynn Bartels with the Denver Post and Peter Marcus with the Durango Herald to analyze the events.

On Driver’s Licenses for People in the Country illegally

Peter Marcus of the Durango HeraldCredit Bente Birkeland / RMCR
Peter Marcus of the Durango Herald

Peter Marcus- Durango Herald

“The pomp and circumstance at the start of session quickly faded. And all the talk of bipartisanship faded and the immigrant driver’s license issue it a great example. What we’re talking about money that is there. It’s a self sustaining program that’s paid for by fees from applicants. So really all [Republicans] had to do was authorize the money for a bill that was already on the books. So Democrats were particularly upset about this.”

Lynn Bartels- Denver Post

“What you’re going to see if you look at the House calendar in the next coming weeks, the House controlled by Democrats, the Senate by Republicans, is Republicans have bills up in the House that are going to die…I think you’re going to see some killing fields here on one side or the other. You wonder what’s going to be left to send to the Governor.”

Political Consequences

Peter Marcus- Durango Herald

“Everything the Republicans did, really didn’t play into the middle class narrative Democrats are trying to push. So looking at 2016, major elections coming. Democrats are definitely going to be able to use some of these votes as ammunition to say Republicans aren’t in touch with what Americans want.”

Lynn Bartels of the Denver PostCredit Bente Birkeland / RMCR
Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post

Lynn Bartels- Denver Post

“In fact somebody said to me wow, the Senate Republicans in a single day managed to upset immigrants, women, and gays, this is great.”