Colorado Lawmakers Select Their Leadership

Originally published on November 12, 2018 1:10 pm

Democrats and Republicans didn’t waste any time choosing new leaders for the upcoming legislative session in Colorado.

It felt almost like a lively and cheerful family reunion when the growing Democratic House majority gathered in the Old State Library Thursday afternoon to promote KC Becker of Boulder to the position of House Speaker.

As more election results favoring House Democrats trickled in during the day, the cheers and applause grew louder.

Democrats who are taking control of the State Senate named Leroy Garcia of Pueblo as Senate President.

Here are two takeaways from yesterday’s leadership elections:

Lawmakers aren’t done addressing their workplace culture

In his first speech as Senate President-elect, Garcia called for higher standards at the Capitol.

And at a press conference after the leadership elections, he said he doesn’t think the Senate is finished responding to harassment allegations like the ones that were leveled last session against Republican Senator Randy Baumgardner.

Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, was accused of grabbing and slapping the buttocks of a legislative aide on four occasions during the 2016 legislative session. He has denied wrongdoing. And a vote to expel him failed last session largely on party lines.

“It’s never really been resolved,” Garcia said.

He went on to say he thought the General Assembly still has “got some cleaning up and things to do here.”

The upcoming shift of power to Democrats in the Senate had some reporters wondering whether lawmakers will revisit Baumgardner’s fate.

When he was pressed on whether he thought there would be another vote called to expel Baumgardner in January, Garcia said he didn’t know.

“I have not heard that directly (from my colleagues), so I think that remains unknown,” he said.

Garcia’s comments came on the same day a bipartisan group of lawmakers approved new workplace harassment policies they hope will improve the culture at the Capitol.

No early pledges on oil and gas legislation

Voters rejected a plan to force new oil and gas drilling in the state further from homes, schools and hospitals. And so far, Democratic leaders at the Capitol aren’t calling for any new legislation that would take up that issue again.

After the leadership elections, Garcia was peppered with questions from reporters about whether he personally supports new setbacks.

But he avoided giving a yes or no answer.

He took a long pause after the question. He said he’s open to seeing whatever legislation his colleagues would bring on the issue.

Jared Polis, the state’s incoming Democratic governor, also was non-committal when asked about oil and gas policy this week during an interview with 9News.

Colorado legislature leadership positions

Senate Democrats

President: Leroy Garcia, Pueblo

President Pro-Tem: Lois Court, Denver

Majority Leader: Stephen Fenberg, Boulder

Whip: Kerry Donovan, Vail

Caucus Chair: Faith Winter, Westminster

Senate Republicans

Minority Leader: Chris Holbert, Parker

Assistant Minority Leader: John Cooke, Greeley

Minority Whip: Ray Scott, Grand Junction

Caucus Chair: Vicki Marble, Fort Collins

House Democrats

Speaker: KC Becker, Boulder

Majority Leader: Alec Garnett, Denver

Assistant Majority Leader: Chris Kennedy, Lakewood

Caucus Chair: Edie Hooton, Boulder

Whips: James Coleman, Denver, and Jeff Bridges, Greenwood Village

House Republicans

Minority Leader: Patrick Neville, Castle Rock

Asst. Minority Leader: Kevin Van Winkle, Highlands Ranch

Minority Whip: Perry Buck, Windsor

Caucus Chair: Lori Saine, Firestone

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