Today marks Day 3 of the Colorado Legislature, which convened on Wednesday amid plenty of excitement as new lawmakers were sworn in and the social calendar kicked off.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams mingled with senators and representatives and their families before the opening ceremonies Wednesday.
When he met incoming Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, he realized he knew the lawmaker’s dad. Tom Kennedy and Williams both practiced law at the same time in Colorado Springs.
Williams on Thursday attended Gov. John Hickenlooper’s seventh State of the State speech.
“We have 725 days left together, and as the late, great, Muhammad Ali said, ‘Don’t count the days, make the days count,'” Hickenlooper said.
I loved covering the Colorado legislature, first for the Rocky Mountain News and then for The Denver Post (except for some of those hearings or debates that never seemed to end).
My first session was in 2000 where the hottest committee was House Finance. Every lawmaker, it seemed, had an idea of how to cut taxes to reduce that billion-dollar surplus. Yes, billion with a B. Such heady times, followed by such hard times.
Eventually the excitement of the opening days leads to exhaustion, frustration and drama.
“Often referred to as Gold Dome High School, the Capitol is a petri dish for hurt feelings, dust-ups and behavior lawmakers often regret,” I wrote in 2011, after the latest blow up.
When May finally rolls around, there’s relief and a tinge of sadness. That building really is so special, the people who work there — the lawmakers, the lobbyists, the staff, the janitors, the reporters — they all make it hum.
For now, though, there’s so much joy, especially for the newbies and the “Pinch me” looks on their excited faces.
At the Colorado Women’s Legislative Caucus Thursday night, former, veteran and new lawmakers — men and women — mingled and talk about the importance of getting to know each other outside the Capitol. The co-directors of the group are former House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument, and former Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora.
There was some talk about Hickenlooper’s speech earlier that day, but most of the night was just a friendly get-together.
During the speech, Williams for the second year in a row stood and clapped as the governor talked about roads. When Williams served as an El Paso County commissioner, he served on the Colorado State Transportation Advisory Committee.
“Over the next decade, Colorado has $9 billion dollars of unmet transportation needs, and that need will only grow. Voters are tired of us kicking the can down the road, because they know it’s going to land in a pothole,” Hickenlooper said.
“In our neighboring state of Utah, infrastructure investment is a priority. Utah has about half as many people as Colorado but invests four times what we do to expand their road capacity every year. It’s economics 101: smart investments in infrastructure create jobs and strengthen the economy.”
Williams is optimistic.
“As someone who drives from Colorado Springs to Denver almost every day, and who has driven to all 64 counties, it’s clear Colorado needs to address our transportation,” the secretary said. “I’m hopeful that the governor and the legislature can work together to address these needs.”
Williams will around the Capitol plenty during the session, testifying on a variety of bills.