Secretary Williams mingles with lawmakers on opening day

Secretary of State Williams, who lives in Colorado Springs, posed with ROTC students from Mitchell High School in the Springs. The students presented the colors in the House on the opening day of the 2018 legislature. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams greeted lawmakers and other dignitaries today as the 2018 legislative session got underway.

“Opening day is a great Colorado tradition, and I enjoy talking to the lawmakers,” Williams said. “It’s always good to discuss how we can work together for Colorado and its citizens.”

Colorado Secretary of State and three House Democrats, Pete Lee of Colorado Springs, newly selected Dylan Roberts of Vail and Mike Weissmann of Aurora before the start of the session today. (SOS photo)

Williams made stops in the legislative leaders’ offices before heading to the House floor to mingle with Republicans and Democrats, meet new friends and greet old ones, including Tom Kennedy, the father of Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. Tom Kennedy and Williams practiced law at the same time in Colorado Springs.

Speaking of lawyering, at one point Williams and Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, were engaged in a lengthy conversation on the House floor.

“I never knew before, but Wayne used to practice at the law firm where I practice now,” Gray said. “We talked about how he used to practice with some of the people I still work with today.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is flanked by Republican Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs. (SOS photo)

Opening day is largely ceremonial, with family members present and plenty of food in the offices (thanks for the burrito, House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver).

How’s this for sweet? Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, sent flowers to Speaker Duran and to the Senate minority leader, Lucia Guzman, D-Denver.

Opening day is also a day for speeches.

“Our task over the next 120 days,” Duran said in her an opening day speech, “is to preserve and enhance our Colorado way of life, which is so different from the discord and dysfunction emanating from Washington D.C.”

She also addressed the recent sexual harassment allegations roiling the Capitol by calling on her fellow legislators to work to “reform the culture of the Capitol,” according to The Denver Post.

“The hurdles of harassment and discrimination faced by women, people of color and people with disabilities should have been leveled a long time ago,” she said. “Let our actions show that the intolerable will be tolerated no more.”

Williams walked in on Grantham practicing his speech before the 10 a.m. start of the legislature.

Joey Bunch, a reporter with the Colorado Springs Gazette, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams before the start of the session today.

Grantham told the chamber that despite split control over the legislature in 2016 and 2017, much was accomplished, as The Denver Post reported.

“The majority of the bills that made it to the floor passed both houses, and with bipartisan support. When everyone said we couldn’t accomplish construction defects reform — we did it! When no one believed that we could pass a bill equalizing charter school funding — we did it! We’ve done the tough work before — let us recommit ourselves to doing it again.”

He also addressed the hot-button issue of transportation.

“There isn’t a Republican or Democrat way to fill a pothole, but I’d argue there is a Colorado way, and that’s if we do it together,” Grantham said. “Today, let us commit ourselves to maintaining and building the roads of Colorado. These roads, albeit not flashy, and often taken for granted, are Colorado’s veins, allowing the lifeblood of our State, our people, and the economy they support, to travel efficiently and affordably.”

Williams could not agree more. He commutes from Colorado Springs and often takes pictures of his speedometer, stuck on 0, while he idles on Interstate 25.

Lawmakers have 120 days to figure it all out.