Eat, drink and make merry with the Colorado Restaurant Association

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, and Grand Junction Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night. (SOS photo)

When I covered the legislature for the Rocky Mountain News the editors loved it that the Colorado Restaurant Association’s reception occurred on opening day, meaning I actually made deadline so I could dash over to the event that night.

My first Blue Ribbon reception was in 2000 and one of the first lawmakers I talked to was Rep. Marcy Morrison, a Republican from Manitou Springs. Where’s that? I asked. She explained it was west of Colorado Springs and I remember thinking, “El Paso County! She must be really conservative!” Talk of an example of why stereotypes don’t work.

These days I don’t have to worry about deadlines, but I still can’t wait for the legislature’s opening day and the best legislative reception of the year. My tweet from last night’s Blue Ribbon reception:

Read moreEat, drink and make merry with the Colorado Restaurant Association

Here’s to you, Bill Artist

Senate President Bill Cadman, House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst and lobbyist Bill Artist at the Colorado Restaurant Association's Blue Ribbon Reception on Wednesday.
Senate President Bill Cadman, House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst and lobbyist Bill Artist at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception on Wednesday.

Lawmakers lauded and lampooned lobbyist Bill Artist Wednesday night at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s annual Blue Ribbon Reception.

Artist is the longtime lobbyist for the group, which hosts a party on opening day of the Colorado General Assembly.

“The association was formed in 1933. They hired Bill Artist to get rid of Prohibition and it worked. You’ve been lobbying us ever since,” joked Senate President Bill Cadman.

Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, said lawmakers appreciate Artist, his team and the Colorado Restaurant Association. As someone whose job keeps him from going home on a regular basis, Cadman said he has yet to cook at his place in Denver. That, he said, means he is continually supporting the restaurant industry, which has supported him during his nearly 16 years in office.

Cadman singled out Artist during his remarks welcoming those to the event. House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Boulder Democrat, joined in.

“I don’t want to do a one up on the president — so early in the session,” she said.

But the speaker noted she has known Artist  since she was a lobbyist trying to get her bills passed and Artist was a Republican lawmaker.  Artist served three terms in the state House and then founded J. William Artists & Associates in 1986. His daughter Lacee now lobbies with him.

“Now it’s nice to have him as the lobbyist and I’m the lawmaker,” she said.

Eat, drink and be merry, courtesy of the Colorado Restaurant Association

Senate President Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, and House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, at the Colorado Restaurant Association's Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night.
Senate President Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, and House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night.

The Colorado Restaurant Association hosts one of the best legislative receptions of the year, held opening night when lawmakers are filled with optimism and still humming “Kumbaya.”

“This is a great tradition at the Colorado General Assembly,” said House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Boulder Democrat.

“It’s a wonderful gathering. We’re all very excited about starting a new session and it’s always a good time to talk and have a drink with our friends on the other side of the aisle.”

The session opened Wednesday and by law must adjourn in May. The reception was held at the Colorado History Museum.

The Colorado Restaurant Association uses the event to inform lawmakers and reporters about the importance of their industry to state coffers. A variety of restaurants offered small plate samples of tacos, salmon and more.

Read moreEat, drink and be merry, courtesy of the Colorado Restaurant Association