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.

Read moreSecretary Williams mingles with lawmakers on opening day

Secretary Williams visits Fremont County for clerks’ meeting

Secretary of State Wayne Williams is flanked by Fremont County’s chief deputy clerk, Dotty Gardunio, and Clerk Katie Barr. The Fremont County clerk’s office is hosting a regional clerks meeting. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited scenic, friendly Fremont County twice in two days as county clerks in the southern region are meeting in Cañon City.

Williams addressed the clerks Wednesday morning, answering questions, fielding compliments and talking about how new ballot measures voters passed in 2016 will impact their operations.

“Some of you are wondering will there be an issue on the ballot this November. Why might you care?” Williams asked, and then explained that if a statewide issue is on the ballot then counties get reimbursed from the state some of the costs of running an election.

One proposal going through the legislature would ask voters in November to decide on a sales tax increase to help fix Colorado’s roads. It is sponsored by Cañon City’s own Kevin Grantham, the Senate president and a Republican, and House Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat. The first committee hearing on their proposal, House Bill 1242, is being held today at the state capitol.

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Secretary of State Wayne Williams inspires Inspire Colorado

Secretary of State Wayne Williams with four of the students who attended the Inspire Colorado event Monday night at History Colorado. From left to right: Robin Peterson, 17, Peak to Peak charter school; Torey Wyman, 17, and Tatum Wallis, 16, South High School; and Lila Jordan, 16, Denver School of Science and Technology, Cole campus. (SOS photo)
Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne. (SOS photo)

Should 16-year-olds be allowed to vote? What is Colorado doing about climate change? What do you see as the top priorities in government?

Those are some the issues that arose Monday night when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and four state lawmakers talked to a crowd of teen-agers at Inspire Colorado’s youth engagement forum about the importance of voting and being involved.

Inspire Colorado is a student-driven program that focuses on leadership, democracy and community. The students have encouraged their high school peers to register to vote, and others to participate in elections.

Lynne noted that she’s 63 and has never missed voting in an election. She brought up the discussion about 16-year-olds voting, after earlier being asked by a high school journalist if she supported the move.

And she also noted that a number of the participants at History Colorado were female.

“Wayne, what are we going to do about that?” she asked. The secretary of state, the father of two daughters, was cheered when he responded, “Celebrate it!”

Read moreSecretary of State Wayne Williams inspires Inspire Colorado

And another era begins at the Colorado General Assembly

Four of the new House Democrats elected on Tuesday gather at the state Capitol Thursday for a caucus meeting and leadership election. From left to right: Matt Gray of Broomfield, Don Sanchez of xxx and Chris Kennedy of Lakewood. (SOS photo)
Four of the new House Democrats elected on Tuesday gather at the state Capitol Thursday for a caucus meeting and leadership election. From left to right: Matt Gray of Broomfield, Donald Valdez of La Jara, Edie Hooten of Boulder and Chris Kennedy of Lakewood. (SOS photo)

For the second election in a row, an Adams County Republican has given the party control of the state Senate.

There were plenty of handshakes and hugs Thursday at the state Capitol when Kevin Priola of Henderson showed up. Priola, a state representative, defeated Democrat Jenise May, a former state representative, 52 percent to 47 percent in unofficial returns.

Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton and Sen.-elect Kevin Priola of Henderson. The two Adams County Republicans helped their party take the majority in the state Senate. (SOS photo)
Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton and Sen.-elect Kevin Priola of Henderson. The two Adams County Republicans helped their party take the majority in the state Senate. (SOS photo)

This is always a fascinating time under the Gold Dome. Two days after the general election, returning members and the freshly elected show up to pick caucus leaders, schmooze, celebrate and console.

It’s a disappointing day for the losing side. House Republicans saw three incumbents defeated, and Democrats next year will have a 37-28 majority. Senate Democrats are again in the minority and again by one seat, 18-17.

House Republicans chose one of the more conservative members of the caucus, Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, as minority leader. It’s not a term Neville embraces.

“I’m the Republican leader,”  he said.

Read moreAnd another era begins at the Colorado General Assembly

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