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

Colorado Common Cause hands out awards, lauds bi-partisanship

Chris Kennedy, who is running for a House seat from Lakewood, attorney Martha Tierney and Sen. Jack Tate at a Common Cause event lunch Thursday. (SOS photo)
Chris Kennedy, who is running for a House seat from Lakewood, attorney Martha Tierney and Sen. Jack Tate at a Common Cause event lunch Thursday. (SOS photo)

The invite from attorney Martha Tierney took me by surprise: “Friend, I would be delighted if you would join me at my table in support of Colorado Common Cause for a Champions for Democracy luncheon and fundraiser.”

As a journalist, I tangled over the years with Tierney and Common Cause on several issues, including Amendment 41, the ethics measure that is less than crystal clear, and ballot proposals that limited campaign-finance donations, which critics said just drove the money underground.

And so I e-mailed Tierney, the attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, to say that if I had been put on that list by mistake I totally understood. To my surprise, she actually had invited me.

The program for Colorado Cause's lunch today.
The program for Colorado Cause’s lunch today.
The event Thursday at the Denver Consistory was a reminder of the good work Common Cause does do.

“As many of you know who have been longtime supporters of Common Cause, our first campaign in the 1970s was working to pass the Sunshine Law,” said Elena Nuñez, the executive director of the group.

Nuñez lauded Republican Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams for convening a group to study how the state’s open records laws can be updated to reflect strides in technology. An open-records bill introduced in the 2016 died after stakeholders said it was flawed.

“And that’s one of the keys to our success, we’re able to work with our partners, even when we don’t initially agree, to find common ground,” she said. “Working together we’ve made great strides to reclaim our democracy and we have great opportunities ahead with your support we can work toward a government that truly is of, by, and for the people.”

Read moreColorado Common Cause hands out awards, lauds bi-partisanship

Gov. Hickenlooper signs bill dealing with school board race spending

Gov. John HIckenlooper signs House Bill 1282 dealing with school board race campaign spending into law Wednesday afternoon. Among those present, from left to right, Secretary of State staffer Melissa Polk, Steamboat Springs school board member Roger Good, Elena Nunez of Common Cause, former SOS intern Lizzie Stephani, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, Sen. Nancy Todd, SOS staffer Steve Bouey, Sen. Jack Tate, Reps. Brittany Pettersen and KC Becker, SOS staffer Tim Griesmer and Jeffco parent Shawna Fritzler. (SOS photo)
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday signs into law House Bill 1282, which deals with school board race campaign spending. Among those present, from left to right, Secretary of State staffer Melissa Polk, Steamboat Springs school board member Roger Good, Elena Nunez of Common Cause, former SOS intern Lizzie Stephani, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, Sen. Nancy Todd, SOS staffer Steve Bouey, Sen. Jack Tate, Reps. Brittany Pettersen and KC Becker, SOS staffer Tim Griesmer and Jeffco parent Shawna Fritzler. (SOS photo)

A Steamboat Springs school board member frustrated that he couldn’t find out until after an election how much outside groups poured into to elect their favorite board candidates watched Wednesday as Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an accountability bill into law.

Roger Good testified on behalf of House Bill 1282 at a Senate committee hearing — he would have been at the House hearing, too, he said, but he was out of state.

“I wanted to be a voice for rural Colorado,” Good said after the bill signing.

House Bill 1282 bill requires the disclosure of independent expenditures of more than $1,000 within 60 days prior to the election. It also requires disclosure of spending on advertisements, billboards and direct mailings. It does not deal with individual donations to candidates; a bill to limit those contributions died.

Currently, information about independent expenditures in school board races has to be filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office quarterly, including a report on Oct. 15 before the November election. But the next report doesn’t  have to be filed until Jan. 15 of the following year, allowing donations throughout October and early November to be kept quiet until after the election.

That’s why Good got involved.

“Anyone should be able to give whatever they want to any candidate they want, but it’s in the public’s best interest to know who’s giving,” Good told his hometown paper, the Steamboat Springs Pilot & Today, on Wednesday.

Read moreGov. Hickenlooper signs bill dealing with school board race spending