Colorado politicians look upward for that total eclipse of the sun

Four state Senate Republicans walked outside the state Capitol in Denver to observe Monday’s eclipse. They are Ray Scott of Grand Junction, Kevin Grantham of Cañon City, Don Coram of Montrose and Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling. Denver’s City-County Building is in the background. (Photo by Sean Paige/Colorado Senate GOP)

The 2017 eclipse has come and gone, but the pictures are forever — and thank goodness for that because some are spectacular.

In my book, winner-winner chicken dinner of political photos goes to Sean Paige, spokesman for the Colorado Senate Republicans, who got an amazing shot of four caucus members, including Senate President Kevin Grantham, looking into the sky with their special glasses.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and plenty of other elected officials, including county clerks and their staffs, got into the action, posting their photos on Facebook and Twitter. Colorado Politics’  Erin Prater put together a string of tweets and photos from various politicos. It’s a fun read.

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.

Read moreSecretary Williams visits Fremont County for clerks’ meeting

The Colorado legislature convenes …

Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, Tom and Laurie Kennedy of Colorado Springs, parents of Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)
Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, Tom and Laurie Kennedy of Colorado Springs, parents of Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

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.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, on opening day. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, on opening day. (SOS photo)

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.

Read moreThe Colorado legislature convenes …

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