Wednesday may mark the beginning of the New Year for most people, but for Colorado’s lawmakers Jan. 1 begins the weeklong countdown to the next session of the Colorado General Assembly.
Following last year’s controversial session, which witnessed the passage of several controversial bills and, consequently, the recall of two Senate Democrats, conservative leaders said they plan to launch a counterstrike against gun control and renewable energy mandates passed in 2013.
House minority leader Brian DelGrosso last week told the Denver Post that Colorado House Republicans plan to introduce a bill that would reduce renewable energy mandates on Colorado electric cooperatives from 20 percent to 15 percent. A bill requiring electric cooperatives to up their renewable energy portfolios to 20 percent of capacity by 2020 passed last session.
District 8 Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, said in addition to addressing renewable energy mandates, he expects several bills to propose repealing or reworking controversial gun control laws, particularly the ban on high-capacity magazines. Although he thinks Senate Republicans will have an easier time bringing such proposals to the floor for debate, the chances of House Republicans doing the same are slimmer.
The Democrats have a slight 18-17 majority in the Colorado Senate, but they control the House by a wider 37-28 majority.
“It’s going to be an interesting year in the Senate because we’re going to have to get our legislation out of committee and onto the floor to be a factor,” Baumgardner said. “If some of these repeal bills make it to the floor of the Senate, I think a couple have a chance to pass.”
Colorado House District 61 Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, and other state Democrats fully expect Republicans to try to fight gun control legislation passed last year. Considering two of her party colleagues were ousted from office due to their gun control stance last session, Hamner said there may be a desire among Democrats to hear the Republicans out, even though she believes lawmakers passed good legislation a year ago.
“I think all of us are going to be looking for common-sense solutions and working with our colleagues from across the aisle,” Hamner said. “If things are proposed that make the bills we passed last year better, then I think it’s our job as legislators to build those collaborative relationships.
“I think that is what the people of Colorado expect from us.”
Although Hamner and her Democratic colleagues expect another gun control debate, they would prefer to look ahead to the future. As a former Summit School District superintendent, that means finding funding for public schools in the wake of Amendment 66’s failure in November.
Hamner plans to carry at least two education bills in the coming session — one that would implement parts of Amendment 66, as well as a school finance bill.
“The message from taxpayers was received, so it’s back to the drawing board to see what resources are available,” Hamner said. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure put on K-12 in light of budget cuts during the last few years and the need to figure that out without new funding.”