Fresh faces, hot issues when Legislature opens Wednesday
January 6, 2013
The largest crop of new lawmakers in decades takes office Wednesday when the 2013 session opens with Democrats in control and a dizzying array of issues to be completed during the Legislature’s 120-day run.
Guns, fracking and school reform are among the issues expected to generate battles and grab headlines, but political consultant Steve Welchert of Denver said the Colorado Legislature is a “breath of fresh air” compared with Congress.
“The Legislature actually gets stuff done,” he said.
Democrat John Morse of Colorado Springs, who will be Senate president for the next two years, said the Legislature always manages to accomplish a number of goals before it adjourns in May.
“I continued to be amazed at how well sessions go,” he said. “Even when there are flashes of anger, they are short-lived. Everybody wants to move Colorado forward, although we do disagree at times about how to do that.”
Opening day is traditionally plenty of pomp, with speeches by leadership, snapshots of newly sworn-in lawmakers and their families and bouquets of flowers being delivered to the Senate and House chambers.
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Democrat Mark Ferrandino of Denver will make history by becoming the first gay lawmaker elected speaker of the Colorado House.
The first wave of bills also will be introduced on opening day, including a measure by Ferrandino and Sen. Pat Steadman to allow gay couples to form civil unions. The issue died last year in the Republican-controlled House but is expected to sail through now that Democrats control the chamber.
One side story of this session is all the fresh faces: 27 of the 65 House members and four of the 35 senators have never served before in the Legislature.
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