Capitol Conversation: Legislative Leaders In Both Parties Call Session Productive

May 15, 2017

Colorado's annual 120-day legislative ended May 10. Lawmakers passed several bipartisan initiatives to restore proposed cuts to hospitals, and put more money into roads and schools. But many bills addressing key issues also failed.

Bente Birkeland talked with Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and Brian Eason with the Denver Post about some of the highs and lows of the 2017 session.

On why was the legislative session was so productive:

Sealover: I think there was a feeling of pragmatism that overtook the legislature this year. I think it stems a little bit from the last two years with virtually nothing getting done in 2015 and 2016 and the legislature hearing from constituents during the election season, hey we'd actually like some help with transportation. Hey we'd actually like some help funding our hospitals. We'd like some help putting up condos and affordable housing … and they got to work on it. It was actually quite shocking how much was able to get done this year.

On why the overall outcome seems somewhat surprising:

Eason: I think there was a moment where people were wondering is anything big going to get done this session. Construction defects was still on the rocks, hospital funding was at risk, there were pending cuts to schools that everyone was upset about. And it really didn't look like anything was going to come together. I think what you saw was rural interests really joining with more urban Democratic interests and putting together a grand compromise on issues that weren't necessarily partisan.

On what lawmakers couldn't agree on:

Sealover: They couldn't agree on regulatory reform. They couldn't come anywhere close to liquor sales reform despite four different attempts to do so. And in the end they couldn't agree even on extending the life of the Colorado Energy Office, and on what policy should be there. And I think that signals part of a bigger divide on a subject that will remain and continue to be even more divisive, and that is oil and gas regulations. I think in 2018 we're going to see some big fights on that.

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.