‘Going To Be An Interesting Session’: State Lawmakers Prepare For Historic Legislature

DENVER (CBS4) – The state legislature reconvenes Friday, and Democrats have the biggest majority in the State House in more than 80 years.

Majority leader Alec Garnett says they plan to use that power to give more power to local governments.

“Whether or not that’s around plastic bags, whether or not that’s around different housing issues, or whether that’s around how much people should be paid in their municipality,” he said.

There will also be bills to allow local governments to issue their own green card of sorts and further limit where fracking can happen. But, Garnett says the top priority will be lowering the cost of living in Colorado.

“I hope by the end of session we can look back and say we passed a few bills that are going to be put in place, and over time relieve some of those pain points so people feel like this economy is finally working for them.”

It’s top priority for his Republican counterpart too.

“The litmus test for me is ‘Does this make Colorado more affordable or less affordable for the working class families?'” said Rep. Patrick Neville. What Republicans can’t stop, he says, they will work to improve, like full day kindergarten.

“I don’t support it, but one of the things we will look at doing with that specific bill individually is making sure this does apply to public charter schools,” Neville said.

Lawmakers will also decide whether to temporarily remove guns from people who are mentally unstable, allow pot delivery and legalize sports gambling.

“I’m dealing with a lot of big, pretty greedy interests,” said Garnett. “Whether or not the legislature should take that up is still up in the air.”

While Democrats are in control of all three levels of state government — the House, Senate and Governor’s seat — Garnett says he’s not worried about overreach.

“I don’t think you’ll see these radical ideas coming out. What I have found is that the new members that were elected are very, very in touch with their districts. We have a clear mandate on governing responsibly. but also on solving problems.”

Neville summed up Republicans reaction to the new Democratic majority by noting, “It’s going to be an interesting session.”

The House not only has the biggest Democratic majority in recent history, women hold the majority of the seats.

Health care transparency, transportation and education funding and climate change other big issues lawmakers will tackle.