Gov. touts Colorado's resolve in State Of The State, but avoids talk about controversial gun laws

DENVER - In his State of the State address, Gov. John Hickenlooper touted the state's resolve in the face of tragedy, but avoided talk about last year's gun legislation.

Highlighting a year of more deadly fires, the devastating September floods and the Arapahoe High School shooting, the Governor says Colorado has not only endured, but thrived.

"Colorado does not shut down. Colorado does not quit. Colorado does not break," said Hickenlooper.

During his 40-minute speech, Hickenlooper highlighted how the state's job growth climbed from 40th in 2010 to fourth this past year. He also talked about more than doubling the state's reserve fund since he took office, which helped the state pay for and recover from the devastating floods.

Download a PDF with the full transcript of the speech

In his speech, the Governor called for $100 million in additional funding for higher education, which would also come with the caveat that colleges and universities would not be able to raise tuition more than six-percent each year.

He also wants to fund a way for all school districts to be able to put their budgets online for transparency.

The elephant in the room was the debate over gun laws that the Governor signed last year.

"As we begin this session, my 'ask' is that we try to ignore divisive politics," said Hickenlooper. "No one needs to remind us we're going into a political season."

The gun laws last year limited magazines to 15 rounds or fewer and requires background checks on all sales, including private sales. Those laws led to the recall of State Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs and State Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo. State Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, also resigned before a possible recall election. Immediately after his speech, 7NEWS asked Hickenlooper about the future of those gun laws.

"I don't see us repealing laws, but I'm not against trying to figure out a way to fine tune them or make them better," said Hickenlooper.

"You can't run from the fact that 55 sheriffs are suing us for what we did here last year," said State Sen. Bill Cadman, the Senate Minority Leader from Colorado Springs.

Last year, the majority of sheriffs in Colorado joined gun rights organizations and private individuals to sue the state over the gun laws. In November, a judge ruled the sheriffs could no longer be a part of the lawsuit, but allowed the lawsuit to continue with the remaining plaintiffs.

"There will be several things to repeal, or adjust some things that we think were in error," said Cadman.

"How do you not be divisive with those things that happened last year?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"If I am 'them,' and you heard that from the Governor, I would want to put on as positive a face as I can," said Cadman. "The democrats are still in charge, they control the life or death of virtually every bill, and that is up to them."