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Colorado Democratic lawmakers to focus on health care, education and environment in 2018 session

House Dems to meet with Governor, Senate & GOP
Posted: 7:45 PM, Nov 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-08 02:45:45Z

DENVER -- With Democrats soon to be in control of both houses of the State Legislature, and continuing their strangle-hold on the Governor's office, there will likely be a change in legislative priorities.

Sen. K.C. Becker, the House Majority Leader, says that in the next two months, they'll sit down with the members of the Senate, the Governor, and other stakeholders, including Republicans, to work on an agenda for the 2019 session.

"A lot of what Governor-Elect Polis has been talking about is what we're going to be working on," she said. "Health care is the number one issue, driving down the cost of prescription drugs."

Becker said education funding will be another top issue.

"From pre-school and K-12 to higher ed, that's going to be a priority for us," she said. 

Becker also said environmental values are something that people are talking about, "so we're going to address that as well."

GOP Concerns

Outgoing Senate President Kevin Grantham said he anticipates significant changes in the Senate, chief among them, the type of legislation that will be sent to the Governor's desk.

“We’ll see more legislation that puts mandates on employers, that puts more regulations on the most heavily regulated industry in Colorado, which is oil and gas.” Grantham said. “We will see, I think, like in 2013, more rules and regulations on Second Amendment rights.”

Grantham said Republicans will do what they can via amendments and arguments to moderate the impact of that legislation.

He said he worries about the ripple impact of possible setbacks on oil and gas production.

“The long-term effects of that are rising utility costs, fewer jobs, and less revenue to local governments when it comes to severance taxes.”

Year of the Woman

Metro State University Political Science Professor Robert Preuhs said when one party controls both houses and the Governor’s office, they typically work as hard as they can, and as quickly as they can to get their agenda passed.

He says heading into 2020, the party in power may have to exercise a little more care, if they don’t want “push back” heading into the Presidential election.

Preuhs said Tuesday’s election amounted to the Year of the Woman in the State Legislature.

“Last session,” he said, “only 38 percent of lawmakers were women. “Depending on how some of these really close races go, we could see almost 43 percent (in the next session.)”

Becker said the General Assembly is becoming more representative of the population it serves.

“We’re getting closer to parity,” she said. “Not 51 percent, but we’re getting close.”

The House Majority Leader also said that when women are elected, you get better results.

“Obviously, we all bring our own values to the discussion,” she said, “but I think women tend to be more collaborative and the things we work on might be different that men.