Editorial: Session over, where do we go now?

A Colorado Community Media editorial

Posted

The Colorado General Assembly's 2013 session came to a close last week without the extra-innings drama of the previous year. No doubt, much was accomplished over the past four months by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, including approval of some high-profile pieces of legislation.

Civil unions? Check. (Unlike last year, there would be no last-minute theatrics over a bill approving these.)

Numerous gun-control measures? Check.

Overhaul of Colorado's election rules? Check.

Mass frustration by Senate and House Republicans? Check.

A statement released by the Colorado Republican Party the day after the session's end called it “the most divisive and partisan in the state's history.” We're not sure where to rank the session on the all-time list, but it certainly was both very divisive and very partisan.

It also was very predictable. November's elections ensured one-party control in Colorado. With a House, Senate and governor united, little could stand in the way of getting bills passed, controversial or not — a single vote from the other party or not.

And while the session was not without some solid examples of bipartisan legislation, Democrats were prolific with their newfound power.

“You may not agree with everything we're doing, but you can't say we're not doing anything,” Democratic Rep. Dominick Moreno told Colorado Community Media legislative reporter Vic Vela in April.

We're not using this space to call out the Democratic Party. Republicans likely would also have taken full advantage of such a position. Democrats worked together and accomplished what they felt was right.

But one-party control in a state that is about as purple as it gets has us wondering if Colorado's residents were best served by this past legislative session. On the state's active voting rolls as of May 1 there were 915,793 Republicans, 875,926 Democrats and 862,050 unaffiliated voters. That's not far from one-third each.

Those figures make it tough to believe that either party's platform can adequately represent the constituency as a whole. Clearly, consensus is elusive in Colorado, but if nothing else, the 2013 session was a test of the tastes of the hundreds of thousands of unaffiliated voters.

Theirs is the critique that will matter most when they speak at the polls in 2014.