If the first day of Colorado's 2011 legislative session was any indication, nobody should expect the talks of bipartisanship that permeated Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony to be the norm under the gold dome.
As the Colorado Independent's Joe Boven reported on Wednesday, Republicans officially took control of the State House with a prayer from conservative Archbishop Charles Chaput, who called for legislators to consider the future of both the born and unborn.
With that, new Speaker of the State House Frank McNulty took the gavel from term-limited outgoing speaker Terrance Carroll, and proceeded to announce his party's intention to roll back certain policies enacted when Democrats controlled the house..
"Along with tax relief and regulation reform, we are committed to re-instituting a spending limit to protect future generations from government spending excesses," McNulty said during his opening day remarks. "If we have learned anything from the past few years, it's that excessive government spending prolongs economic recessions. It does not shorten them."
As the Denver Daily News reports, the Democratic legislature eliminated a 6% general fund spending cap.
House Minority leader Sal Pace responded with the following statement:
"To neglect services or slash programs without method, to penalize state workers and teachers to score political points, to demonize people because of their skin color or national origins and to balance our budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly and the back of the young. These are not acceptable solutions to the people of Colorado and they should not be acceptable to any of us."
In the Senate, Republican Minority leader Mike Kopp spoke in favor of restoring tax incentives for businesses that Democrats passed last year in order to balance the budget.
"These have cost jobs and caused companies to leave the state, and we ask for your help in reversing this trend, Kopp said.
Much of the discussion in the House centered around the new Republican majority's decision to change the names of certain committees.
Before those speeches even took place, four Democrats went to the podium one by one to complain about the Republicans' decision to take the words energy, human services and labor out of the transportation, health and business affairs committees, respectively.
The Democrats said the changes send a message to voters that those things aren't important, adding that newly named House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument, made matters worse when she disrespected their concerns. To each, she repeated the same thing:
"As in past history, we've had committee name changes," she said on the floor of the House. "We changed committee names for efficiency. We're here to do the work of the people, and I would suggest that we do so today."
Lawmakers introduced 95 bills on the first day of the session, ranging from a measure to allow unaffiliated voters cast ballots in primary elections, to one that would bar rodeo participants from pulling the tails of cows.
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