Colorado’s 2022 legislative session began on Wednesday in the shadow of a grim pandemic, and party leaders began debating how to divide the historically flush state budget, and how to make the state safer and more affordable. Spent months for
Parties identify many of the same problems, but offer largely opposing views to address them. However, for the fourth straight year, Democrats control both the state House and Senate, as well as the office of the governor, so they can always claim the final if they so desire.
It is clear once again that the COVID-19 pandemic is a subject area that has little in common. The politicization of this pandemic was clear as Democrats in both houses wore masks and all but some Republicans did not. Health care workers conducted rapid virus tests outside the Capitol, and guests – unlike lawmakers – were required to wear masks indoors. However, the division between the desks of MPs who were removed at the end of last year’s session did not return.
“Health care and public health will continue to guide many of the decisions we make in this building,” said House Speaker Alex Garnett of Denver. “Despite our exhaustion and fatigue, COVID has not yet subsided.”
This is the final year for several term-limited staples of Colorado state politics, including Garnett, Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert of Douglas County and House Majority Leader Denya Esgar of Pueblo.
In their opening speeches, both Holbert and House Minority Leader Hugh McCain, Loveland argued that Colorado has become less affordable and safer, with students lagging behind in their education.
Holbert promised that his caucus would bring a bill to “struggling Coloradans” to deduct rent from their income tax and allow food to be exempt from state sales taxes. He said the caucus would bring a bill to hire more police officers and to fully pay off the state’s debt to the public K-12 system long ago.
McCain promised to fight for Colorado’s cost of living by “eliminating excessive taxes and fees” and to return to the “broken window doctrine that underpins all our laws,” which increased costs for police. focused on training and reporting. ,
García, in his speech, was more comprehensive and included fewer policy specifics than Holbert. He pointed to the fact that the legislature’s work would be largely defined by the historic inflow of nearly $4 billion in federal stimulus money, which gave lawmakers nearly 10% of their discretionary spending power this year compared to previous years. gives a fold.
“It has become a tradition for the Senate Speaker to declare on the opening day that this upcoming session will be the most consequential in history,” García said. “That announcement has never been more appropriate, … with a once-in-a-lifetime gift that has the wind at our back as we choose how to shape Colorado’s future.”
Garnett praised policies passed last year to make health care more affordable for Coloradans, and said lawmakers would continue that work this year. He said lawmakers would work on passing bills to make historic investments in education, affordable housing and mental and behavioral health, and that they would try to reduce “pandemic-induced crime” through policies to prevent crime and reduce recidivism. Will present the bill for addressing.
“If we do our job as well as I know we can, we will be treating the underlying causes of the sufferings our state is facing, not just managing the symptoms,” he said.
He also focused a significant portion of his speech on addressing the “growing threat of climate change”, calling for holding pollutants accountable, improving permitting and monitoring systems, and reducing emissions.