Despite some setbacks, Colorado lawmakers are praising the now completed 2017 legislative session. Lawmakers avoided major funding cuts to hospitals and took a step toward jump-starting condominium developments. But they failed to send a measure to voters that sought to raise the state’s sales tax to fund road infrastructure repair.
Bente Birkeland spoke with Democratic Speaker of the House Chrisanta Duran about some of the major pieces of legislation that passed through the Democratic House and Republican Senate.
On how lawmakers in the split legislature were able to be productive given the divided national political mood:
In a time that has so much divisiveness we have to focus on those issues that bind us together rather than those that will divide us and this legislative session was an example of that. We really focused on problem-solving when it comes to some of the issues that matter most to Coloradans.
On what’s next for transportation funding when her bipartisan bill with the Republican Senate President failed:
We have to come up with a long-term solution to our transportation needs in the state of Colorado. In this session we were able to find common ground with many who were engaged and willing to have a conversation and come to the table through negotiations to figure out what was possible. Out of the House we passed a bipartisan solution and sent it over to the Senate. If the bill would have went to the Senate floor there would have been the votes to be able to pass it. We’re hopeful that for those who were not interested in being part of the conversation that they will come to the negotiating table at some point.
On whether she has any regrets about her first session serving as Speaker of the House:
No, there’s no regrets. What I would say is, is that I think we went big this session. We took on all of the tough issues. We encouraged people to have meaningful conversations about some of the topics that have been challenging to be able to find common ground on. We didn’t get everything done that we would have liked to.
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