Legislative News – December 2018

Watch and Wait...and Wait...and Wait...

Organizations across Colorado, including CMA, are cautiously watching the newly-elected Polis Administration and legislative leadership to chart their own path forward in 2019.  The transition teams for Governor-elect Polis are holding web-based meetings to hear from citizens on topics related to various areas of state government (public safety, energy, etc.) in preparation for January. Further information is available at https://boldlyforward.co/news/2018/11/26/governor-elect-polis-transition-committees-announce-upcoming-tele-town-hall-meetings. November 27 marked the deadline for applicants to turn in their names for potential Executive Agency positions. Traditionally, the Executive Directors and other politically appointed positions within each agency submit their resignations prior to a new Governor taking office and are usually replaced by a new “team” of the Governor’s choosing. That leadership team is selected after vetting by a transition team that advises the Governor-elect on the mission and function of each state agency and the applicants for those positions. To date, no announcements (and few rumors) of potential appointees is forthcoming.

Similarly, the composition of legislative committees is in a holding pattern. Committee chairmanships are highly coveted because of the high profile they provide the holder and the weight that individual may have in influencing fellow caucus members on specific bills.  The ratio of committee members from respective political caucuses depends on the total makeup of the chamber. In the House there are 41 Democrats to 24 Republicans, assuring the Democrat Majority of a strong advantage when voting on favored bills. In the Senate, with only a two-vote majority, the committee composition will likely be similar to the 3-2 political composition seen in previous years when the Republicans held a small one-vote advantage.

Democrat and Republican Leadership in each chamber determine committee assignments, taking into account not only the experience and interests of each member but also the subject matter purview of each committee (e.g., agriculture, natural resources, and energy or healthcare and insurance). The leadership in each caucus may also wish for certain members to sit on committees to reflect a philosophy toward certain types of legislation (the “kill committee”). After that, it becomes a matter of assigning members to multiple committees whose meeting times do not conflict. During the week, Monday afternoons and Tuesday through Thursday there are usually six committees meeting twice weekly in morning or afternoon time blocks. The Joint Budget Committee meets constantly, so the six members of that committee are only assigned to Appropriations Committee in addition to the JBC task.  Given all those considerations, it is little wonder that we are still waiting to see which legislators will sit on the many committees that will review bills of importance to CMA.  We are constantly checking on legislative appointments and monitoring JBC activities and will put out information to our members as soon as it becomes available.