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Legislative session begins, as Christmas and Mardi Gras for politicos

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For wonks and cranks, it’s Mardi Gras and Christmas all rolled into one, with less alcohol and more junk food.

The four-month 2017 legislative session starts today at the Capitol. Crisanta Duran, a Democrat from Denver, will take office as the first Latina to lead the Colorado House as speaker, as Republican Kevin Grantham of Cañon City takes the helm as Senate president.

Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst of Boulder and Sen. Bill Cadman of Colorado Springs, legislative leaders the last two years, were term-limited.

Republicans held on to their 18-17 majority in the Senate in November, but Democrats grew their legislative majority by three seats in the House to a 37-28 edge.

But with even a one-seat majority, Senate Republicans can squash any bill they want that comes out of the Democrat-led House by assigning it to a committee. Because of its majority, the GOP holds committee majorities and controls where bills are assigned.

More than usual, Senate and House leaders have talked about compromise headed into this session. Early indications are that we should see a breakthrough on funding at least some of the $9 billion in identified transportation needs. Duran’s speech this morning is expected to indicate progress in preventing litigation on construction defects, which proponents say has bedeviled the pace of building affordable housing in many communities.

Thursday morning, Gov. John Hickenlooper will deliver his next-to-last State of the State message to a joint session of the General Assembly. The governor, in his second term, won’t be allowed to seek a third term in 2018.

That means this year and next, rising politicos will be looking to identify weaknesses in government they can exploit in their own races next year.

We’re just getting started. Put up a tree and throw me some beads.

Keep your eyes on for news of the speeches, photos and video.




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