Q&A w/Amy Stephens: Still busy after all these years
Author: Dan Njegomir - February 16, 2017 - Updated: June 6, 2017
Republican Amy Stephens represented Colorado Springs District 20 and then District 19 in the state House from 2006 through 2014, serving as House majority leader during the last two years of GOP control in the lower chamber, 2010 through 2012. Stephens ran for the Republican nomination in the 2014 U.S. Senate race against Mark Udall but withdrew to support Cory Gardner, who went on to defeat Udall that fall. She worked as a public policy and youth culture specialist for the Colorado Springs-based ministry Focus on the Family from 1991 to 2001.
What are you up to these days — politically and professionally?
Professionally, I currently oversee government relations for the Denver office of Dentons US, the largest global law firm in the world. As a policy wonk, I like the global, national and local issues we tackle. A firm gathering is akin to attending a UN meeting — translators and all! Newt Gingrich and Howard Dean are part of our firm in DC — so this presidential election season was most interesting. Politically, I’ve focused on supporting candidates for state and national office and helping promote the documentary “Strong Sisters,” the history of women in Colorado who achieved political office. I also mentor our 20-30 year-olds who are thinking of a political career. I have a lot of hope for this generation.
What was your greatest accomplishment during your years in the General Assembly?
I loved my time in office — the good and the bad! I love to learn and there is so much to learn when you want to represent your district the best way possible. My greatest accomplishment was winning the House majority in 2010 with my friend and colleague Frank McNulty and becoming House majority leader, the third female House majority leader in Colorado history. We did it with less money than the Dems, recruited good candidates and worked non-stop to see it through. I passed the School Safety Act, which included Safe2Tell, legislation protecting seniors from financial abuse. I also got signed into law military spousal legislation that provided the ability to work in occupations that Colorado needs, done with the idea of supporting military families at home while our service members defend us abroad. I did all of this with bipartisan support.
What was your greatest disappointment during that time?
My greatest disappointment was witnessing what happens when you aren’t in the majority: the rash of “dirty dozen” taxes, anti-Second Amendment legislation, more business regulations, and other legislation that hurt rural Colorado. The other disappointment I experienced was actually when we were just elected to the majority. The speaker and I invited the most conservative groups, including the Tea Party, and asked members what ideas they wanted to see implemented in governing the state that might work as legislation. You could hear the crickets chirping! These groups could only tell you what they DIDN’T want but could not and would not contribute anything related to ideas to improve the lives of Colorado citizens or business. I then found it amazing that they turned around and set up watchdog groups to “rate” only Republican legislators on their voting record. I have no problem telling my district how and why I voted on any issue — it is why you hold town hall meetings. I vote my district first in line with my ethics, principles and of course, our Constitution and federalism.
The race for state GOP chair is shaping up to be another divisive one. What advice do Colorado Republicans — leaders as well as rank-and-file members — need to hear most right now?
We’ve had party squabbles since the founding of our nation. 21st century party divisiveness is played out now on real-time social media — rather than pony express. The Colorado Republican Party in-fighting can wear at the most positive of souls — believe me I dealt with it in a primary. But I also learned something important. Despite seeing toxic, behind-the-screen cowardly, hate-spewing, irresponsible attacks toward other Republicans, I also saw incredibly kind, committed and community contributors in the process.
What is the biggest misconception people seem to have about you, political or otherwise?
That Obamacare was “brought” to Colorado through (the state’s health care) exchange rather than the reality that it was federally voted on and mandated in every state! EVERY state and health plan has Obamacare, which I opposed. The only prudent decision as a federalist was if we’d have state’s rights oversight or turn our citizens over to a federal exchange. Federally run with less plan choices, hours waiting for help, compromised personal information and now an extra “fee” for states to use their platform. As the Trump administration gets ready to repeal and replace Obamacare, it will likely give broad authority to the states. We can and should use our paid-for exchange for private market purposes or to sell insurance across state lines.
I have a long history of working on conservative policies since the late 1980s early 1990s at a national and international level — fighting for educational choice, charter schools, children and families, religious freedom, and life issues. These issues are as relevant today as when I started, and we continue to need vision and leadership because we are not done!
What is the last good movie you saw?
I loved “Hidden Figures.” I thought it was phenomenal! I also liked “LaLa Land,” which is already reaping awards.
If you had to be stuck in an elevator with a Democrat, who would it be?
I’d say Sen. Lucia Guzman of Denver. Lucia was at the Blake/Kuipers wedding last summer and was the last one standing on the dance floor — with Sens. Bill Cadman and Mark Sheffel and I gasping for breath! That woman has the energy of 10 people! We’d likely be listening to Motown on her iPhone and telling stories and swapping tales of our spiritual experiences.