DENVER — Colorado Democrats started the new legislative session on Monday with the most power they have ever had.
Democrats control 69 of the state's 100 legislative seats.
All Republicans can really do is stall and delay, a tactic they practiced on day one, with an unexpected 30-minute delay during the vote for House Speaker.
Normally, the legislature supports the top choice of the majority party to be House Speaker. Democrats selected State Rep. Julie McCluskie (D-Dillion) as their leader, who would be the next House Speaker.
Republican House Minority Leader, State Rep. Mike Lynch (R-Wellington) even seconded McCluskie's nomination.
Then, new Republican State Rep. DeGraaf nominated new Republican State Rep. Scott Bottoms to be House Speaker.
That led to 30 minutes of speeches from members of both parties, that included policy statements by several Republicans.
Ultimately, McCluskie won House Speaker in a recorded vote that showed eight of the 19 House Republicans voting against her.
Now imagine what might happen when substantive bills start getting discussed.
During the opening day speech, McCluskie previewed the gun-focused legislation that Democrats will push and Republicans will no doubt try to stall.
"Our efforts to reduce gun violence this session will focus on expanding how and when a red flag petition can be filed so that more key moments can be acted upon to interrupt potential acts of violence," McCluskie said. "Furthermore, we will increase waiting periods and the age limits to purchase a firearm."
In Colorado, you can be 18 to buy a rifle or long gun and 21 to buy a handgun.
One gun bill that was not specifically mentioned might be the most controversial.
Over the weekend, the gun lobby group, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, received a draft copy of a bill entitled "Mass Shooting Prevention Act of 2023."
The draft bill is shown to be sponsored by Democratic State Reps. Andrew Boesenecker and Elisabeth Epps.
Neither wanted to talk about the bill on Monday.
The bill would define "assault weapon" and then make it illegal to buy, sell or possess once the bill becomes law. Though, existing "assault weapons" would be allowed to be legally kept under specific circumstances.
The bill defines an assault weapon as a semiautomatic rifle that accepts a detachable magazine and has one additional characteristic, including:
- A pistol grip
- Folding stock that reduces the length of the rifle
- Flash suppressor
Boesenecker said that this draft bill was a previous draft that was not supposed to be released. He said he would be willing to discuss the content of the bill next week.
"We'll make sure that the safety of Coloradans is number one, however, we are also not willing to sacrifice the Second Amendment God-given rights of our citizens," Lynch said at a news conference after the opening day pomp and circumstance.
When asked what gun laws that a responsible gun owner might support, Lynch did not waiver.
"We're not proactively going after any more restrictions in this state on guns," Lynch said.
The legislative session is a maximum of 120 days and will end no later than May 8.
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