DENVER — The opening day of Colorado's 72nd General Assembly was full of the usual pomp, circumstance, and plenty of waiting.
Multiple recesses delayed the activity that involves House members reporting information in the Senate, and Senators reporting information in the House chambers.
One Sergeant-At-Arms commented that they're a boring group that has that doesn't involve going outside or fun.
The House and Senate also met in a joint session on opening day, which only happens every four years. They did so to avoid violating the constitution as they did in 2007 and 2011. The legislature must meet in joint session to publish the results of the election, before the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Attorney General are sworn-in, which happens on Tuesday.
The first day is also when we hear the agendas for both parties.
The last time the Democrats controlled the House and Senate, Colorado gun laws changed to limit the number of bullets a magazine could hold (15) and a requirement that all gun sales, even private sales, need background checks.
"There is another epidemic we must address – gun violence. Our state, our children, our families and even those who are now represented in this chamber have personally been impacted by this crisis," said Rep. KC Becker (D-Boulder), the new House Speaker.
She gestured to new Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora), whose son Alex was killed in the Aurora Theater Shooting. Sullivan had a photo of his son on his desk.
"That means we will work to pass the life-saving Extreme Risk Protection Order bill to prevent tragedies before they happen," said Becker.
That bill is the so-called "red flag" bill that Sullivan will sponsor. It would allow a judge to temporarily take guns away from someone deemed an extreme risk to themselves or others. It failed in the Republican-led Senate last year.
"New laws designed to prevent the mentally ill from acquiring firearms are so badly written and open to abuse that they are more likely to rob the innocent of the ability to defend themselves than to prevent the mentally ill from killing. While we are prepared to look closely at such bills, we are not willing to leave the innocent defenseless, so we might feel good about ourselves," said House Minority Leader Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).
There was also a clear difference in the position on the oil and gas industry.
"Colorado’s way of life is also threatened by the growing conflict between neighborhoods and oil and gas. Our state has grown, and schools and neighborhoods are butting up against oil and gas operations. It’s time we update our laws to reflect this new paradigm. That means we must ensure communities feel more confident that the oil and gas happening nearby isn’t negatively impacting their air or water quality and their quality of life," said Becker.
"This past November, Coloradans said 'no' to increased regulation of the oil and gas industry," said Neville. "Increased regulation would not only contradict voters’ expressed will, it would also make Colorado less affordable, and thus hurt everyone. That’s why we’ll oppose it, should it be proposed."
On transportation, Becker seemed to gloss over the issue, while Neville was more direct about following the voters' lead.
"There's no reason a significant portion of our budget can't be spent on transportation, especially at a time when our coffers are overflowing. Coloradans told us this past November they don't want taxes raised to pay for the transportation projects we already have money for," said Neville.
"Coloradans are also tired over the lack of investment in roads, bridges, and transit," said Becker. "That means coming up with creative and collaborative solutions to our transportation problems."