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What did Colorado lawmakers do for you in the 2019 legislative session?

Now that the 120-day legislative session is over, state Democrats and Republicans are tallying their wins and losses.

DENVER — What have you done for me lately?

If you ask House and Senate Democrats, they'll tell you a lot.

The 120-day legislative session is over, and Democrats are touting their wins, while Republicans are explaining why their supporters should be happy with how they tempered some of the Democratic bills.

Gov. Jared Polis (D) held another news conference on Monday touting his successful passage of state-funded full-day kindergarten, which will start this fall. He had a news conference on Friday highlighting that and some health care policies that passed this session.

Just before Polis' Monday news conference, the House and Senate Democrats held their own detailing the agenda they advanced, saying voters elected them to do what they passed.

Two of the bills passed in the last week of the session will require voter approval.

One will ask voters to allow the state to permanently override the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and allow the state to keep taxes that would otherwise be refunded to voters, to fund schools and roads.

"Without raising taxes and to better fund public schools, higher education, and roads, bridges, and transit, within a balanced budget, may the state keep and spend all the revenue it annually collects after June 30, 2019, but is not currently allowed to keep and spend under Colorado law, with an annual independent audit to show how the retained revenues are spent?" 

"We, from past experience, know that people want a plain language ballot measure. We did that, and they want to know very specifically where the money's going to go, and we did that," said House Speaker Rep. KC Becker (D-Boulder). "This is a very simple, common sense way to address it without raising taxes."

The other ballot issue will ask voters to legalize sports betting and tax the casino proceeds at 10% to fund the Colorado Water Plan.

Democrats also touted their advancement of the 'Paid Family Leave' bill, which became a study at the end of the session. The bill was going to fund paid family leave by issuing a fee on employee paychecks and a fee on the overall salaries' employers pay. Instead, the bill became a study, and must be brought up again next year to institute the policy.

"That bill was ultimately amended to just a study. There is no 'fee-tax,' and taxpayers of Colorado, business owners and people who have jobs, I think, are best served by that bill not passing in its original form and we definitely affected change on that," said Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chris Holbert (R-Parker).

Senate Republicans used multiple slow down methods by having bills read at length, and dragging out debate.

"The Senate Republicans, I think, proved that we know the Constitution, the statues, the rules, the process and the calendar," said Holbert.

He also said there was no friction between Republican and Democratic leadership. Senate President Leroy Garcia agreed.

"I had resolved to making sure that I was available to meet with them at least a couple of times a week. I think people who know me, know my style is to not bring people to my office, rather, for me to go to their office," said Garcia (D-Pueblo).

He also downplayed information Next with Kyle Clark has heard from Senate Democrats that there is friction within Senate Democratic leadership.

"I get along with everyone. I try never to be in disagreement with people. I think it might come from my philosophy and my style of leadership and that is because I recognize a principle called 'small unit leadership,' that's a teaching in the Marine Corps. I empower others to be leaders, so I'm not going to micromanage," said Garcia. "I know when I have to be in charge, and I know when I can allow others to lead."

He also mentioned his Marine Corps background when he kept the Senate open in March during a blizzard that hit in the late morning and afternoon.

Next asked Garcia if it was fair to hold lawmakers and those who do work at the Capitol to Marine Corps standards.

"I don't treat them as though they are Marines, because if that were the case, they would just take orders," said Garcia.

When the red flag legislation that would allow a judge to temporarily seize the weapons of someone deemed a threat passed the Senate without his support, he did not answer why he voted against it. On Monday, he did.

"I have been cautious in regards to a number of those different types of policies that are not favorable in my district, where I believe that they are not in line with where my values are," said Garcia. "One of the things that I've continuously said is that I believe that the process in regards to making sure there are safeguards for veterans and for others, I'm concerned about what that open door looks like. I do recognize, significantly, that there are mental health concerns and there are definitely people who should not have weapons who believe they're entitled to."

Garcia represents the same Pueblo district that recalled former Sen. Angela Giron.

Last week, Dudley Brown from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners said he is ready to help pursue the recall of three senators and nine representatives. On Monday, House Democrats said that threats like that during the session were used as scare tactics to try to keep lawmakers from advancing their policies.

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