DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado lawmakers came back to the state Capitol on Wednesday. After having a delayed start last year, many are hoping for a more normal year this time around.
Things inside the chambers were peaceful overall but Democrats and Republicans are already painting two starkly different pictures on how they want to tackle issues this year.
With no plexiglass dividers this year, nearly every Democrat opted to wear a mask and every Republican opted to go without one.
While COVID is still dominating life outside the dome, lawmakers inside are looking forward to other issues.
“Life in Colorado has gotten more and more expensive. That’s why my number one priority this session is to bring down the cost of living in Colorado and make life more affordable for families in our state,” House Speaker Alec Garnett said.
Republicans said they agree with that but they are adamant Democrats made it this way.
“To our colleagues across the aisle, it is disingenuous for you to enact legislation to increase costs one year and then just a few months later, to propose implementation of your expensive policies,” Senate Republican Minority Leader Chris Holbert said.
Republicans were mainly referring to the state transportation bill passed last year that brings fees to gas and delivery prices. While the governor wants to delay the increase, Republicans want to repeal and replace it. They also pointed the finger at Democrats for high crime rates in the state.
“Leading the nation in auto thefts, having the highest increase in property crime rates in the country, it’s nothing to be proud of. We should have never gotten to this point in the first place but Democrats have undermined law enforcement and allowed soft on crime policies to continue,” House Minority Hugh McKean said.
Instead of looking back, Democrats said they want to focus on stopping people from getting involved with crime in the first place.
“This means pursuing community-based solutions to homelessness, substance abuse disorders, working with local governments to prevent pandemic induced crime and investing in resources to break up crime rinks,” Garnett said.
Republicans acknowledged they need Democrats to help them get their 44 measures passed this year, but they said they do not have any Democrats on board with them so far. And they have not talked to the governor about them, leading Democrats to wonder if they are serious about working across the aisle to achieve goals.
“About the bipartisanship, we find a way right? We have a lot that we agree on. We the Democrats have worked very, very hard to bring on Republican support where we can but we do have some fundamental differences. It all comes down to whether you stand with hard-working people or whether you stand with the big corporations, and I have not yet seen that they are really making a shift to stand with hard-working people,” Democratic Rep. Chris Kennedy said.