If you’re looking for an honest take on how the Colorado legislative session has gone so far, your best bet is to ask one of the veteran reporters who’ve spent years covering this stuff. Guys like Charles Ashby.
Ashby, a capitol reporter for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, is best known for his curmudgeonly disposition and dry sense of humor. Imagine an old-school reporter who tells it like it is – that’s Ashby. He was recently interviewed about the end of the legislative session and made some striking observations. First, that Republicans ran the most interesting and memorable bills. Second, that Democrats “signature” bills were mostly a waste of time because they would have been accomplished without stand-alone legislation.
Here’s the transcript from what Ashby told Colorado Public Radio:
CHARLES ASHBY, GRAND JUNCTION DAILY SENTINEL: What’s actually, I think, most interesting about this year’s session is probably the two most memorable bills from the session that people will be talking about afterwards – two of the bills that Ivan just talked about was the firefighting fleet and the red light cameras. Interestingly, even though they have bipartisan support, they are really Republican efforts, and in a Democratic controlled legislature it’s kind of an interesting aspect that you don’t normally see. (Peak emphasis)
BENTE BIRKLAND, COLORADO PUBLIC RADIO: Democrats this session haven’t been nearly as ambitious as they were last session, they’ve definitely toned things down, maybe that’s part of the reason we’re seeing some of these Republican measures rise to the forefront of the session?
ASHBY: Well, what’s kind of interesting about the Democratic measures is they’re signature bills are really almost just made up. I mean they don’t even really need them. I mean $100 million they’re giving back, $110 million I guess they’re giving back to K-12. Which, you know, they created a special bill to do that, they didn’t need to do that, there’s a normal bill process for that. They have $100 million going to higher ed, they didn’t need a special bill for that. That’s usually handled in the budget bill. They’re playing it close to the chest, they’re playing it very quiet, they’re playing it as safe as they possibly can, except for, you know, when they tried to do the abortion measure that didn’t last very long. It’s almost like they’re running a little scared, and that’s part of the issue going on coming into the session because the recalls last year, Democrats losing those two seats, then having a narrow majority in the senate. (Peak emphasis)
Ashby’s analysis nails it and should have Republicans feeling confident heading into the 2014 election. The GOP showed true leadership this session, and it did not go unnoticed by the Capitol’s opinion leaders. Meanwhile, Democrats piddled around creating faux accomplishments that would have happened with or without them.