Senate President Bill Cadman and Majority Leader Mark Scheffel – This dynamic duo led the Republicans to the majority for the first time in a decade. Their team protected Coloradans from outrageous Democrat policies and reinstated balance to government. They also were champions of several school safety bills. Cadman’s humor often saved the day, but it was his pointed comments about the budget that made him a hero in our book.
Rep. Kevin Van Winkle – For a newcomer, Van Winkle sponsored some great bills. We were particularly big fans of his attempts to rid Colorado of the scourge of red light cameras.
Rural Colorado – In 2013, Democrats ignited a war on rural Coloradans with the passage of several punitive bills, including SB252, which mandated higher renewable energy standards. Despite Democrats’ empty pandering to those not in Central Denver, rural folks had more common sense than to fall for Dems’ city-slicker ways. Dems want to tax rural Coloradans to tarnation, but rural Coloradans are right to hold out for a good deal.
TABOR – Despite the many maneuvers to gut TABOR, it’s still the law of the land. For now. Unless Democrats like Sen. Andy Kerr get their way. For better or for worse, TABOR has been a backstop for Democrats’ crazy tax schemes and the only reason that Colorado hasn’t gone the obscene tax route that California has.
Oil and Gas Industry – Despite the sometimes-bizarre wranglings of the oil and gas task force (thanks to Keystone), the recommendations that came out of it were toothless, and just one even made it onto the books. In fact, just about the only oil and gas legislation were two companion bills about mineral rights that died in the State House. The oil and gas industry has lived another day…until the 2016 ballot, that is. Of course, the real winner in this scenario was John Hickenlooper, who kicked the can down the road past his election.
Taxpayers – The Colorado Health Exchange is finally going to have to open its books, and if previous, less intrusive audits are any indication, it ain’t going to be pretty. But, the only way to really fix this beast is to know how bad it really is, so the audit is a positive step for taxpayers. Cheers to a year without $40,000 in exchange branded lip balm.
Yogis – After some yoga masters complained about the expensive and burdensome training requirements for yoga instructors, Republicans like Sen. Laura Woods fought to deregulate yoga training. It was the right move. Plus, it gave Republican State Sen. Owen Hill an opportunity to show off his mad yoga skills. In fact, let’s put Woods and Hill in the winners column, too.
Rep. Lang Sias – Sias was the best candidate who never won. Now that he made it to the State House, we’re glad he’s on our side. He’s a pragmatic legislator and funny to boot. Welcome, Rep. Sias.
GOP Women in Leadership – With all the crowing from the House Dems about their women in leadership, Republicans had some pretty dynamic women at the top, too. House Republicans had Rep. Polly Lawrence as Assistant Minority Leader, Rep. Perry Buck as House Minority Whip, and Rep. Lois Landgraf as House Minority Caucus Director. And, let’s not forget Senate President Pro Tem Ellen Roberts, who has been a needed pragmatic voice in the legislature.