DENVER – A routine bill that formally enacts laws passed in the previous year typically garners unanimous support, but numerous Republican state senators have refused to blindly endorse all of the liberal measures muscled through by Democrats in 2013.
The legislation sailed through the House but hit a stumbling block Monday when 14 Republican senators refused to vote yes — a move that some believe is a first in state legislative history.
“Why vote for last year’s catastrophe?” Sen. Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs), told The Colorado Observer after the vote.
The controversial bills that were passed during the 2013 legislative session included gun-control measures, legalized civil unions, voter reform act, an increased renewable energy mandate in rural Colorado, Medicaid expansion, and in-state tuition and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
“Last year was terrible,” said Sen. Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley). “I talked to fellow legislators, reread the bills and decided to vote no.”
Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) agreed and said the liberal legislation was rammed through the legislature by Democrats who “refused to listen to the people.”
That attitude, Hill said, resulted in voters recalling ex-Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and former Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, and the threat of recall forced Sen. Evie Hudak of Westminster to resign.
“Across the board every piece of legislation reduced the freedom of Coloradans. They did not represent the will of the people,” Hill said.
Despite the recalls last fall, Hill marveled that Democrat lawmakers “continue to not listen the people of Colorado” in this session, and noted how many Republicans’ bills to undo the damage from last year have been assigned to the “killing” committees in the House and Senate.
The routine legislative procedure — House Bill 1019 — was sponsored by Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver) to enact last year’s approved legislation as statutory law. Despite the Republican rebellion, the measure passed 21 to 14, with Republican Sens. Ellen Roberts of Durango, Steve King of Grand Junction and Larry Crowder of Alamosa voting yes with the Democratic majority party.
The Republican revolt against House Bill 1019 to officially enact the bills passed last year was led by Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud).
“I looked back over what (was) passed last year and asked myself, can I really endorse this by placing yes vote” for HB 1019, Lundberg said on the Senate floor.
“The answer I have is no. I believe that the actions taken in the past year are not worthy of a yes vote,” Lundberg said.
Lundberg had voted in favor of the bill when it was up before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In recognition of Lundberg’s reversal, he was humorously awarded the “flipper” — a small plastic dolphin that Republican senators pass to their peer as a razz for changing their vote.
“If you flip your vote, you better have a good reason. I deservedly got the flipper,” Lundberg told The Colorado Observer.