Lawmakers Set Agenda for 2021 Session
State legislators introduced more than 200 bills in the session’s first week

by Hank Lacey

The 73rd General Assembly resumed Tuesday with delayed opening day speeches from legislative leaders presaging a session likely to see partisan fights over everything from elections to energy, despite a reminder from the Republican House minority leader that the parties are separated only by a “short walk across an aisle.”

Speaker Alec Garnett said in remarks Tuesday that addressing the consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic would be the majority Democrats’ overall emphasis. “This session, our top priority will be to see our state out of the public health crisis and to work to usher in a swift economic recovery for Colorado’s hardworking families and small businesses,” the Denver Democrat said.

Garnett pointed to a variety of economic policy areas likely to receive attention from his party, which holds a 41-24 majority. He specifically mentioned “investing in job creation, small business assistance, housing, rural economic development [and] child care” and urged legislators to consider options to provide help to Coloradans in “other areas where equitable relief is badly needed.”

House Minority Leader Hugh McKean argued that the GOP caucus must play “defense against attacks on our freedom,” “defense against more and more pressure brought to bear on our families and their paychecks,” and “defense against the laundry list of things government can do but often without the debate about what it should do.” He urged protection of rural interests and the fossil fuel industry and peppered his comments with populist themes: “It is the role of government not to demand more from its citizens but rather to protect their ability to succeed and live without the tyranny of an unassailable ruling class,” McKean said, urging legislators “chart a course that takes into account the swath of our state and country that have lost faith in their government.”

This complete article appears in the Feb. 15 issue of Law Week Colorado. To read other articles from that issue, order a copy online. Subscribers can request a digital PDF of the issue.