Copyright © 2005 Henrietta W. Hay
Colorado Legislature, 2005
May 20, 2005
Once again it is time to take a deep breath and relax. The Lege has gone home. In this yearly Colorado Legislature column I can't resist quoting Molly Ivins. "The Legislature is, among other things, the best free entertainment in Texas. Better than the zoo. Better than the circus." Of course our Lege is not nearly as funny as the one in Texas, but it has its moments.
This year there wasn't too much to laugh about. The financial
crisis cast a shadow over everything. Two years ago Bob Ewegen described the crisis that is still facing Colorado this year. "Three Pillars of Folly hold up this absurd constitutional edifice: the 1982 Gallagher amendment, the 1992 TABOR amendment and 2000's Amendment 23."
This year, however, the two politcal parties managed to get together enough to pass the Economic Recovery Act and Governor Owens signed it. As Andrew Romanoff, Democratic Speaker of the House said, "All of us got something we wanted; nobody got everyhing. That describes the Legislative situation too. Welcome Democracy."
Back in 1994 I started picking the annual Most Ridiculous Piece of Legislation award. There have been some gems One of my favorites is the Trout bill, that first year. It blew the rainbow out of the water and made the Greenback Cutthroat Trout the state fish. Quoting he Denver Post of that year, "After floundering in the House last week, the bill ... will continue its upstream battle in the Senate." The Senate caught it and reeled it in. It passed.
This year I was having some trouble finding anything funny, so I talked to Bernie Buescher. He said there was lots to laugh at.
Each House session begins with the Pledge of Allegiance. The louse rules say that it should be led by a member. Often, however, when groups of grade school youngsters are visiting the Capitol, one of them is allowed to lead the Pledge. Democrat Nancy Todd, proposed an amendment to the rule which would allow children to lead the Pledge. The Republicans fought it. Maybe they feared a closet Democrat in the 3rd grade, but it passed. So now occasionally a child can learn a lesson in civics and get a start in informed citizenship.
But the funniest comment of the session had Bernie laughing so hard over the phone that I had to look up the details on Google.
I don't quite know how to classify it -- the Funniest, The Most Ridiculous, or The Saddest. It was certainly the most bizarre. It took place at a news conference, called by Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R, to explain his measure, which would put a same-sex ,marriage amendment into the state constitution by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
In the course of the discussion, Jim Welker, R, a co-sponsor, said he feared the legislation would open a "Pandora's Box." He went on to say that in Boulder a man already had tried to marry his horse. The marriage was denied because the horse was only 8 years old.
A friend of mine commented that it would be important to see that the horse got benefits. Oh yes, the amendment failed.
How can you top that?
on a more serious note, the three Mesa County Legislators agreed that it was a most cooperative and pleasant session. They commented that they even disagreed with good manners.
So let's sit down and relax and see what happens in the next two years.