Democrats took control of the Colorado Senate by a narrow 18-17 margin after the 2000 election. Republicans maintained control of the House and the governor’s office. When incoming Senate President Stan Matsunaka spoke at the annual pre-legislative forum sponsored by the Colorado Press Association that year, he announced that because he didn’t believe a split legislature could agree on a plan, the Senate wouldn’t try to pass a bill to establish congressional districts for the next 10 years and the issue would be passed onto the courts.
The map developed by the court expires before the next election, and it looks a lot like 2000. This time Republicans have taken control of the Colorado House of Representatives by a narrow 33-32 margin and Democrats maintained control of the Senate and governor’s office. At this year’s edition of that same Press Association forum, Senate President Brandon Shaffer got up to speak and asked Republicans Frank McNulty, the incoming speaker of the House, Mike Kopp, the Senate minority leader, and Democrat Sal Pace, the House minority leader, to join him at the podium. They jointly announced the formation of a 10-member joint select committee split equally by chamber and party to draw a new congressional map. The select committee will host public forums throughout Colorado and work to develop congressional districts that will pass muster with the legislature and be signed into law.
In a partisan political world, there is no more partisan event than drawing congressional district boundaries. While we won’t know the outcome until after the select committee finishes its work and submits a plan, it is a remarkable act of bipartisanship from Shaffer, McNulty, Kopp and Pace to work together to establish a process to address this important job. While all four stated strongly that there are philosophical differences between the parties and that working together doesn’t mean agreeing on all issues, their joint announcement, made in front of reporters from newspapers throughout Colorado, was dramatic and historic. Hopefully it foretells a new era of bipartisanship in which both parties fight for the principles they hold dear in ways that the people’s business is conducted through identification of common ground that results in reasonable solutions in the best interest of our state as a whole.
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Another big change at the General Assembly hits closer to home. For the first time in 38 years, Buffalo Creek resident Charley Pike won’t be working behind the scenes. Charley completed a distinguished career as a lawyer to the General Assembly at the end of November. For much of that time, he served as Colorado’s revisor of statutes, making sure that changes to Colorado’s laws were applied consistently and didn’t conflict with other provisions. He was promoted to direct of the Office of Legislative Legal Services, the legislature’s law office, in 2003 and served in that capacity until he retired. He was universally liked and respected by everyone who worked in the Capitol.
Charley told me his fondest career memories were “working with all the special people who loved what they were doing and worked hard at it over the years.” Thanks to Charley for his service to our state, and best wishes to him as he enters the next chapter of his life.
Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.