Opening Speeches: Aspiration for the Session
The first week of every session brings speeches from legislative leaders and, of course, the Governor’s State of the State address. Early session speeches tend to be positive and aspirational, with calls to envision what we can accomplish as a team during our 120-day session. They also set the tone for what each caucus (House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats) hopes to prioritize and accomplish during the session.
Gov. Hickenlooper’s State of the State: Teamwork Past and Present
It hardly seems possible, but Governor John Hickenlooper is in his final year in office and gave his final State of the State address on Jan. 11. He recalled the peaks and valleys of Colorado’s past eight years – it’s easy to forget that he took office in 2011 while we were still struggling as a result of the Great Recession – and he talked about challenges he hopes the state will overcome as he rides off into the sunset.
It was especially gratifying to hear Gov. Hickenlooper’s review of Colorado’s recent successes. This includes slashing our unemployment rate, expanding rural broadband access, increasing our rates of health care coverage, getting our Hospital Provider Fee out from under TABOR, reducing our abortion rate, improving our electric vehicle infrastructure network, and so much more. Of course, we still have work to do, and Gov. Hickenlooper both recognized how teamwork helped us get the job done in the past and implored us to continue with our spirit of collaboration into the future.
“Popular culture has tried to sell us a tall tale that Colorado’s history is only about rugged individualism and conflict. But cooperation has always been the defining part of our DNA,” said Gov. Hickenlooper during the State of the State.
The whole speech is worth a read or listen if you missed it – just click here to watch the video or click here to read the transcript.
Speaker Duran: The Intolerable Can’t Be Tolerated
Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran also issued a call for collaboration, which is good since as a state legislature, we must tackle problems no matter the voter registration numbers of a given city, county, or region. In her opening day speech, Duran gave significant time to the challenges of providing adequate health care in rural areas, in part since many rural residents must travel great distances to visit a doctor.
The Speaker challenged her colleagues to find solutions to problems such as substandard education and transportation funding, affordable housing difficulties, opioid abuse and addiction, and long-term viability of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA), among other issues. She also gave special emphasis to current concerns about sexual harassment and inequality in our society.
“The hurdles of harassment and discrimination faced by women, people of color and people with disabilities should have been leveled a long time ago, but it is crystal clear that these challenges persist today…Let our actions show that the intolerable will be tolerated no more,” said Duran during her speech.
Again, you can read her entire speech by clicking here, or watch the video by clicking here.