LOVELAND — Republican lawmakers painted a dismal picture regarding the recently completed 2013 legislative session.
Speaking at the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance’s legislative wrap-up session Friday afternoon at the Budweiser Events Center, the Democratic-dominated House and Senate didn’t receive many kudos from the Republicans.
The event was supposed to focus on issues that were the highest priority to the Northern Colorado business community, but it touched on a variety of topics during a legislative session where recreational marijuana legislation, civil unions and guns made national news.
Sandra Solin, NCLA issues manager, provided an overview of what issues the NCLA fought for during the 2013 session, and opened up the conversation to the northern Colorado lawmakers.
After Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, talked about job creation and HB13-1001 (Advanced Industries Acceleration Act) co-sponsored by Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, which is a grant program in the Colorado office of economic development that could create more jobs in advanced manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience, electronics, energy and natural resources, infrastructure engineering and information technology, Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, quickly addressed the comments from Ginal, who was the only lawmaker from the Democratic Party at the event.
“I’ll be honest with you, that’s the first time I’ve heard the word ‘jobs’ from a Democrat in three months,” Renfroe said. “That’s the way the session has been. That is such a spin. It is such a disaster of what this session was of a mischaracterization of almost every single bill that went through this place.”
Renfroe said most of what happened during the session was a bunch of deceptive bills.
“A deceptive session is what this was,” Renfroe said. “Talk about the governor signing a (gun) bill into law that forced Colorado companies out of the state. The governor said it’s an urban issue that’s going to require some inconvenience from rural people. That’s Weld County. That’s the eastern plains.”
Another bill, SB252, created quite a stir in the crowd. The bill would require rural electric associations (REAs) to produce 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy by 2020. That is an increase from the previous goal of 10 percent. Opponents of the bill, which is sitting on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk but hasn’t been signed yet, said it would increase electricity bills for senior citizens, state facilities and farmers by millions of dollars each year.
Renfroe said SB252 is a crime at what it will do to energy rates for rural electric associations.
“We had all the REA CEOs come in and tell them what it was going to cost them. They came up with over $3 billion,” Renfroe said. “The president of the Senate (John Morse) said there was no way it would cost that much.”
Poudre Valley REA CEO Brad Gaskill was in the audience and thanked the Republicans for fighting against the bill.
Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, who did say she liked the bipartisan effort on water storage, said Hickenlooper must veto SB252.
“This bill will make struggling families struggle harder, and farmers go out of business,” Saine said. “That’s how bad this bill is.”
Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, summed up the session as a bad year. Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, was also at the event.
“It’s the worst year I’ve ever seen down there,” Lundberg said. “We need a new Legislature, and we need a new governor. We need a new team with a new direction.”
Renfroe said after the event that the session wasn’t good for Colorado residents.
“I think it was bad for the citizens of Colorado,” Renfroe said. “We ran jobs out of the state, we’re regulating at a much higher pace and we took an extreme lurch to the left with every policy and with the deceptiveness that was done behind the scenes with a lot of bills.”