Dems held the remote during Legislature show

Column by Vic Vela


I'm about to take you to into a strange and highly unorganized place: my warped mind.

It all starts with a recent conversation I had with a lobbyist at the Capitol about the correct pronunciation of the Latin-based “sine die.”

It means “without day” and it's typically used in conjunction with a governing body ending its work for a while — such as the case was last week with the adjournment of the 2013 General Assembly.

The lobbyist pronounced sine die the way it looks on paper.

“I think it's like saying `sign,' or `Seinfeld,'” he told me.

That's when I abruptly changed the subject to begin sharing some of my favorite “Seinfeld” moments, and to quote lines from classic episodes like “The Library” or “The Contest.”

You see, I get distracted easily.

I continued to think about the pronunciation of sine die, and, at the same time, how hilarious of a show “Seinfeld” was. And, after a while, I was certain that the lobbyist had it all wrong.

You wanna know why? Because “Seinfeld” was endearingly dubbed a “show about nothing.”

And, say what you will about this year's legislative session, but it certainly was something.

There, see. I warned you — warped mind. Only I could go from Latin phrases to “Seinfeld” episodes to a summary of the legislative session.

But it kinda makes sense. You see, Democrats truly believe that this year's session was a Show About Something. And their definition of the word “something” is a heck of a lot different from Republicans'.

“There's a lot of good that came out of this session,” said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver. “I think we put some really positive public policy out there and I think the people of Colorado are going to look back at this session and just be amazed at all the things we found the time to do.”

So the Democrats are happy. For them, the session was about sunshine and puppy dog tails.

As for the Republicans, not so much.

“They charged hard to the left and stayed there the entire session,” said Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, of the Democrat agenda.

I know what you're thinking right now. You're thinking, `Hey, wait a second, Vic. You mean to tell me that Democrats and Republicans disagreed on how this year's legislative session turned out?'”

Yep. Shocking, ain't it?

Democrats feel like they hit the jackpot this session, by passing a host of major pieces of legislation: civil unions, education reform, election reform, in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants and gun control, just to name a few.

Seriously. If there was such a thing as Democratic bingo, the entire card would be full of little dauber-stained dots.

“Any one of these things by themselves would have been historic and epic, frankly, in a session,” said Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. “And we did. One after the other, after the other.”

Hmm. But did they do too much? Republicans sure think so. They think Democrats will rue the day that they tried to push such a progressive agenda on the voters.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, mocked the Democrats' legislative efforts on job creation. He said the Democrats proved they're a party that's beholden to unions and their efforts hurt small businesses.

“This agenda is punishing people in Colorado,” Cadman said.

McNulty agrees.

“The Democrats have clearly shown that they are very liberal,” he said. “Colorado voters are not going to reward them for that.”

But Democrats are making no apologies. They also believe that Republicans didn't do much of anything, except to complain and say no to just about everything throughout the 120-day session. That's not what the voters wanted this session, Carroll said.

“We would rather be criticized for tackling too many of Colorado's problems, than not enough,” Carroll said.

So, there ya have it. A legislative session that spanned five months, with reaction that can be summed up as: Democrats good; Republicans bad. And vice versa. Who would've thunk it, right?

Or, maybe the session could be summed up as being a really long, and not nearly as funny, “Seinfeld” episode. Think about it. Whenever Democrats did something controversial, Republicans would bemoan with a “Newman!”-like expression.

And, when Republicans complained about Democratic overreach, Democrats like Carroll would respond with an Elaine Benes-like shove to the chest, and a hearty “Get out!”

There was one episode where Kramer started the show by pretending to do a stand-up comedy routine, a la Jerry Seinfeld.

“What's the deal with politics?” Kramer said. “Am I right, people? I don't get it.”

I think Kramer might be on to something there.

Hmm. Maybe it's pronounced SINE-DIE after all. Just like “Seinfeld.”

Vic Vela is the legislative reporter for Colorado Community Media. He can be reached at Follow Vic on Twitter: @VicVela1.

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