Hope springs eternal on the hill
Opening day in baseball is the best time to be a Cubs fan.
There's so much promise. It's a new season. And every team is tied for first place.
It's just too bad the Cubs have to, you know, actually play baseball. As the season goes on, fans' frustration mounts. And by the end of year, even the diehards are tired, grumpy and over it.
I recently asked a fellow Cubs fan if that reminds him of anything.
“In true Cubs fan fashion, I put a post up on Facebook the other day, talking about how optimistic I was coming into the legislative session, hopeful that we are going to have an opportunity to create some good public policy for the people of Colorado,” Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, said. “Like Cubs fans in years past, I've been very disappointed toward the end of the season. Lets hope I'm not disappointed by the end of this legislative season.”
Boy howdy, were Republicans “disappointed” over what Democrats accomplished last year: Election reform and rural renewable energy mandate increases and attempts to overhaul the school finance system.
Oh, and gun control. Oh boy. Republicans may have gotten all Genghis Khan over some bills, but they promised the “Wrath of Kahn” after Democrats created legislation that led to universal background checks on gun sales and limited the amount of rounds that gun magazines can hold.
So, Democrats, on the heels of their huge wins last session, must be riding high as work begins at the Capitol this year, right, Rep. Max Tyler of Lakewood?
“To be honest I came into it a little grumpy.”
“The grumpiness came from the summer, whether it was created by nature or by the battles over the recalls,” Tyler said. “It was more like a pretty difficult campaign season over the summer.”
Tyler did say that the grumpiness subsided as he got back to work inside the Capitol and that he's energized about the upcoming session. And every lawmaker will tell you that they're optimistic and looking forward to getting back to work.
But, clearly the polarizing battles from last session, followed by the recall elections in the fall, still weigh in the back of lawmakers' minds as they start work this year.
And what about all the long hours they put in last year? Floor debates and committee hearings lasted FOR-EVER. Seriously, the greatest runners in Kenya looked at last year's legislative session and said, “I won't no part of that marathon.”
Lawmakers had to have woken up on the first day of the session on Wednesday Jan. 8, thinking to themselves, “Am I really looking forward to another round of committee hearings that don't end until one in the morning?”
“I don't mind the 1 a.m. mornings,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont. “When you said, 'Waking up on Wednesday,' it's like, 'I went to bed?'"
In other words, Singer was lucky to get any sleep last session. But he'll probably get a little more rest this time. Yes, there will be fights over some old battles and there will be new and improved controversy this time around.
But I don't see this year's session being as maddening as last year's was.
“In most sessions you're going to get two or three meaty, weightier issues,” Waller said. “Last year, I think we saw 15. But I don't think we'll see that this year.”
Singer doesn't either. And he's not surprised by what he's hearing from leaders of both parties, as the current session gets underway: Democrats wanting to move on from what happened last year and Republicans looking to go to battle on some of those familiar issues.
“What do you expect? You expect the majority to talk about coming together and you expect the minority to underline those differences that keep us apart for the next election cycle,” Singer said.
So, there will be fights and there will old battles revisited. But it sounds like lawmakers actually may be able get home before Letterman comes on TV, at least some of the time.
“Everybody said, 'Yeah it was so crazy,'” said Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, who was a freshman last year. “But how do I know? I thought this is how we always do this. But the idea of not being here from 7 in the morning to 10 at night every day. Wow, it sounds really intriguing to me.”
Well, that's a good thing. Because last year was draining for everyone: Lawmakers, their families, reporters ...
“Who cares how draining it was for reporters?” quipped a smiling Waller. “You get no love at all.”
This from the Republican Cubs fan whose team was badly beaten last year.
Vic Vela covers the Legislature for Colorado Community Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Vic on Twitter: @VicVela1.