Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper calls 2017 legislative session “most productive” in 7 years; hints at special session

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called the recently-wrapped up 2017 legislative session the “most productive” in his seven-year tenure, but that he might call a special session to get more done on transportation, health care and the Colorado Energy Office.

Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State luncheon, May 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

chamber of commerce; downtown; colorado; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; governor john hickenlooper;
Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State luncheon, May 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) chamber of commerce; downtown; colorado; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; governor john hickenlooper;
Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State luncheon, May 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called the recently-wrapped up 2017 legislative session the “most productive” in his seven-year tenure.

But that didn’t stop Colorado’s top elected Democrat from saying he wished the General Assembly got more accomplished on transportation, health care and the Colorado Energy Office and that he might call a special session to address those issues.

Hickenlooper made the comments Thursday during the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State luncheon, his first public review of the 2017 legislative session after the General Assembly adjourned Wednesday.

“I think the issues we didn’t get done are significant. I’ve already been asked by every reporter in town whether the legislators are going home for the next eight months or whether we may desire to have a further conversation with them,” Hickenlooper said. “I did jokingly tell several legislators last night maybe they shouldn’t make any vacation plans in May.”

Hickenlooper said a decision hasn’t been made on whether he’ll call a special session or not, but his office is “really evaluating the options and really trying to figure out what is the best solution or the best path forward for the framework Coloradans come first.”

Senate President Kevin Grantham was less than anxious to get back to work this year.

“I appreciate the governor’s desire to get things done,” the Cañon City Republican said in a statement. “But we had an opportunity for him to have engaged on these issues during a 120-day session, and now it’s Day 121. Unless the governor can point to successes on any of these issues he’s guaranteed to have, he’ll just be wasting taxpayer dollars.”

Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State luncheon, May 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) chamber of commerce; downtown; colorado; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; governor john hickenlooper;
Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State luncheon, May 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A plan to have voters weigh in on funding transportations projects through a 0.62 percent increase in the state sales tax and a $100 million annual allocation from the general fund to support a $3.5 billion bond program died in a Republican-controlled Senate committee last month.

Hickenlooper says that legislators did little this year to address the $9 billion gap in the state’s transportation system. He was also less than pleased with what lawmakers accomplished on “modest, common-sense (health care) proposals that would have led to more affordable options, more transparency to consumers, lower insurance premiums in high-cost rural areas.”

“It is disappointing, and — I would say — unnerving, that each of these health care bills passed the full House with Republican and Democrat votes, each had Republican sponsors in the Senate, but not one of them got out to the floor for a vote,” he said.

“If we can’t get some of this common sense stuff taken care of, our own challenges around controlling the inflation of health care costs are doomed for failure,” Hickenlooper added. “The help is not going to come from Washington. You may have missed this, they’re not going to get us there. We need to roll up our sleeves and understand we’re all in this together.”

Governor John Hickenlooper takes the stage at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State luncheon, May 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) chamber of commerce; downtown; colorado; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; governor john hickenlooper;
Governor John Hickenlooper takes the stage at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State luncheon, May 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The third sticking point for Hickenlooper came late Wednesday when lawmakers couldn’t compromise on fully funding The Colorado Energy Office. The office promotes innovative energy production and efficient energy consumption practices.

“You should have heard the speech I would have given if we hadn’t lost the Energy Office last night. I would have been rhapsodic about how non-partisan we are,” he said.

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Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or @adriandgarcia on Twitter.

Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia is on business and trends for Denverite, serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and on the board of the Denver Press Club. He can be reached at agarcia@denverite.com.