Sunday, January 9, 2005
Consider This for January 9, 2005—The Session Begins
The second session of the 65th General Assembly of the State of Colorado will begin this Wednesday promptly at 10 a.m. with Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff banging the gavel to mark the event.
I am always reminded of the auctioneer at a cattle auction saying, “Head ‘em up, boys, and move ‘em on out.” Not that state legislators are cattle, but keeping them in line is about like herding cats. Each member believes he or she is ordained by God to do certain things, and “Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead.”
The session lasts 120 calendar days. Not work days. That means we start on the second Wednesday of January and go to the second Wednesday in May. We start in the cold of the Stock Show in January and finish in a building that is nearly 100 years old and without air conditioning. Talk about contrasts.
The session schedule was originally created to make being a legislator more farmer friendly. That was back in the day when most of the legislators had real jobs and were not professional politicians. Christmas and New Year’s holidays were over, and there were 120 days in the interim before planting to get some lawmaking done.
If you ever get to the capitol, try to go to the committee meeting rooms in the House and the Senate to see the photographs of people who served in the 19th and 20th centuries. I always get a kick out of how the most radical change in clothing occurred in the 1970s during the most recent revolution.
I laugh when I see how the legislators dressed in leisure suits in bright pastels. I can relate to them because that is what I was wearing too. I just did not sit down long enough to let someone take my picture and then hang it in the capitol.
If you stare at the pictures long enough, you can almost hear the disco music. You young people might have to look up disco in the dictionary to know what I am talking about.
Another interesting thing is to compare the few women in the legislature in the early days to the many women serving today. Colorado ranks near the top for having the most women legislators. What a great honor.
I will tell you a secret if you promise not to tell anyone. Women make better legislators than men do. [They probably don’t make very good men either.] They are smarter and more even-tempered than men. Some of my best friends down there are women. They might not know it, but when I stand next to them and listen to what they are saying, it makes me look better.
Sorry to be so sexist, men.
I have decided not to live in Denver during the session. I did that last spring, and I thought it was a major waste of time. I am going to teach two nights in Breckenridge at CMC, so that only leaves two other nights that I could stay in Denver if I wanted to. I don’t want to. I prefer to sleep in my own bed whenever I can, and my bed is in Breckenridge.
As a freshman legislator I was told to look at lawmaking with these priorities: 1. Yourself. The person you sleep with every night and the person you shave in the mirror in the morning. You have to live with your decisions and agree with what you are doing. If you do not, you are being very untruthful and unethical. 2. Your constituents. The people who live in your district. The people who voted for you and even the people who did not vote for you. Meet with the community as much as possible. Take time to listen to the person at Safeway or Wal-Mart who wants your attention. And then vote the way they are asking you to vote. 3. Your party. This is the lowest priority.
When I tell people this, they laugh, but it is true. My party never asked me to vote in a certain way yet. Individuals will ask me to support their bills, but when that happens I go back to priority number one. How does number one constituent feel about the issue? That is how I will vote.
Speaking of priority number two. I am in the phone book and check my e-mail about twenty times a day. Let me know how you feel. It is very important to me.