Editor’s Note: State Bill premium subscribers may listen to or download the audio of the full Legislative Council hearing below.
By Don Knox, STATE BILL COLORADO
DENVER — Colorado’s capitol figures to be creepy-quiet this summer: For the first time in recent memory, no interim legislative committees will be convened.
The reason? The state’s continued budget woes.
The legislature’s leadership Monday signed off on a plan adopted earlier this year by its highest leaders – the House speaker, the Senate president and the majority and minority leaders.
The Legislative Council voted 13-2 to approve a decision made earlier by the council’s Executive Committee.
A slew of interim committees last summer, some budgeted and staffed and some not, produced more than 40 draft bills — the vast majority of which were introduced in Colorado’s General Assembly this year.
At Monday’s meeting, some legislators, including Sens. Betty Boyd and Nancy Spence, as well as Rep. Karen Middleton, quizzed their fellow legislators about whether some wiggle room might be allowed. They were told, in a word, no.
“What about committees that are funded with gifts, grants and donations and do not have staff?” Boyd asked Senate President Brandon Shaffer.
Shaffer replied that senators and representatives are welcome to carry resolutions encouraging or suggesting legislative support for interim committees, but the budget was set.
“One of the challenges, I’m told, there’s never been an interim committee that’s been funded with gifts, grants and donations where the funding actually showed up,” he added.
No one said it, but the lack of interim committees will give legislators who are running for re-election in the fall the ability to campaign without the obligation of returning to Denver for meetings.
In other news, the council voted to change a rule that required the legislature to publish a previously required legal notice announcing pre-publication efforts of the voter “blue book” required under state law.
The Denver Post has published the notice in the past at a cost of $2,000 to $5,000 to the state, Legislative Council Director Mike Maurer said. The council will save the money by using the Internet and e-mail to make the notification this year.