By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
A Senate committee yesterday killed a proposal to shorten the legislative session from 120 days to 100 days, arguing that there is no need to mandate a shorter session.
Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, proposed sending to voters a ballot question that would shorten the legislative session by 20 days. She and her supporters, including other rural lawmakers, say the shorter session would allow them to meet more with constituents. They also argue that the shorter session would force lawmakers to focus more on specific issues.
“Shortening the session will focus us, prioritize our legislative issue, and save taxpayers money,” said Schwartz. “But most importantly, it will also help legislators to get back to their districts and spend more time with their constituents better understanding their priorities.”
Critics, however, say there is no need to shorten the session since there are no current mandates about starting later or ending earlier.
Sen. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, pointed out that lawmakers already only meet about 86 of the 120 days.
“Nothing prohibits us from adjourning early or even starting later,” he said. “So, 120 days is not mandated, and since we have the prerogative, if we stopped introducing bills and had no business in the last 20 days, why we could get out. We already have that prerogative.”
Schwartz and her supporters, including Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, point to financial savings to the state if the session were shortened. By shortening the session by 20 days, the state would save more than $494,000 in lawmakers expenses and session-only staff, according to figures provided by supporters.
Sen. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, said he believes his constituents would support a shorter session.
“I keep hearing from constituents all the time, you guys need to do less and do it better,” he said. “And I think this will move us in that direction.”
The Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee killed the proposal 2-3.