United States: The 2016 Election Is (Finally) Over. Now What?

If you have watched television in the last few week, you may have noticed a pleasant lack of campaign advertisements during your favorite shows. Whether pleased or disappointed with the outcome, it is time to start thinking about what the 2016 election means for Colorado going forward. Below, we outline the results of the election in Colorado and discuss the potential impacts on the 2017 legislative session.

At the federal level, Colorado's representation is unchanged. Our seven members of the House of Representatives were all reelected somewhat comfortably even though two races in particular (Morgan Carroll (D) v. Rep. Mike Coffman (R) and Gail Schwartz (D) v. Rep. Scott Tipton (R)) were hotly contested. In the Senate, incumbent Michael Bennet (D) beat El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn (R). Lastly, the Centennial State gave its nine electoral votes to Secretary Clinton.

At the state level, voters again split control of the legislature between Democrats in the House and Republicans in the Senate. The Senate remains 18-17 in favor of the GOP, with Incumbent Laura Woods (R) falling to Rachel Zenzinger (D) in Jefferson County, but Rep. Kevin Priola (R) winning his race against Jenise May (D) in Adams County. In the House, three Democrats bested Republicans to increase their majority to 37-28. Those incoming legislators are Barbara McLachlan (Durango), Dafna Jenet (Adams County), and Tony Exum (Colorado Springs).

About a week ago, the four caucuses met to choose their respective leaders. Leadership for the First Regular Session of the Seventy-First General Assembly will be:

Senate Majority Republicans

  • President Kevin Grantham (Canon City)
  • President Pro Tempore Jerry Sonnenberg (Sterling)
  • Majority Leader Chris Holbert (Parker)
  • Assistant Majority Leader Ray Scott (Grand Junction)
  • Caucus Chair Vicki Marble (Weld County)
  • Whip John Cooke (Greeley)

Joint Budget Committee: Senators Kent Lambert (Colorado Springs) and Kevin Lundberg (Berthoud).

Senate Minority Democrats

  • Minority Leader Lucia Guzman (Denver)
  • Assistant Minority Leader Leroy Garcia (Pueblo)
  • Caucus Chair Lois Court (Denver)
  • Whip Mike Merrifield (Colorado Springs)

Joint Budget Committee: Dominick Moreno (Commerce City).

House Majority Democrats

  • Speaker Crisanta Duran (Denver)
  • Majority Leader K.C. Becker (Boulder)
  • Assistant Majority Leader Alec Garnett (Denver)
  • Majority Whip Brittany Pettersen (Lakewood)
  • Deputy Majority Whip Jovan Melton (Aurora)
  • Caucus Chair Daneya Esgar (Pueblo)
  • Assistant Caucus Chair Jeni Arndt (Fort Collins)

Joint Budget Committee: Representatives Millie Hamner (Frisco) and Dave Young (Greeley).

House Minority Republicans

  • Minority Leader Patrick Neville (Douglas County)
  • Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist (Centennial)
  • Whip Perry Buck (Windsor)
  • Caucus Chair Lori Saine (Dacono)

Joint Budget Committee: Bob Rankin (Carbondale)

Looking ahead, we expect that many of the issues debated last year will return in January. Legislation regarding K-12 funding, transportation bonding, construction defects reform, and changing the hospital provider fee to an enterprise is expected. In addition, the Governor's proposed $28.5 billion budget for 2018 includes a shortfall of about $500 million, which means the Joint Budget Committee will be tasked with serious cuts to keep the budget in balance. In terms of energy, we expect to see legislation regarding limitations on fracking and energy development. There is also discussion about potential increases to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, though, with Republicans controlling the Senate, there is less likelihood that such attempts would be successful.

Lastly, voters were faced with a long list of statewide ballot measures. Initiatives to reinstitute a presidential primary, make it harder to amend the constitution, allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections, increase the minimum wage, and permit medical aid in dying were approved. Voters rejected measures to increase the tobacco tax and create a single-payer health care system in Colorado.

All that being said, what does it mean for Colorado in 2017? Expect to see a stalemate on the bigger, contentious issues (i.e. fundamental, philosophical differences), and agreement on almost everything else. Last year, some 650 bills were introduced, and nearly 60% of those passed. Bipartisanship was alive and well at the Capitol, and we believe it will return when the Legislature convenes in January.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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