Tuesday’s election brought some very unexpected results at the national level, but here in Colorado, there were overall fewer surprises. We know that the Legislature will remain in split control with Democrats holding a majority in the House, and Republicans maintaining their control of the Senate. Senate Republicans will continue to outnumber Democrats by a slim 18-17, and it’s worth noting that Democrat Rachel Zenzinger beat incumbent Laura Woods in a hotly-contested Senate race in the Westminster and Arvada area. Many education stakeholders were watching this race in particular given Zenzinger’s background and commitment to public education, and her past support for K-12 issues when she previously served in the state Senate.
On the House side, Democrats will maintain control and widened their majority to 37-28.This morning, both parties from the House and Senate convened to elect leadership for each chamber. We’ve listed those positions below:
- Speaker – Representative Crisanta Duran (Denver)
- Majority Leader - Representative KC Becker (Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, and Jackson)
- Assistant Majority Leader – Representative Alec Garnett (Denver)
- Caucus Chair - Representative Daneya Esgar (Pueblo)
- Assistant Caucus Chair – Representative Jeni James Arndt (Larimer)
- Whip—Brittany Pettersen (Jefferson)
- Joint Budget Committee members – Representative Millie Hamner (Summit) and Representative Dave Young (Greeley). Both are current JBC members.
- Minority Leader - Representative Patrick Neville (Douglas)
- Assistant Minority Leader - Representative Cole Wist (Arapahoe)
- Caucus Chair - Representative Lori Saine (Weld)
- Whip - Representative Perry Buck (Larimer and Weld)
- Joint Budget Committee – Representative Bob Rankin (Garfield, Moffat, and Rio Blanco). He is a current JBC member.
- Minority Leader – Senator Lucia Guzman (Denver)
- Assistant Minority Leader – Senator Leroy Garcia (Pueblo)
- Whip – Senator Mike Merrifield (El Paso)
- Caucus Chair – Senator Lois Court (Denver)
- New Joint Budget Committee member – Senator Dominick Moreno (Adams, Commerce City, Federal Heights, and Westminster)
- President – Senator Kevin Grantham (Clear Creek, El Paso, Fremont, Park, and Teller)
- President Pro Temp – Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld, and Yuma)
- Majority Leader – Senator Chris Holbert (Douglas)
- Assistant Majority Leader – Senator Ray Scott (Mesa)
- Caucus Chair - Senator Vicki Marble (Broomfield, Larimer, Weld)
- Majority Whip - Senator John Cooke (Weld)
- Joint Budget Committee – Senator Kent Lambert (El Paso) and Senator Kevin Lundberg (Larimer). Senator Lambert is a current JBC member and Senator Lambert is a new JBC member.
Committee assignments will be announced in the next couple of weeks, and given the number of new elected officials, coupled with the changes in leadership, we anticipate that committee membership will look different than it did in the 2016 session.
CASE has a long history of working well and closely with policymakers on both sides of the aisle, and that will continue to be the case this session and in the years to come. Particularly given the newly-elected officials in both chambers, one of our key priorities in the coming months will be to meet with these freshman Representatives and Senators, and help inform them about the critical issues facing public education and the role CASE plays in representing the school administrator voice.
In local communities, there were 44 school districts with a bond or mill levy override on the ballot. About two-thirds of school districts were successful in passing their ballot questions, which is what we typically see during election years. The Colorado School Finance Project has updated data about each district’s ballot initiative, and you can check out the results here. Colorado Public Radio also reached out to CASE Executive Director, Lisa Escárcega, to weigh in on the various bond or mill levy overrides across the state. To read her complete comments and the article's analysis in full, please click here.
Three seats at the State Board of Education were up in this election, and the District 6 race was one that many had their eye on. Democrat Rebecca McClellan ran against incumbent Republican Debora Scheffel, and political observers suspected Scheffel might be vulnerable and could lose her seat. The final results just over one percentage point apart, but Scheffel prevailed with 50.5% of the vote, compared to McClellan’s 49.95%. State Board chair and Republican Steve Durham and District 3 board member and Republican Joyce Rankin were both easily re-elected, so representation on the State Board remains unchanged.
Rounding out the election were a number of ballot measures, and results of particular interest to CASE members include:
- Amendment 69—State Healthcare System: defeated 79.6% to 20.3%
- Amendment 70—Increase Minimum Wage: passed 54.3% to 45.6%
- Amendment 71—Constitutional Initiatives: passed 56.8% to 43.1%
- Proposition 107—Allow Unaffiliated Voters in Primaries: passed 63.6% to 36.3%
- Proposition 108—Expand Unaffiliated Voting: 99% of votes in; looks to pass with 52.4% yes to 47.5% no