Thu January 10, 2013

Governor Outlines Priorities During 2013 State Of The State Address

Thursday’s State of the State address not only marked the passing of a challenging 2012, it also touched on a host of bills that Governor John Hickenlooper would like lawmakers to pass.

State Capitol reporter Bente Birkeland reports on the Governor's State of the State Address for Morning Edition

Colorado issues like civil unions, a lower tuition rate for illegal immigrant students who graduate from Colorado high schools, and a statewide standard for driving while high were all mentioned.

Hickenlooper also called for universal background checks for all gun sales. Aurora’s Mayor, police, and fire chief sat in the front row as the Governor honored their work in the aftermath of the theater shooting.

“We have an obligation to prevent similar tragedies, to do good, to bring light to darkness,” said Hickenlooper. “We have an obligation to represent the best that is Colorado. This isn’t a Democratic or Republican agenda. It’s a Colorado agenda. It’s our common mission.”

Democrats – who now control both chambers of the legislature – gave him a standing ovation when he said he supports background checks for gun purchases. Republicans stayed in their seats.

“We already have them. If you don’t believe me look at the 12,000 people waiting today to get their backgrounds checked for a legal gun purchase,” said Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman. “ What he’s talking about is private registration, it’s absolutely impossible unless the government’s going to go door to door to demand an inventory of private property. And God help us if that ever happens.”

Another state issue touched upon by the Governor was the energy boom brought about by hydraulic fracturing. He called for energy regulations to be fair, rational and based on science.

“We know one size doesn’t fit all, which is why the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission works with communities to create agreements and oversee local inspections. What doesn’t work is a patchwork of rules and regulations.”

Hickenlooper is a strong advocate of natural gas and has faced criticism from the environmental community for not doing enough to protect public health from hydraulic fracturing. Democrats plan to push through tougher regulations this session – something that could be a sticking point with the Governor.

With Democrats in charge, Governor Hickenlooper is likely to see more controversial bills reach his desk this year but he says that doesn’t bother him. In one lighthearted moment Hickenlooper joked that even though he’s technically in the middle of his first term, he prefers to think of it is a quarter of the way through his administration,  hinting that he’ll be back for re-election.