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Hickenlooper Outlines Business Agenda for Session

Photo by Kirk Siegler
Governor John Hickenlooper spoke at the Denver Metro Chamber's annual legislative business briefing Monday at the Colorado Capitol.

 Governor John Hickenlooper told a crowd of business leaders at the state capitol Monday that the beleaguered state budget will likely be the source of the most heated debates in the upcoming legislative session.  But speaking at the Denver Metro Chamber’s annual business policy briefing, the Democrat urged lawmakers to work together to create a better environment for business growth.

Governor Hickenlooper renewed calls for civility among state lawmakers, even in an upcoming session that’s expected to be dominated by heated budget debates.  There are also four state lawmakers either running or considering a run for Congress.

"This is an election year so there might be a little steeper hill to climb to get that consensus around the budget," Hickenlooper said.

But the Governor told the chamber audience that compromises can happen that work well for businesses and the public; pointing to the recent brokering around a mandatory disclosure of fracking fluids in oil and gas drilling.

"Push people to the compromise," Hickenlooper said. "Try and maintain that willingness that we demonstrated last year that really does set Colorado apart and makes it an appealing place for people to start their businesses." 

The Denver Metro Chamber is one of the more influential lobbying operations around the state capitol.  The group has been instrumental in pushing through large policy initiatives in recent years; including a health care exchange and the FASTER bill which raises money to repair crumbling roads and bridges. 

The Chamber’s president Kelly Brough says this session, the business community will again be focused on health care and transportation as well as education and reducing the high school drop-out rate.

"We’re not sitting back this session and taking a year off," Brough said. "We’re coming in just as strong as ever because we do believe these changes are fundamental to our economic future."

The legislature convenes on Wednesday.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.