Capitol Pulse: Polis vs. the Legislature, inside the power dynamics
The opening days of the legislative session and the governor's second term are offering clues to a key question that will shape state policy for the next two years: Who's in charge?
Why it matters: The power dynamics at the Capitol are everything. Democrats wield more influence than ever — but that doesn't mean party members sing the same tune.
- Where they agree and where they split will decide what bills and budget items pass and which don't, John writes.
Catch up quick: Gov. Jared Polis, a former congressman, put his legislative experience to use in his first term to influence most bills lawmakers introduced.
- Yet he ruffled feathers with a my-way-or-the-highway approach and split the party with conservative policy stances on taxes and regulations.
What's new: Polis is making clear he remains in charge, but that may not sit well with the remade General Assembly. A larger and more vocal far-left faction among Democratic lawmakers is shifting the dynamic and prepared to clash with Polis on a host of issues, from finances to guns.
What they're saying: "On some issues we will push him. On other issues, he's going to push us. That's Jared Polis," Senate President Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) tells us.
The other side: Republican lawmakers tell Axios Denver they are skeptical that Polis will play moderator, but advocates are stoking the fire
- Michael Fields said his conservative Advance Colorado Institute shares many of Polis' policy goals, such as lower taxes, addressing crime and improving education. But to accomplish them, it "will require the governor to be the check and balance to an overreaching Legislature," he said.
The intrigue: For the prior two years, Denver's Alec Garnett played mediator between the governor and lawmakers as House speaker. Now, he's on the other side as Polis' chief of staff.
- His knowledge of the Legislature and connections could smooth any political wrinkles.
🏁 Capitol Pulse is a weekly feature to catch up quick on what's happening at the Legislature.
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