Resolution is brief break from brawling
Column by Vic Vela
On the heels of a contentious week in the General Assembly that involved some heavy-duty debate on — you guessed it — gun-control issues, there came a moment where even the hardest of the hard-nosed legislators shared some ... um, love?
No, really. It was straight out of a Disney movie. The only thing missing was an Elton John soundtrack.
“We had been fighting all week and we came together,” said Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada. “Even when I left the floor I still was in tears.”
Kraft-Tharp was referring to her fellow legislators' gushing support of a resolution that she sponsored in the House of Representatives, which proclaimed Feb. 20 as Awareness Day for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities.
The resolution recognized persons with developmental disabilities, as well as those who provide services to members of that community.
“It was a moment for us to recognize the courage of people with these disabilities,” Kraft-Tharp said.
The resolution proved to be a tearjerker for a few House members, some of whom shared personal accounts of how disabled persons have had positive impacts on their lives.
Rep. Lois Landgraf said her 40-year-old son has been developmentally challenged since he suffered a brain injury at the age of 17.
“From a grateful mother, thank you,” the teary-eyed Fountain Republican told Kraft-Tharp.
But perhaps the most touching moment came when Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, choked back tears as he recalled spending time with a young, mentally disabled girl named Lisa, while he worked in a “hay-hauling” business as a young man.
“Every time she saw me, she'd come up to me and say, `I love you, Jim Wilson,'” he said. “And it irritated the heck out of me because that's the way it was supposed to be when you're a macho guy.”
Wilson said that the type of “unconditional love” he received from Lisa “needs to be in this chamber, in this state,” and that, in a sense, people with developmental disabilities are “a gift from God.”
“They teach us what we forget when we get older and become jaded,” Wilson said.
It's not every day when all lawmakers agree on … well, anything. So it was refreshing to see the two sides take a break from the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot-like action that's been going on lately - albeit, temporarily.
By the way, Sen. Andy Kerr co-sponsored the resolution that honored members of the developmentally disabled community. Perhaps he came up with the idea while he was on one of his many bike rides to the Capitol.
The Lakewood Democrat has set a personal goal to ride his specialized, Roubaix brand road bike to work, for at least half of the days of this legislative session.
Kerr has been using Twitter to provide updates on his efforts.
“It's a good way to put pressure on myself,” Kerr said. “And it's a good way to get the word out that it's a viable and healthy way to get to your job.”
Now, I walk several blocks from my place to the Capitol every day. But that effort seems puny in comparison to a guy who rides his bike all the way from Lakewood. With all these marathon-like legislative sessions going on in the Capitol these days — and all the free food being carted in on a daily basis — it's no wonder that lawmakers like Kerr grab hold of every exercise opportunity that they can.
“I'm not Akin, man.” — Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, Feb. 19.
It was a rough week for Joe Salazar.
The freshman Democrat found himself embroiled in a controversy — one that garnered national attention, especially in conservative media outlets — over a rape comment that he made during a recent floor debate on a bill that seeks to ban concealed weapons from being carried on college campuses.
Republicans have pounced on the comment, likening it to failed Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's infamous interview from last year, where he said that women who are victims of “legitimate rape” don't get pregnant.
Salazar has since apologized for his comments, and has said that Republicans are playing politics with his unfortunate comment, as Colorado Community Media reported in a previous story.
I recently took part in an interview about the Salazar controversy with Colorado Public Radio's Bente Birkeland, and the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels. You can find that conversation at www.kunc.org/post/capitol-conversation-rape-comment-enters-colorado-gun-debate
From Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Littleton:
“Been around horse**** all week, I needed some gun powder to balance it out.”
Lawrence posted a picture with her tweet that showed her holding a gun on what looks to be a shooting range.
Now, the question is: Was she literally referring to being around manure all week, or was she opining on some of the stuff being said during debates of the gun bills?
I'll just leave that one up to your imagination.
Vic Vela is the legislative reporter for Colorado Community Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his legislative updates and stories on Twitter: @vicvela1