Redistricting big loose end for Legislature

DENVER — Three days remain in the 2011 legislative session, and one of the biggest things left to do is to decide how the state’s congressional districts should look for the next decade.

But whether Democrats and Republicans can come to a consensus remains to be seen.

Every morning last week, House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, and Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, met in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office to try to do just that.

But no one is saying much about what, if any, progress has been made.

“Both sides are having constructive conversations,” Hickenlooper said. “I’m trying to get us to the point where a compromise is possible. I’m hopeful.”

Original maps unveiled by the two sides were far apart, including one map that dramatically changed existing lines of the state’s seven congressional districts.

Since then, both sides have revealed maps that bring them closer together, but not close enough.

McNulty said the two sides spent the weekend going over their maps again, but regardless of that outcome, the House at least would begin floor debate on some sort of map Monday.

The Senate, too, is expected to debate its version of the map this week.

The Legislature has until Wednesday to do so. That’s when the session ends. Failing to complete a map could mean a special session, or the courts will decide its fate.

Other measures pending include a bill to allow the Colorado Division of Wildlife to expand bear hunting into the summer, a proposed ballot question to limit amendments that alter the state’s Constitution, and a proposal to change the makeup of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

That last item, introduced by Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, calls for increasing the size of the commission from nine to 11 members, requiring that six have expertise in the oil and gas industry.

After languishing on the House calendar for several weeks, legislators in that chamber approved it late Thursday on a 34–31 vote, with only one Democrat voting with Republicans for it.

The measure, however, is expected to be killed in the Democrat-controlled Senate this week.

Lawmakers are expected to give a final vote on a measure to consolidate the wildlife division with the Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. It requires a final Senate vote before it can go to the governor.

Last week, the House gave its final nod to a measure to allow Mesa State College to change its name to Colorado Mesa University. That bill is now on the governor’s desk, awaiting his signature.


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