Where's the Civility? Hotheads Are Prevailing at the State Legislature

January 2011

Just one day after Frank McNulty pounded his gavel to quiet Democrats concerned about calculations involving the state budget, the Republican House speaker once again silenced a colleague from across the political aisle. This time it was Fort Collins Democrat John Kefalas, who wanted to know why the GOP was standing in the way of his resolution calling for civility among legislators, notes the Pueblo Chieftain. "In light of the fact that my request to have this resolution introduced at the beginning of the session has been denied," Kefalas began before McNulty interrupted, saying, "We're not going to start the morning this way." State Bill Colorado has video.

Since 2005, state lawmakers have adopted a pledge to be polite and respectful of each other despite their ideological differences. As House minority leader Sal Pace, a Pueblo Democrat says, "It's just a vow to the people of Colorado that we're going to work in a cooperative fashion." But that civility seems to be falling apart.

The recent behavior of Representative David Balmer, a Centennial Republican, has sparked an investigation in the state Senate, writes the Denver Post. A witness claims Balmer's "boisterous noise and a lot of hand gestures" toward Democratic Senator Gail Schwartz on the Senate floor after adjournment were unacceptable. As a result, a sergeant asked Balmer to leave. Schwartz, a Snowmass Village Democrat, sits on a 10-member panel of legislators tasked with redrawing congressional boundaries, which is co-chaired by Balmer.