DENVER (AP) – Democratic state Sen. Morgan Carroll became the second woman in Colorado history Wednesday to be selected Senate president, a position that became available with the recall ouster last month of former Sen. John Morse over new gun restrictions.
Carroll, who represents Aurora, was chosen unanimously by her colleagues during a brief meeting at the state Capitol. The other woman to hold the position was Democrat Joan Fitz-Gerald in 2007.
Republicans gained two lawmakers in the Senate with the recalls, but Democrats still control the chamber by one vote, meaning they get to select the chamber president.
Morse, of Colorado Springs, and Pueblo Democratic Sen. Angela Giron were voted out of office last month. They joined other Democrats this year in passing limits on the size of ammunition magazines and expanding background checks to private and online firearm sales. Both were responses to mass shootings last year at a suburban Denver movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.
“We’re all disappointed of course about the loss of two very good statespeople in the Senate going forward,” Carroll said. “Personally I don’t think a recall mechanism is the best way for us to resolve policy differences. But that said, our job is to move forward.”
Carroll is an attorney who previously served in the Colorado House. She held the position of Senate majority leader last session, so Democrats needed to choose a lawmaker to fill that post with Carroll’s promotion. They selected Boulder Sen. Rollie Heath, an Army veteran and former Colorado gubernatorial candidate.
Their appointments will become official in January when the Colorado Legislature convenes.
Carroll and Heath said they will focus on addressing any needs from the aftermath of natural disasters that have ravaged the state this year: Wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes in El Paso County and floods that damaged thousands of homes.
“This is a really somber time for the state,” Heath said. “The district that I represent in Jamestown, Lyons, and Longmont and the city of Boulder has taken some great hits. And of course we had the fires this summer and we still have issues around getting people back to work.”
“All of the things that I just mentioned are not partisan, they’re all bipartisan issues,” he added.
Carroll said she still believes the gun restrictions Democrats passed have widespread support in the state – a point Republicans dispute. She said overturning the laws “would be a clear step backwards.”
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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