Earlier this week, 86 of the 100 state lawmakers in Colorado signed a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper stating their concerns about the leadership of the Department of Human Services.

The letter details a long list of issues, from the culture of the department to complaints received by constituents throughout the state.

I can’t imagine that 86 lawmakers would sign onto a letter if real problems didn’t exist, but I found the strategy of sending the letter only a week after the session ended as odd.

To his credit, Hickenlooper has approached the letter with a serious attitude and is open to finding solutions. But he has defended the head of the Department of Human Services, Reggie Bicha, saying that he is not going to ask him to step down.

The letter included a complaint from lawmakers who said they asked to meet with the governor and his staff but their requests were allegedly ignored.

Again, while I do not know for sure how the governor’s staff handled requests, it doesn’t seem that meeting with the governor or his staff over the last five months would be difficult. Perhaps I am wrong.

But my question is if lawmakers were able to find such bipartisan cooperation as to get 86 signatures on the same letter, why couldn’t they pass any bills or resolutions themselves to address issues?

This is the same legislature that didn’t have a problem considering a bill that moved the child services ombudsman from the executive branch to the judicial branch, so obviously, they aren’t shy on the issue.

It’s also not like the late April schedule scared any legislator from presenting new bills as a flurry of proposals marked the last 10 days of the session.

It seems to me that the letter was less about seeing actual progress on issues and more about a referendum on the Executive Director of the department, Reggie Bicha.

Whether deserved or not, there are few other reasons that lawmakers would wait until the session ended and deliver a letter to the governor unless it was about the one issue they could not address themselves.

Since Bicha officially sits on Hickenlooper’s cabinet, the legislature can’t really touch him. Again, I do not know any of the details of the interactions between lawmakers and Bicha or his staff, but something must be seriously amiss to cause this strategy.

Technically, this can simply be an odd strategy and lawmakers truly thought this was the best way to handle it.

But after a very busy session where lawmakers were more than happy to tackle issues ranging from high school mascots to yoga instruction, it seems that if issues within the Department of Human Services merited more attention, lawmakers could have found more time to address them.

Is a letter to the governor really the best way?

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning “Colorado Inside Out” on Colorado Public Television.


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