I was sitting in on a caucus meeting of Colorado Senate Democrats the other day during the last day of the state's special legislative session. (Yes, legislative party caucus meetings in Colorado are, by law, open to the public.) Everyone had expected the session to wrap up that morning, but word had come from an absent senator that she could return the following day if someone would move to reconsider a marijuana DUI bill that had failed by a single vote the day before.
The reactions were quite interesting. Both party caucuses appeared already split on this issue, but the bill seemed to be losing support. Members had tried to pass the thing and fallen short, and they were not interested in prolonging their special session to address it yet again. This is a part-time legislature, and they had jobs, families, vacations, and lives to get back to.
But they couldn't state it quite like that. So one senator blasted the absentee senator for her irresponsibility, noting the "sacrifices" the rest of them had made to be present that week. Another suggested that they'd promised the people of Colorado that the special session would only be three days long, and to extend it to a fourth day would be breaking faith with their constituents.
Let me just say that I fully sympathize with part-time legislators being eager to end an already-extended legislative session. And while there might be good reasons to extend a session further, it wasn't obvious that this bill would pass, and it wasn't obvious that this bill was even necessary. (Can't the police already arrest someone driving dangerously regardless of the content of their blood? And isn't the main problem with stoned drivers the fact that they're driving really, really slowly around town looking for stores that sell Doritos after 2AM?)
But I found the language being used to dress up this legislative decision as a tad silly. The number of Coloradans outside the statehouse who are okay with a three-day special session but irate over a four-day one can probably be counted on two hands.
In general, there seemed to be a huge disconnect between what the legislators were saying and what I imagine most people outside the chamber were thinking. I wasn't sure if this was a case of legislators having no idea what non-political people think about, or if this was a case of trying to say "Can we go home yet?" in the most diplomatic possible language.