(Jan. 7) – The Colorado House of Representatives convened its 2015 session today and formally elected Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst as speaker, succeeding the term-limited Mark Ferrandino.

Speaker Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, and Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, are the first all-female legislative leadership team in Colorado history.

In her opening day speech, Speaker Hullinghorst called on Majority Leader Duran and Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, “to use all your powers of persuasion to forge bipartisan policy that will move our state forward.”

The new speaker noted that the November 2014 elections had produced a split legislature, with Democrats controlling the House and Republicans taking over the state Senate.

“There are those who say a split legislature will place many challenges in our path,” she told the House. “I prefer to regard these as opportunities to work together for all of our constituents.”

Speaker Hullinghorst said she will be placing her highest priority on strengthening Colorado’s middle class, which was buffeted by the Great Recession but largely has not felt the full effects of the state’s economic rebound.

“Our bottom line must be fighting for the middle class and all those who work hard to join it,” she told the House. “If our policymaking addresses the concerns and aspirations of regular Coloradans, if we test every bill and every vote by asking, ‘will this make life better for the greatest possible number of our fellow Coloradans,’ if we make it our goal to raise up the broad middle, then we as legislators are honoring our obligation to all the people of Colorado. Because when the middle class grows and thrives, all of Colorado benefits.”

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