Democrats, Women More Supportive of ‘Women’s Lobby’ Priorities Than Other Colorado Legislators, Scorecard Finds

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Democrats, Women More Supportive of ‘Women’s Lobby’ Priorities Than Other Colorado Legislators, Scorecard Finds

Jason Salzman

The Women’s Lobby of Colorado’s legislative scorecard shows that women and Democrats in the state legislature were more committed to "issues that are important to women" than Republicans and men, but, overall, little progress has been made on gender equity.

Women and Democrats in the Colorado legislature were significantly more likely to vote favorably on bills “reflecting women’s priorities in the state of Colorado” than Republicans and men, according to a scorecard issued Wednesday by the Women’s Lobby of Colorado.

The average score for a female state senator was 78 percent, while male senators scored 60 percent. Women in the state house averaged 18 percentage points higher than their male counterparts.

The gender gap in the state senate’s voting record disappeared when analyzed through a partisan lens, as male and female Republican senators averaged about the same (34 percent for men and 36 percent for women).

The lowest scores by a Republican woman in the state senate were given to state Sen. Vicki Marble of Ft. Collins, who logged 14 percent, followed by state Sen. Laura Woods of Westminster, at 29 percent. Woods’ senate seat is among the most hotly contested in Colorado, and the outcome of the race in Woods’ district will likely determine whether Republicans retain control of the Colorado senate next year.

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Democratic legislators outscored Republicans by a huge margin in supporting “issues that are important to women,” according to the scorecard. Sixteen of 17 Democratic state senators and 32 of 34 House Democrats got a perfect 100 percent score. No Republican scored above 73 percent.

The scores were based on votes on a set of bills focused on a variety of issues, including economic, health, and choice.

They included high-profile legislation, like a failed effort to fund Colorado’s teen pregnancy prevention program, and more under-the-radar measures like a bill, which passed overwhelmingly, allowing postponement of jury duty for breastfeeding.

The scorecard, which has tabulated since 2009, shows that Colorado’s legislature made little progress on gender equity in Colorado’s divided legislature, according Peg Perl, board chair of the Women’s Lobby of Colorado, which had both individual and organizational members.

“We were barely able to move the ball forward,” Perl said, noting that even though the average score of legislators doesn’t look so bad at 66 percent in each chamber, bills deemed good and bad by the Women’s Lobby were mostly defeated, often in party-line votes.

A no vote against a bad bill was scored favorably. The state house is controlled by Democrats, and Republicans hold a one-seat majority in the state senate.

“We had to spend time making sure we didn’t have forced ultrasounds,” Perl said. “I’m glad it didn’t pass. But it’s a hollow victory.”

Both the state house and senate scored higher last year, with the state house notching 71 percent in 2014 and the senate 72 percent. Both chambers were controlled by Democrats last year.

The Colorado Women’s Lobby is a coalition of organizations, mainly progressive, and individual members.