New Statehouse Majorities Push Major Policy Changes

People get what they voted for good and hard


Gun curbs? Colorado got it done.

Driver's licenses and in-state tuition for immigrants in the country illegally? Done. A new school-spending plan, an elections overhaul, Medicaid expansion? Done, done and done.

Democrats, with a majority in both houses of the Colorado legislature after years of shared control, seized all they could in a whirlwind legislative session that Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll described as "historically productive." Republican Sen. Bill Cadman, the minority leader, put a different headline on a brutal year for the GOP: "Democrats push radical crusade against Colorado."

Some 1,600 miles east, Raleigh, N.C., is Denver in reverse. North Carolina Republicans, who hold the legislature and the governor's office for the first time since 1870, are about to put a conservative stamp on education, tax policy, unemployment benefits and a range of social issues in a historically moderate state. There, it is Democrats who complain about being shut out of the debate.

Colorado and North Carolina stand out for their wide-ranging action, but they are part of a broader trend: In 37 states, one party now controls both the statehouse and governor's mansion, the most in 60 years. Both parties have used that power to make sweeping — and divergent —changes on a slew of issues, including guns, taxes, immigration, elections, gay marriage and more.