Group greetings

State Sens., from left, Julie C. Gonzales, D-Denver, Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, and Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver, confer as lawmakers convene for the new session in the Senate House chamber in the State Capitol Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Denver.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold's office approved the wording of a petition that seeks to recall state Senate President Leroy Garcia, clearing the way for signature gathering to begin.

The petition targeting the Pueblo Democrat was submitted by Victor Head, Susan Carr and Ernest Mascarenas with BadforPueblo.com.

The petition will need 13,506 valid signatures by Oct. 18. That's too late to get it onto the Nov. 5 general election ballot, so if the petition drive suceeds, a special election for the recall would be held.

The petition says Garcia "has voted against the best interest of his district by voting YES on SB 19-181 which would restrict oil and gas production in Colorado. According to one of Pueblo county’s (sic) largest employers, EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, these restrictions will threaten jobs and tax revenue in Pueblo county.

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"Garcia has betrayed the trust of his constituents by blatantly refusing to carry out the desires of the overwhelming number of the people he was elected to represent when 60% of Pueblo county voted no to similar oil and gas restrictions in proposition 112," the petition adds, referring to a failed measure on last November's ballot that would have severely restricted oil and gas operations.

"Leroy Garcia has cost taxpayers ten of thousands of dollars in legal fees from a lawsuit settlement, and put thousands more at risk from another lawsuit because he ignored legislative rules," the petition says.

"Because of his recklessness as Senate President, and his failure to represent the values and opinions of the citizens of the 3rd Senate district of the state of Colorado, we demand a recall election for Senator Leroy Garcia as the only reasonable and available means to defend the interest and values of the people of his district."

Garcia told Colorado Politics last week that he won re-election last November with nearly 74% of the vote. "I have a lot of support from Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. I don't think there's an appetite for taxpayers to pay up to $275,000 for a special election."

The recall group's objections stem from Garcia's vote on Senate Bill 181, which made sweeping changes to the state's regulatory structure for oil and gas operations. That's a big issue in Pueblo, Carr said last week, because it affects jobs, including at the steel mills that build pipes for oil production.

The lawsuit referenced in the recall is one filed by Senate Republicans last March over a 2,023-page bill that they requested be read at length. Senate Democrats set up a bank of computers with reading programs that read sections of the bill simultaneously, and Denver District Judge David Goldberg later ruled the reading unintelligible.

Senate Democrats appealed that ruling in June, saying the District Court violated the separation of powers "in creating standards for and directing implementation of legislative procedures that are within the province of the legislative branch," according to a June 28 motion.

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