Chris Romer

Chris Romer (born 1959)[1] is a former politician of the U.S. state of Colorado. Elected to the Colorado State Senate as a Democrat in 2006, he represented Senate District 32, which encompasses south Denver.[2]

Chris Romer
Chris Romer.jpg
Member of the Colorado Senate
from the 32nd district
In office
January 10, 2007 – January 12, 2011
Preceded byDonna R. Johnson
Succeeded byIrene Aguilar
Personal details
Born1959 (age 60–61)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Laurie Romer
Children3 daughters

On November 30, 2010, Romer announced his candidacy for Mayor of Denver.[3] He then resigned from the state senate, and, after qualifying for the runoff election, lost the race to Michael Hancock.


Born in Denver, the son of former Colorado governor Roy Romer,[4] Romer graduated from Graland Country Day School and Denver's East High School[5] and then attended Stanford University, earning a bachelor's degree in economics.[4]

Romer has helped to build several public-private mission-driven B-Corp companies, including Guild Education and Project Canary. Project Canary is a B-Corp with a mission to help the oil and gas industry reduce methane leaks and reduce its climate impact. Previously he worked as a financial consultant focusing on biomass energy plants and transit development projects such as Denver Union Station. Romer has worked as a public finance banker with JPMorgan Chase,[6] working on public projects including the Denver International Airport, Children's Hospital, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, National Jewish Medical and Research Center and FasTracks.[5]

In late 2008, Romer left his position at JPMorgan Chase to work with the Knowledge is Power Program, a Denver network of charter schools.[7] He was named the group's president in December 2008.[8]

At the age of 28, Romer founded the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation,[6] a non-profit providing mentoring and scholarships to at-risk children; he has also served as its president.[5] He has chaired the Colorado Children's Campaign and served on the boards of the Denver School of Science and Technology, the Metropolitan State College of Denver Foundation, and Open World Learning, as well as Denver's New America Schools,[6] where he spent two years as a volunteer superintendent.[5] He was also a founder and president of Great Education Colorado[6] which advocates for improved funding of Colorado schools and promotes education reform; in 2006, the group proposed an increase in severance taxes provide funding for public schools, but the measure was never placed on the statewide ballot.[9] Romer was also a leader behind Colorado's Amendment 23, a ballot measure approved by voters in 2000 which guarantees state funding levels for Colorado public schools,[5] and a member of the Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission.[6]

Legislative careerEdit

2006 electionEdit

Romer faced two other candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for the state senate — community activist Jennifer Mello and Rep. Fran Coleman. Romer emphasized his financial and budgetary expertise in the contest,[10] ultimately prevailing over both opponents in the historically Democratic district.[11] In the general election, Romer won election to represent the 32nd Senate District, defeating Republican Dave Lewis with 70 percent of the popular vote.[2]

In December 2006, outgoing Rep. Dan Grossman resigned from the legislature slightly before the end of his term because of newly enacted ethics laws. Instead of appointing Romer to the remainder of Grossman's term, Gov. Bill Owens appointed Donna R. Johnson, Grossman's long-time legislative aide, to the remaining month of the Senate term. Romer supported her brief appointment as a state senator and was sworn in himself on January 10, 2007.[12][13]

2007 legislative sessionEdit

In the 2007 session of the General Assembly, Romer served on the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and was vice-chairman of the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee.[14] During the session, Romer was also named the chair of a select Senate committee on renewable energy.[15]

During the 2007 legislative session, Romer introduced a proposal to sell operations of the Colorado Lottery to a private firm in order to raise funds for public schools.[16] The proposal would have been referred to Colorado voters in a statewide ballot measure, and would have used the proceeds from the sale to endow a trust fund to support college scholarships, public schools, state parks, and veteran's services.[17] After facing criticism on legal grounds, and from Governor Bill Ritter, who had offered a competing proposal for school funding, Romer pulled the measure from consideration.[18][19]

Romer also introduced a measure to require that Colorado high school students demonstrate English competency as a requirement for graduation. Garnering support largely from Republicans, the measure passed the state senate,[20] but was voted down in a house committee due to concern over mandating requirements upon local school districts.[21] Romer also joined Republicans in supporting a measure to enact statewide science and math standards,[22] and introduced a measure that created a pilot dual enrollment program for Colorado students.[23]

Although Romer made a number of proposals to amend the state budget, only one — a requirement that private prison operators provide information on cost breakdowns — was adopted.[24]

Following the regular session, Romer served on the legislature's interim committee on allocation of severance tax and federal mineral lease revenues.[25]

2008 legislative sessionEdit

In the 2008 session of the General Assembly, Romer served on the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, and was vice-chair of both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee.[26]

During the 2008 session, Romer floated a proposal to charge a toll Interstate 70 users traveling to mountain ski resorts during weekend rush hours as a way of reducing congestion; the proposal garnered a strong negative reaction and competing suggestions from members of the public. In response to the feedback, Romer proposed a mechanism for citizen participation in a collaborative online bill-drafting process, declaring "I want to have the first Wikipedia bill, where the citizens write the bill."[27] Romer proceeded to create a website using Google Groups[28] to solicit public comment and proposals; he later introduced a bill based in part of suggestions received online. The proposal would charge tolls to low-occupancy vehicles during peak hours, and create reversible HOV lanes.[29] The bill was denounced by legislators representing the I-70 mountain corridor, and was defeated in a house committee.[30] Romer then offered his support to a competing proposal to charge $5 tolls along I-70,[31] which ultimately died for lack of support.[32]

Romer also planned on sponsoring legislation to educate consumers on scams,[33] to create statewide high school graduation standards,[34] to allow homeowners to collect rainwater for irrigation,[35] and to eliminate CSAP testing for high school students.[36][37] Romer was also the senate sponsor of a proposal to increase severance taxes to provide additional funding for higher education,[38] and sponsored a successful bill creating the Colorado Clean Energy Finance Program to provide below-market rate loans to homeowners for energy efficiency projects.[39][40]

In the contested 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Romer supported Barack Obama.[41]

2009 legislative sessionEdit

For the 2009 session of the Colorado General Assembly, Romer was named to seats on the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Education Committee, where he served as vice-chair.[42]

After several deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in his district, Romer pressed for quick consideration of a bill to require carbon monoxide detectors in new homes at the start of the 2009 session;[43] Romer was the bill's Senate co-sponsor.[44] Romer also floated a proposal to alter the inflation formula used to allocate money to education under Colorado's Amendment 23, in order to increase the legislature's flexibility in allocating funds.[45]

Romer introduced legislation changing taxi cab regulations, attempting to increase competition by shifting burden of proof onto parties opposing new cabs.[46] The bill had bi-partisan support.

As part of a comprehensive education package, Romer sponsored Senate Bill 256 which overhauls the state’s education system by rewarding student and teacher performance.[47] Romer remarked, “I think you will hear about this around the country. This is a good move for Colorado and is a big, big deal”.[48]

A bill introduced by Romer to allow in-state tuition to immigrant children, after being amended to become effective upon passage of the federal DREAM Act, failed in the Senate.[49]

2010 legislative sessionEdit

In the 2010 session of the General Assembly, Romer served on the Senate Business, Labor and Technology committee, the Senate Health and Human Services committee, and the Senate Local Government & Energy committee.

During the 2010 session, Romer introduced legislation that would provide tax credits to businesses who re-hire laid-off workers.[50] According to the bill’s note, 7,300 workers would be rehired sooner because of the incentives provided.[51]

Romer introduced Senate Bill 109, the first regulatory medical marijuana bill in the country, stating “I think this is the beginning of the end of the Wild West”.[52] After some heated controversy, Romer helped negotiate a compromise in the legislature,[53] and the Bill was signed into law on June 7, 2010.[54]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2011-06-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b "State Senate District 32". COMaps. Archived from the original on 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  3. ^ "Romer Launches Campaign for List of mayors of Denver". Chris Romer for Mayor. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  4. ^ a b "Senator Chris Romer". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2008-02-06.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b c d e "About Chris". Chris Romer - Colorado Senate District 32. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Chris Romer - Colorado - State House District 32 candidate". Archived from the original on 2007-07-29. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
  7. ^ Masse, Barry (8 January 2009). "Adviser central to N.M. bond". Denver Post. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Nancy (30 December 2008). "Charter schools network looks to grow with Romer at helm". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  9. ^ Prieto, Bianca (17 February 2006). "Oil, gas tax aimed at fixing schools". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2008-02-09.[dead link]
  10. ^ Frates, Chris (30 July 2006). "Vote 2006". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  11. ^ Couch, Mark (9 August 2006). "Romer wards off two-rival challenge". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  12. ^ Washington, April M. (29 December 2006). "Aide replacing senator". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on January 2, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  13. ^ "Senate Journal - January 10, 2007" (pdf). Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  14. ^ "Senate Committees of Reference". Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
  15. ^ Staff Reports (18 January 2007). "Under the dome, 1/9". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  16. ^ Couch, Mark (18 April 2007). "Lotto holds schools' ticket?". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  17. ^ Couch, Mark (17 April 2007). "'Lump sum' from privatized lottery eyed". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  18. ^ Couch, Mark (20 April 2007). "Accusations over lottery plan". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  19. ^ Brown, Jennifer (20 March 2007). "Senate: Grads need English". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  20. ^ Brown, Jennifer (13 April 2007). "English effort is written off". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  21. ^ Brown, Jennifer; Karen Rouse (7 March 2007). "More math, science up schools' $$$". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  22. ^ Staff Reports (15 March 2007). "Under the dome, 3/15". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  23. ^ Couch, Mark (18 April 2007). "State workers, prisons come out ahead in budget". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  24. ^ "Allocation of Severance Tax and Federal Mineral Lease Revenues". Colorado Legislative Council. Archived from the original on 2007-12-26. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
  25. ^ "Senate Committees of Reference". Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
  26. ^ Barge, Chris (29 January 2008). "I-70 fee idea angers skiers". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  27. ^ Fix I-70 Now | Google Groups
  28. ^ Ingold, John (13 March 2008). "Draft bill on I-70 toll broadsided". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  29. ^ Barge, Chris (27 March 2008). "Romer's I-70 toll bill shot down, alternative passes; take our poll". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  30. ^ Barge, Chris (28 March 2008). "Romer's I-70 toll bill shot down, alternative passes; take our poll". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  31. ^ Gathright, Alan (24 April 2008). "Sponsor kills own plan for highway toll". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
  32. ^ Migoya, David (13 December 2007). "Agency seeks funds to keep consumers aware". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  33. ^ Brown, Jennifer; John Ingold (17 January 2008). "Ritter: Shift students' course". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  34. ^ Slevin, Colleen (7 February 2008). "Senators want to let residents collect rainwater". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  35. ^ Davidson, Michael (18 April 2008). "Bill may end CSAP in high schools". Colorado Springs Gazette. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  36. ^ Hanel, Joe (18 April 2008). "Bill dumps CSAPs". Durango Herald. Retrieved 2008-04-20.[dead link]
  37. ^ Chakrabarty, Gargi; Todd Hartman (21 March 2008). "Proposal aims to raise taxes on oil, gas industry". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  38. ^ Moore, Paula (28 May 2008). "Governor signs business bills". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-06-13.
  39. ^ Fryar, John (28 May 2008). "Bill boosts home energy projects". Longmont Times-Call. Retrieved 2008-06-13.[permanent dead link]
  40. ^ Hubbard, Burt (12 April 2008). "State's top Dems split in allegiance". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  41. ^ Jensen, Erika (13 November 2008). "Senate Democrats Announce Committee Assignments". The Cherry Creek News. Archived from the original on January 9, 2009. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  42. ^ Sealover, Ed (8 January 2009). "Romer seeks quick action on carbon monoxide detectors". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  43. ^ Hoover, Tim (13 January 2009). "Push for detectors skips hotels". Denver Post. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  44. ^ Bartels, Lynn (27 January 2009). "Senator offers plan to free $100 million for schools". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
  45. ^ "Taxi cab regulations" (PDF). Colorado State Legislature. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  46. ^ "Senate Bill 256" (PDF). Colorado State Legislature. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  47. ^ Kosena, Jason. "Panel OK's School Finance Act". Colorado State Legislature. Archived from the original on 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  48. ^ Hoover, Tim (2009-04-06). "'Tuition equity' bill fails in Senate". Denver Post.
  49. ^ "SB133" (PDF). Colorado State Legislature. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  50. ^ Goodland, Marianne. "Bill would allow tax credits for rehiring laid-off workers". Archived from the original on 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  51. ^ Luning, Ernest. "Medical marijuana bill passes first hurdle". Archived from the original on 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  52. ^ Luning, Ernest. "Romer med marijuana bill up in smoke". Archived from the original on 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  53. ^ "SB133" (PDF). Colorado State Legislature. Retrieved 2010-11-14.

External linksEdit