Opening day in the Colorado state Senate began with lots of families and friends and the usual pomp and circumstance.
Still, there were a few departures from the norm in Friday's first day of the 2019 legislation session.
Incoming Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo made it an unofficial "Pueblo Day," with a color guard from his hometown, singers presenting the National Anthem, and the invocation given by a priest from one of the local churches where Garcia can be found on Sundays, playing the piano for mass.
He started out his opening day speech with a shout-out to those in Pueblo who could not be at the Capitol to see his swearing-in, the first Hispanic Senate president and a son of immigrants.
And then there was a notable absence.
Republican Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who spent most of the 2018 session fending off charges (found credible in two investigations) that he had sexually harassed at least two women at the Capitol, was excused from participating in the opening day festivities and was a no-show.
Baumgardner has announced he will step down from his Senate seat on Jan. 21, and a replacement -- current state Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale -- has already been chosen to take the seat.
Garcia, in his remarks, called for unity and an end to the "gamesmanship" and partisan fighting that he said has marked the Senate for the past four years.
At just 10 minutes, the speech was succinct and light on specifics on the Senate Democrats' agenda.
He spoke about the value of hard work, service and honor, lessons he learned as a Marine and now hope to bring to the Senate leadership.
"We understood we had a collective mission and have each other's back," he said, adding that a spirit of collaboration needs to come back to the Capitol.
"We've allowed political parties to divide us," he said. "Our state deserves better. Our constituents expect more from us. Unlike Washington, D.C., this Senate must bring new energy."
A spirit of trust and respect, he said, will lead to common ground and solutions. Coloradans "didn't elect us for gamesmanship," Garcia added. Senators were elected to reach across the aisle and to find solutions that will help Coloradans live their American dream, he said.
Garcia briefly touched on issues such as the cost of health care, the opioid crisis, education, student loan debt and equal pay for equal work, although without specifics on bills or who would carry them in the 2019 session.
Garcia said he wants the Senate to be a place "where we return to the tradition of honor."
There's an old saying that that majority has its way and the minority has its say. Minority Leader Chris Holbert's 30-minute speech Friday, three times the length of the Senate President's remarks, demonstrated that.
Holbert began with a history lesson on Colorado and the processes embedded in the General Assembly, a topic he regularly talks about on social media. But then he launched into what his caucus will do in 2019, and that means holding the majority accountable for the "increasing number of dollars we take" in taxes
"People have said 'no' to higher taxation until we provide better return for their taxes," he said, a reference to November's failed ballot measures that would have raised taxes for transportation and schools.
"We have the voice but not the votes," he said, which gives the Senate Republicans a "unique opportunity to demonstrate effective leadership."
To Garcia, Holbert said that "seeing you take that gavel this morning gives me confidence that the 'adults in the room', as referenced by former capitol reporter Peter Marcus, will continue to be found here in the upper chamber, the Senate."
But he also asked Garcia to be the guardian against overreach, a nod to the 2013 session when two Democratic senators were recalled over gun control legislation.
He told Garcia that Republicans would look to him "to be the gauge for how far left or right we might journey over the next two years."
Holbert also outlined some of the priorities for Senate Republicans, including a bill to put $336 million into roads and bridges and another with an equal amount to buy down the so-called budget stabilization factor, a debt owed to the state's 178 school districts since the 2008 recession.
He also advocated for a reduction in compliance regulations for rural school districts, a bill to be championed by Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs.
Holbert also spoke against some of the measures expected from Senate Democrats, such as a bill requiring employees to pay into a fund for paid time off for family or other emergencies, and against safe injection sites for drugs.
The House and Senate also held a brief joint session to certify election results for the five top statewide offices, which must be done before Gov.-elect Jared Polis can be sworn in next Tuesday.