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Sen. Pettersen makes history as one of first state lawmakers to give birth during Colorado legislative session

Davis James Silverii was born on Sunday. “He’s doing amazingly well and so is mom,” said Ian Silverii, the dad.

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Davis James Silverii was born at 7 pounds, 6 ounces and 20.75”, on Sunday. “He’s doing amazingly well and so is mom,” said Ian Silverii, husband of Sen. Brittany Pettersen. (Handout)

State Sen. Brittany Pettersen made history late Sunday when she gave birth to her son, becoming one of the first state lawmakers in Colorado history to give birth during the course of a legislative session. 

Davis James Silverii was born weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces and measuring 20.75 inches. 

“He’s doing amazingly well and so is mom,” said Ian Silverii, Pettersen’s husband and a Democratic operative who runs the organization ProgressNow Colorado. “We are so in love with our little boy.”

Pettersen, a Lakewood Democrat, is expected to miss at least a month of the 120-day legislative session as she recovers and cares for Davis. 

The Colorado legislature doesn’t have a maternity leave policy, meaning that the Senate Democratic Caucus will have to adapt to accommodate Pettersen. She cannot vote remotely, and thus plans to return to the Capitol as soon as possible — with Davis — to take votes on the floor. 

With Pettersen out, the Senate Democratic caucus’ majority shrinks to 18-16 from 19-16. All legislation needs at least 18 votes to pass the chamber’s floor, meaning that Democrats can’t afford to have any members defect on a policy if they want it to pass — or they will need at least one Republican’s support. 

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said some legislation might be delayed until Pettersen returns if there are doubts about having enough votes to pass.

Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, says he aims to ensure Pettersen has a smooth transition. “Senate leadership is 100% committed to working with Sen. Pettersen and supporting her during this transition,” he said. “Our goal is to promote families and protect diversity in our chamber.”

Senate Democrats were anxious that they might temporarily lose their majority in the chamber with Pettersen being absent and the resignation of Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver. With both lawmakers out, they would fall below the 18-vote threshold needed to pass bills.

However, Court’s replacement — former Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver — was sworn in on Tuesday morning. Hansen was picked by a vacancy committee last week to fill Court’s seat.

Updated on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, at 7:50 a.m.: This story has been updated to correct that Sen. Brittany Pettersen is one of the first women to give during during a legislative session in Colorado. Colorado Public Radio reports that then-Denver Sen. Barbara S. Holme delivered her son just two days before the legislative session ended in 1981. 

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