Colorado General Assembly

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Colorado General Assembly

Seal of Colorado.svg.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   8 years in the Senate, 4 terms (8 years) in the House
2014 session start:   January 8, 2014
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Leadership
Senate President:   Morgan Carroll (D)
House Speaker:  Mark Ferrandino (D)
Majority Leader:   Rollie Heath (D) (Senate),
Dickey Hullinghorst (D) (House)
Minority leader:   Bill Cadman (R) (Senate),
Brian DelGrosso (R) (House)
Structure
Members:  35 (Senate), 65 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art V, Colorado Constitution
Salary:   $30,000/year + per diem
Elections
Last Election:  November 6, 2012
18 seats (Senate)
65 seats (House)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Colorado Reapportionment Commission has control
The Colorado State Legislature is known as the Colorado General Assembly. It is a bicameral legislature, composed of the Colorado House of Representatives and the Colorado State Senate.

General legislative elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in each even-numbered year. The entire House is elected in each general election. Senators are elected in two classes such that, as nearly as possible, one-half of the senators are elected in each general election.

As of September 2014, Colorado is one of 13 Democratic state government trifectas.

See also: Colorado House of Representatives, Colorado State Senate, Colorado Governor

Sessions

Article V of the Colorado Constitution establishes when the General Assembly is to be in session. Section 7 of Article V states that the Assembly is to convene its regular session no later than the second Wednesday of January of each year. Regular sessions are not to exceed one hundred twenty calendar days.

Section 7 also states that the Governor of Colorado can convene special sessions of the General Assembly. Special sessions can also be convened by a two-thirds vote of the members of both legislative houses.

2014

See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to May 7.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included packages of bills for flood relief and wildfire mitigation.[1]

2013

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to May 9.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included gun control, immigration reform, election reform and the enactment of laws to regulate and tax legal marijuana.[2]

2012

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the General Assembly was in session from January 11 to May 9. A special session began May 14.[3]

2011

See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the General Assembly was in session from January 12 through May 11.

2010

See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the General Assembly was in session from January 13th to May 12th.

Role in state budget

See also: Colorado state budget

The state operates on an annual budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[4][5]

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in April.
  2. Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in August.
  3. Agency hearings are held in August and September.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in November.
  5. The legislature typically adopts a budget in May for the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

Colorado is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[5]

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget to the legislature, which must in turn adopt a balanced budget.[5]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. Among the challenges states faced were a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Colorado was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[6]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: Following the Money 2014 Report

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[7] According to the report, Colorado received a grade of B and a numerical score of 86, indicating that Colorado was "advancing" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[7]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Colorado was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data is to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[8]

Legislators

Salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Colorado legislature are paid $30,000 per year. They are also given per diem of $183 for members who live more than 50 miles from capitol and $45 for members who live 50 or fewer miles from capitol.[9]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Colorado legislators assume office on the first day of the first legislative session following the election (example January 12 of next year for the upcoming elections.)

Redistricting

See also: Redistricting in Colorado

Although the state legislature is responsible for drawing Congressional districts, the Colorado Reapportionment Commission is responsible for drawing state legislative districts. The Commission is comprised of four members appointed by the General Assembly, three appointed by the governor, and four appointed by the Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice.[10]

2010

Colorado's population increased from 4.30 million to 5.03 million between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.[11] Much of the state's 16.9 percent growth occurred in the I-25 corridor, on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Roughly half of the state's population increase was a result of Hispanic population growth. The Colorado Springs area and the southern Denver suburbs experienced the highest rates of population increase. Despite the fast rate of growth, Colorado did not gain another Congressional seat as a result of the new U.S. Census numbers.[12]

The Colorado Reapportionment Commission, which review plans drafted by both Republicans and Democrats, selected a Democratic plan for the new state legislative districts. Both parties filed lawsuits, and the Colorado Supreme Court rejected the plan. Subsequently, the Commission submitted a new reapportionment plan, also drawn by Democrats. This plan received the Supreme Court's approval.[13][14]

Senate

The Colorado Senate is the upper house of the Colorado General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Colorado. It is composed of 35 members elected from single-member districts. Each member represents an average of 143,691 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[15] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 122,893.[16] Senators are elected to 4-year terms, and are limited to 2 consecutive terms in office.


Party As of September 2014
     Democratic Party 18
     Republican Party 17
Total 35


The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Colorado State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Colorado State Senate.PNG

House of Representatives

The Colorado House of Representatives is the lower house of the Colorado General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Colorado. The House is composed of 65 members. Each member represents an average of 77,372 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[17] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 66,173.[18] Representatives are elected to 2-year terms, and are limited to 4 consecutive terms in office.

Party As of September 2014
     Democratic Party 37
     Republican Party 28
Total 65


The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Colorado State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Colorado State House.PNG

History

Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Colorado
Partisan breakdown of the Colorado legislature from 1992-2013

Colorado State Senate: From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Colorado State Senate for 11 years and the Democrats were the majority for the other 11 years. During the final nine years of the study, the Colorado senate was controlled by the Democratic party with the final year (2013) being a Democratic trifecta.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Colorado State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Colorado State House of Representatives for 15 years and the Democrats were the majority for the other seven years. During the final year (2013), Colorado was under a Democratic trifecta.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Colorado, the Colorado State Senate and the Colorado House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Colorado state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

Colorado was one of eight states to demonstrate a dramatic partisan shift in the 22 years studied. A dramatic shift was defined by a movement of 40 percent or more toward one party over the course of the study period. Colorado has shifted dramatically from Republican to Democratic control.

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Colorado state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Colorado has consistently ranked in the top-10 in the SQLI ranking during the period of the study, and also ranked in the top-5 for thirteen of the twenty years studied. The state has ranked 1st for two separate years (1997 and 2007), once under divided government and once under a Democratic trifecta. Colorado experienced its most precipitous drop in the SQLI ranking between 2009 and 2010, while still remaining in the top-10 of states. Republican trifectas occurred during the periods between 1999 and 2000 and again between 2003 and 2004, while Democratic trifectas occurred between 2007 and 2011 and again beginning in 2013 to the present. The state experienced a disruption in the Democratic trifectas between those periods when Republicans controlled the state house for two years, between 2010 and 2013.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 3.25
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 5.50
  • SQLI average with divided government: 4.69
Chart displaying the partisanship of Colorado government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Joint standing committees

The Colorado General Assembly has six joint standing committees.

External links

References

  1. reporterherald.com, "Flood-response issues to be a focus of Colorado Legislature's 2014 session," January 5, 2014
  2. kdvr.com, "Colorado’s historic 2013 legislative session in review," May 10, 2013
  3. Pueblo Chieftain, "Civil Union supporters rally prior to special session," May 14, 2012
  4. National Conference of State Legislatures "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 National Association of State Budget Officers "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  6. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  8. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  9. NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  10. Clear the Bench Colorado, "Redistricting versus Reapportionment - the confusion continues," April 20, 2011
  11. U.S. Census Bureau, "2010 Census: Colorado Profile," 2011
  12. National Journal, "Census Quick Cuts: Colorado, Washington, Oregon," February 24, 2011
  13. The Huffington Post, "Colorado Redistricting: Supreme Court Rejects New House, Senate District Maps (UPDATE)," November 29, 2011
  14. The Denver Post, "Colorado Supreme Court sides with Democrats, picks their maps for new legislative districts," December 12, 2011
  15. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed January 6, 2014
  16. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  17. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed January 6, 2014
  18. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001