Colorado General Assembly

From Ballotpedia
Revision as of 14:05, 25 June 2013 by Joel Williams (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
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
2015 session start:   January 9, 2013
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Brandon Shaffer (D)
House Speaker:  Frank McNulty (R)
Majority Leader:   John Morse (D) (Senate),
Amy Stephens (R) (House)
Minority Leader:   Bill Cadman (R) (Senate),
Mark Ferrandino (D) (House)
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
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 April 2015, Colorado is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.


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.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 through 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.[1]


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.[2]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

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


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

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


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 was 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.[3]

Role in the State Budget

Main article: Colorado state budget

By November 1st of every year, the General Assembly of Colorado receives an annual budget proposal from the Governor. The annual budget proposal is for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1st. The General Assembly then revises this budget over the course of the next couple of months. In May, the General Assembly votes on a budget.[4]

The General Assembly of Colorado has struggled to pass balanced budgets amidst one bad economic forecast after another. The Colorado Generally Assembly had just ended its session on May 6, 2009 having addressed a $1.454 billion, two-year shortfall[5] when a subsequent economic forecast on June 22, 2009 showed a new state deficit well over $300 million.[6] Bill Ritter announced on August 18, 2009 his plan to close the latest $320 million budget gap for the current FY 2010 (July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010).[7]



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.[8]

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.)


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.[9]


Colorado's population increased from 4.30 million to 5.03 million between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12][13]


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.[14] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 122,893.[15] Senators are elected to 4-year terms, and are limited to 2 consecutive terms in office.

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 17
     Republican Party 18
Total 35

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.[16] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 66,173.[17] Representatives are elected to 2-year terms, and are limited to 4 consecutive terms in office.

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 37
     Republican Party 28
Total 65


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 have 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

Joint standing committees

The Colorado General Assembly has six joint standing committees.

External links