Difference between revisions of "Colorado State Senate"

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Revision as of 21:50, 8 January 2014

Colorado State Senate

Seal of Colorado.svg.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   8 years
2015 session start:   January 9, 2013
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Morgan Carroll (D)
Majority Leader:   Rollie Heath, (D)
Minority Leader:   Bill Cadman, (R)
Members:  35
   Democratic Party (17) Republican Party (18)
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art V, Colorado Constitution
Salary:   $30,000/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012 (20 seats)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Colorado Reapportionment Commission
Meeting place:
Colorado State Senate Chamber.jpg
The Colorado State Senate is the upper house of the Colorado General Assembly, which is the state legislature of Colorado. The senate includes 35 state senators elected from single-member districts. Each of the 35 districts had an average of 143,691 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 122,893 residents.[2]

State senators are elected to four-year terms with term limits.[3]

The Colorado Senate convenes at the State Capitol in Denver.

As of April 2015, Colorado is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.


Article V of the Colorado Constitution establishes when the Colorado General Assembly, of which the Senate is a part, 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 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature is projected to be in session from January 8 to May 7.


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.[4]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 11 to May 9. A special session began May 14.[5]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

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


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

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

Ethics and transparency

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 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.[6]



See also: Colorado State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of Colorado State Senate were held in Colorado on November 6, 2012. A total of 20 seats were up for election. The signature filing deadline was April 2, 2012 and the primary date was June 26, 2012.

Colorado state senators are subject to term limits and may serve no more than eight years. In 2012, six senators were termed out.

The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.


See also: Colorado State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Colorado State Senator were held in Colorado on November 2, 2010. State senate seats in 19 of Colorado's 35 districts were on the ballot in 2010. Districts on the ballot are 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 20, 22, 24, 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was May 27, 2010, and the primary election day was August 10, 2010.

In the 2010 elections, the candidates running for senate raised $2,331,554 in campaign funds. The top 10 overall contributors were: [7]


See also: Colorado State Senate elections, 2008

Elections for the office of Colorado State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 12, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008. Nineteen seats were up for election.

During the 2008 elections, the total contributions to Senate candidates was $2,735,632. The top 10 contributors were:[8]


See also: Colorado State Senate elections, 2006

Elections for the office of Colorado State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 8, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006. Eighteen seats were up for election.

During the 2006 elections, the total contributions to Senate candidates was $3,042,683. The top 10 contributors were:[9]


See also: Colorado State Senate elections, 2004

Elections for the office of Colorado State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 10, 2004 and a general election on November 2, 2004. Eighteen seats were up for election.

During the 2004 elections, the total contributions to Senate candidates was $2,161,082. The top 10 contributors were:[10]


See also: Colorado State Senate elections, 2002

Elections for the office of Colorado State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 13, 2002 and a general election on November 5, 2002. Seventeen seats were up for election.

During the 2002 elections, the total contributions to Senate candidates was $4,659,442. The top 10 contributors were:[11]


See also: Colorado State Senate elections, 2000

Elections for the office of Colorado State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 8, 2000 and a general election on November 7, 2000.

During the 2000 elections, the total contributions to Senate candidates was $2,560,299. The top 10 contributors were:[12]


Article 5, Section 4 of the Colorado Constitution states: No person shall be a representative or senator who shall not have attained the age of twenty-five years, who shall not be a citizen of the United States, who shall not for at least twelve months next preceding his election, have resided within the territory included in the limits of the county or district in which he shall be chosen; provided, that any person who at the time of the adoption of this constitution, was a qualified elector under the territorial laws, shall be eligible to the first general assembly.


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
NevadaMassachusettsColoradoNew MexicoWyomingArizonaMontanaCaliforniaOregonWashingtonIdahoTexasOklahomaKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaIllinoisWisconsinTennesseeNorth CarolinaIndianaOhioKentuckyPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew YorkVermontVermontNew HampshireMaineWest VirginiaVirginiaMarylandMarylandConnecticutConnecticutDelawareDelawareRhode IslandRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireMichiganMichiganAlaskaVacancy fulfillment map.png

In the event of any vacancy in the Senate, the political party that holds the vacant seat is responsible for deciding a replacement.[13] A vacancy committee consisting of members of the political party holding the vacant seat must conduct an election when deciding an appointee. A simple majority vote of members in the vacancy committee is needed to approve any appointment. The person selected to fill the vacancy serves until the next scheduled general election.

Term limits

See also: State legislatures with term limits

The Colorado legislature is one of 15 state legislatures with term limits. Voters enacted the Colorado Term Limits Act in 1990. That initiative said that Colorado senators are subject to term limits of no more than two four-year terms.[3]


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.[14]


Colorado's population increased from 4.30 million to 5.03 million between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17][18]


Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 17
     Republican Party 18
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


Current leadership

Current Leadership, Colorado State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Morgan Carroll Electiondot.png Democratic
President Pro Tempore Lucia Guzman Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Leader Rollie Heath Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant Majority Leader Irene Aguilar Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Caucus Leader Jeanne Nicholson Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman Ends.png Republican
State Senate Assistant Minority Leader Mark Scheffel Ends.png Republican


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.[20]

When sworn in

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

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

Current members

Colorado State Capitol
Current members, Colorado State Senate
District Representative Party Assumed office
1 Greg Brophy Ends.png Republican 2005
2 Kevin J. Grantham Ends.png Republican 2011
3 George Rivera Ends.png Republican 2013
4 Mark Scheffel Ends.png Republican 2009
5 Gail Schwartz Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
6 Ellen Roberts Ends.png Republican 2011
7 Steve King Ends.png Republican 2011
8 Randy Baumgardner Ends.png Republican 2013
9 Kent Lambert Ends.png Republican 2011
10 Owen Hill Ends.png Republican 2013
11 Bernie Herpin Ends.png Republican 2013
12 Bill Cadman Ends.png Republican 2007
13 Scott Renfroe Ends.png Republican 2007
14 John Kefalas Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
15 Kevin Lundberg Ends.png Republican 2009
16 Jeanne Nicholson Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
17 Matt Jones Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
18 Rollie Heath Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
19 Rachel Zenzinger Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
20 Cheri Jahn Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
21 Jessie Ulibarri Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
22 Andrew Kerr Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
23 Vicki Marble Ends.png Republican 2013
24 Lois Tochtrop Electiondot.png Democratic 2004
25 Mary Hodge Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
26 Linda Newell Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
27 David Balmer Ends.png Republican 2013
28 Nancy Todd Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
29 Morgan Carroll Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
30 Ted Harvey Ends.png Republican 2007
31 Pat Steadman Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
32 Irene Aguilar Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
33 Michael Johnston Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
34 Lucia Guzman Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
35 Larry Crowder Ends.png Republican 2013

Standing committees

See also: Joint standing committees, Colorado General Assembly

The Colorado State Senate has 10 standing committees:


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

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.

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

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).

External links


  1. www.census.gov/, "Population in 2010 of the American states," accessed January 6, 2014
  2. Population in 2000 of the American states, Accessed November 27, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 colorado.gov, "Term limits," accessed December 16, 2013
  4. kdvr.com, "Colorado’s historic 2013 legislative session in review," May 10, 2013
  5. Pueblo Chieftain, "Civil Union supporters rally prior to special session," May 14, 2012
  6. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  7. Follow the Money: "Colorado Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
  8. Follow the Money, 2008 Colorado candidates.
  9. Follow the Money, 2006 Colorado candidates.
  10. Follow the Money, 2004 Colorado candidates.
  11. Follow the Money, 2002 Colorado candidates.
  12. Follow the Money, 2000 Colorado candidates.
  13. Colorado Constitution, accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Section Article V, Section II, Subsection 3)
  14. Clear the Bench Colorado, "Redistricting versus Reapportionment - the confusion continues", April 20, 2011
  15. U.S. Census Bureau, "2010 Census: Colorado Profile," 2011
  16. National Journal, "Census Quick Cuts: Colorado, Washington, Oregon," February 24, 2011
  17. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/colorado-redistricting_n_1097001.html The Huffington Post, " Colorado Redistricting: Supreme Court Rejects New House, Senate District Maps (UPDATE)," November 29, 2011]
  18. The Denver Post, "Colorado Supreme Court sides with Democrats, picks their maps for new legislative districts," December 12, 2011
  19. Colorado State Senate Leadership Positions
  20. NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013