Colorado Legislature Convenes For The 73rd General Assembly
Andrea Wilkins, LWVCO Legislative Liaison - Jan. 27, 2022
The second session of the 73rd General Assembly convened on Wednesday, Jan. 12, where some of the most pressing items of business for both parties focus on the cost of living and inflation as well as public safety and crime prevention. After the wild swings in the state fiscal outlook in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic crisis, the state finds itself starting the 2022 session with $3.2 billion more to spend over the current budget. It is anticipated that significant investments will be made in affordable housing and behavioral health, both of which are LWVCO priorities. The Behavioral Health and Housing task forces are expected to release their reports soon with recommendations on how to spend funding under the American Rescue Plan Act.
The LWVCO Legislative Action Committee (LAC) conducted its first meeting of the year on Friday, Jan. 21. Meetings will take place on a bi-weekly basis throughout the session and members statewide are encouraged to participate. This year’s committee includes 25 citizen lobbyists advocating on legislation in the areas of voting and elections, environment and climate, and a number of social policy topics. You can follow the legislation LAC tracks by using the updates on this page. In addition, several LWVCO task forces will collaborate with the LAC as they monitor activity and advocate at the local level on issues important to our members. Currently, LWVCO task forces are focused on the climate emergency, health care and behavioral health care, reproductive rights, and affordable housing.
As the session gets underway, the LAC is pleased that legislation addressing some of our key concerns will be taken up this session. HB22-1086, the Vote Without Fear Act, is intended to protect against voter intimidation by prohibiting the open carry of firearms at polling locations and near ballot drop boxes. In addition, the Reproductive Health Equity Act would guarantee access to reproductive care, including abortion. The LAC was also supportive of HR22-1004 and SM22-001, early efforts by the General Assembly urging Congress to adopt voting rights legislation at the federal level.
The 2022 session will mark the last year for many members of legislative leadership before they are term-limited at the end of the session, including Senate President Leroy Garcia (Pueblo), Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (Parker), and House Speaker Alec Garnett (Denver). House Minority Leader Hugh McKean (Loveland) has three years left to serve with his current term ending in 2023.
After two sessions filled with disruptions due to the pandemic, the General Assembly is hopeful this session will return to normal and allow for focus on legislation to support continued economic recovery. One positive coming out of the COVID-induced change in operations is the expansion of remote participation in committee hearings. Technology investments have made it possible for people across Colorado to listen to committee proceedings or provide remote testimony, in addition to being able to tune into the House and Senate floor proceedings. LWVCO urges legislative leadership to ensure these processes are maintained beyond the pandemic to promote transparency and ensure that all interested Coloradans can participate in legislative proceedings, regardless of their location in the state.
Questions about 2022 legislative activity or inquiries about participation in the LAC can be directed to Andrea Wilkins, LWVCO Legislative Liaison, or Toni Larson, LWVCO Director of Action & Advocacy.