They’re back! The second regular session of Colorado’s 74th General Assembly convened on Wednesday. As is typical for the first day of any legislative session, the day included speeches from each of the four caucus leaders. This year, the speeches asked for more civility and a return of decorum under the gold dome. In December, two first-year Democratic representatives resigned citing at least in part the vitriolic environment of the state House as the reason for their leaving. But the first day was not just speeches, there were also protests. About 40 minutes into the new session, multiple groups of Pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted the House proceedings forcing the House to go into recess. Thankfully, order was quickly restored by who else…Colorado State Troopers…and the House continued with its work. Last fall, during November’s special session on property taxes, pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted legislative work multiple times. At one point the protesters were joined by a House member, who called her fellow representatives fascists from the gallery. Unfortunately, protests and disruptive behavior are probably something we can expect to see more of this session.
On Thursday, Governor Polis gave his sixth State of the State speech. Like last year, the primary theme of the speech was the need for more affordable housing. The Governor outlined strategies he would like legislators to adopt to address the issue. The week ended on Friday with the House commemorating the birthday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The slow pace is likely to continue next week as both the House and the Senate will be closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and most committees will be holding their annual SMART Act hearings instead of considering bills. So far, there have been 139 bills introduced – 89 in the House and 50 in the Senate. Only 114 more days until the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8th.