What is the difference between the session laws and the statutes?

In short: The session laws reproduce each individual bill, as it passed, during a particular session. The statutes give you the Colorado Revised Statutes — the permanent, statutory law of the state — organized by subject matter title, article, part, and section.

The session laws are the annual official compilation of legislation that is passed by both houses of the Colorado General Assembly and either signed by the Governor or allowed by the Governor to become law without his or her signature during a regular or special legislative session. Each year, the Office of Legislative Legal Services publishes the session laws for that year’s regular legislative session. If the General Assembly meets in special session, the Office will publish a separate set of session laws for each special session.

The compilation of each legislative session’s laws includes bills that amend the Colorado Revised Statutes; appropriations bills that provide funding for various state agencies, institutions, and programs; and concurrent resolutions that propose amendments to the state constitution for voter approval. The session laws also include resolutions that express the will of one or both houses on a particular matter and memorials that honor a person who served in some public capacity and has passed away.

If you want to find the full text of a bill — with the strike type and small caps — as the bill finally passed the legislature, or if you want to find out who sponsored a particular bill, you should look in the session laws for the legislative session in which the bill passed. The session laws are organized by chapter; each chapter is a separate bill. You will find a subject-matter index to each year’s session laws and a table of all the bills that passed during that session, organized by bill number, at the back of the final volume of session laws for the year you’re interested in.

However, if you’re looking for the statutory law on a particular topic or you’re trying to find a particular section of statute, you should look in the Colorado Revised Statutes (sometimes referred to as the “red books”). This publication will show you the current, effective, statutory law of the state, including annotations of any Colorado or federal case that has interpreted the statutes.