With the End of Session, Focus Shifts to Publishing Statutes

by Kathy Zambrano and Richard Sweetman

With the close of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session, and the First Extraordinary Legislative Session of 2012, the question now is, “What changes did the General Assembly make to the law of Colorado?” To answer this question, the OLLS is well on the way to publishing the bills enacted during the legislative session and republishing the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.). Each summer, the OLLS organizes the bills passed in the preceding legislative session and publishes them as the Session Laws. The Office also incorporates the enacted changes into the statutory database and republishes the C.R.S. by the fall of each year.

Session Laws

After each regular and extraordinary session of the General Assembly, pursuant to section 24-70-223, C.R.S., the OLLS publishes the “Session Laws of Colorado (year)”. The Session Laws are usually available to the public in early- to mid-July, providing access to the new law that is not yet published in the C.R.S.

Each edition of the Session Laws includes:

  • All bills enacted by the General Assembly at the preceding legislative session;
  • All proposed constitutional amendments and laws referred to the people by the General Assembly at the preceding legislative session; and
  • All constitutional amendments and initiated laws adopted by the people at the general election held prior to the printing of that edition of the Session Laws.

The Session Laws also contain certain joint resolutions, resolutions, and memorials enacted by the General Assembly at the preceding legislative session. The Session Laws reprint each bill exactly as it passed the General Assembly, including the existing language that was repealed, which is printed in strike type, and the new language that was added, which is printed in small caps. So, to see exactly how the General Assembly changed the language of a particular statute, you should look up the bill in the Session Laws.

The Red Book

Along with the Session Laws, the OLLS prepares a Red Book, which is a numeric listing of all of the C.R.S. sections that were added, amended, or repealed during the preceding legislative session. The Red Book gives users a quick reference to the page of the Session Laws where a statutory section affected by legislation appears.

The Red Book includes:

  • The section of each bill in which an added, amended, or repealed statutory section appears;
  • The effective date of each such bill section; and
  • The chapter of the Session Laws where each such bill appears.

Colorado Revised Statutes

Section 2-5-101 (1), C.R.S., charges the Revisor of Statutes within the OLLS with compiling, editing, arranging, and preparing for publication all laws of the state of Colorado. This process includes publishing the hard-copy statute books as well as electronically publishing the statutes, which is facilitated by LexisNexis on the public C.R.S. web site (http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/colorado/).

After the Governor signs an enacted bill or allows it to become law without signature, the OLLS updates its C.R.S. database to reflect the changes made in each statutory section that is added or amended by the bill. This database provides the basis for the publication of the hard-copy and electronic C.R.S. Once the Governor has acted on, or decided not to act on, every bill enacted during the regular or extraordinary session, the OLLS begins the process of finalizing the updated database for the republication of the C.R.S.

Finalizing the updated database requires a lengthy process of updating source notes to enable the public to track the legislative history of each statutory section; creating editors’ notes and cross-references to assist the public in reading the statutes; adding annotations of judicial opinions that interpret the statutes; and proof-reading and reviewing the newly printed database multiple times to ensure that the enacted statutory changes are accurately enrolled and none of the unaffected statutory language is accidentally removed or changed. The OLLS typically distributes the republished C.R.S. in early September.

During the next legislative session, a legislator — usually a member of the Committee on Legal Services — introduces and passes a bill to enact the previous year’s C.R.S. as the permanent law of the state. Passage of this bill prohibits a person from subsequently challenging the constitutionality of the title of a bill enacted in the previous legislative session.

Each legislative session, pursuant to section 2-5-104, C.R.S., a member of the Committee on Legal Services also introduces a clean-up bill, referred to as the “Revisor’s Bill.” This bill makes nonsubstantive changes to the law to correct errors that have been discovered since the republishing of the statutes.