GA Adjourns After Just 120 Days (Phew!)

by Julie Pelegrin

For the first time in two years, the General Assembly adjourned May 11, 2022, on the 120th consecutive calendar day after it began on January 12th. While we may not consider this session normal by all standards (no one wants all-night debates as the new normal), it at least began and ended on time.

The number of bills introduced falls within the normal range, as well. Legislators introduced 657 bills during the 2022 legislative session, which is comparable to the 623 bills introduced in 2021, 651 bills introduced in 2020, and 598 bills introduced in 2019, but pretty far short of the 721 introduced in 2018.

That’s not to say everything ran on time throughout the 2022 session. With just one month left in the session, there were still 186 bills on a committee calendar in the house of introduction (i.e., those bills had not progressed through the legislative process beyond initial introduction). When the session dwindled down to two weeks there were still 152 bills in the first house committee, but with only a week remaining, just 39 bills remained in the first house committee. With six working days left in the session, the House and the Senate combined had 287 bills awaiting action on the calendar. They passed or killed 261 of them, leaving just 26 bills to die on the calendar (deemed lost or deemed postponed indefinitely) when the legislature adjourned.

The term “working day” also took on a new meaning this session, mainly for the House of Representatives. At least twice, the House began debating bills on second reading on one day and continued those debates through the night and into the next morning. The first time – March 11-12 – they began debating bills on second reading at about 10:20 a.m. on Friday and didn’t wrap up until about 11:15 a.m. Saturday. The second time – May 9-10 – they began debating bills around 5:00 p.m., but this time they finished early – about 6:30 a.m. on May 10 – then came back for more at 11:00 that day and didn’t finish until about midnight. Overall, in the last five working days of the session, the House adjourned after 11:00 p.m. each night, and the Senate worked until at least 10:45 p.m. each of those nights except one. By the time the final gavel came down in the House at 11:35 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11 (10:55 p.m. in the Senate), legislators, staff, lobbyists, and anyone still watching on YouTube were ready for some sleep.

That was the 2022 legislative session. What’s in store for the 2022 interim and the 2023 session?

Beginning in July, 16 legislative interim study committees are authorized to begin meeting on a wide variety of topics including health insurance, school finance, jail standards, judicial discipline, transportation, water, and wildfires. Each interim committee is authorized to recommend bills to the Legislative Council. Because 2022 is an election year, the Legislative Council must meet no later than October 15 to decide whether to approve the bills for introduction during the 2023 legislative session.

And speaking of elections, all of the seats in the House of Representatives are up for election in November. Eight of the incumbent representatives are term limited and cannot run again for their House seats; another 13 representatives are either running for another office or have decided not to run for other reasons. In the Senate, approximately half of the seats are up for election. Six of the incumbent senators are term limited and so will not be returning, and four others are either running for another office or have decided not to run for other reasons.

So, when the Seventy-fourth General Assembly convenes on Monday, January 9, 2023, there will be at least 21 new representatives and 10 new senators. At least two of the persons elected to leadership positions in the House – Speaker of the House and Majority Leader –and at least one of the persons elected to a leadership position in the Senate – the Minority Leader – will be new to their positions. And that’s just the minimum amount of change that can be expected.

For now, the legislative staff will quietly work to wrap up the work from the 2022 session, including preparing the 2022 C.R.S. for publication, writing final fiscal notes and summaries of the legislation that passed, and preparing the final appropriations report for the 2022-23 fiscal year; legislators will return to their districts to campaign and reconnect with their constituents; and everyone will hope for a little downtime before it’s time to prepare for the 2023 legislative session.

Peace out, ya’ll.


[1] Not surprising, the passage rate dipped to 51% with the onset of the pandemic in 2020 and an abbreviated legislative session lasting just 84 days.