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Colorado General Assembly session opens Wednesday

DENVER -- The 71st General Assembly will convene Wednesday.

Who is in charge? 

Democrats control the State House, while Republicans control the State Senate.  This divide makes Colorado one of only five states in the country with divided government.

Rep. Crisanta Duran will be the first Latina speaker in the country in the House, while Sen. Kevin Grantham will lead the Senate as president.

When is the State of the State? 

The governor's big address will take place on Jan. 12 at 11 a.m.

Is this the year transportation reform gets done?

It seems like an annual tradition in Colorado government asking this question.

Sandra Solin with Fix Our Roads believes  the environment is riper than ever.  But will it get done?  The issue usually centers around Democrats wanting taxes to fix the problem, while Republicans are advocates for bonds.

"A standalone tax increase is very unlikely, but we could talk about exchanging the state's gas tax in exchange for that," Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert said.

Senate assistant Minority Leader Leroy Garcia, a Democrat, seemed to suggest a ballot question, saying "many have suggested putting this on the ballot for voters to consider."

Homelessness

Gov. John Hickenlooper has proposed in his budget funds to help with the state's rising homeless population.

Republicans appear open to the idea, but Holbert said he worries about a statewide homeless solution since the issue varies city by city.

Marijuana 

The governor has also expressed a desire to give more resources to crack down on illegal pot grow operations. Republicans are open to this based on conversations with senior leadership

Medical aid in dying 

The controversial measure is now law in Colorado. So far, the legislature is not discussing any additional bills to aid or hinder the law, but Holbert said there are some minor concerns like how should coroners classify that kind of death.

Heroin 

The heroin and opioid epidemic continues to baffle many lawmakers. Garcia is planning to introduce a series of measures to better educate professionals regarding prevention and how to deal with someone when they have overdosed.

Construction defects 

A confusing title, but it really is simple to understand. Construction defect legislation would limit the ability for people to sue developers after they have moved into a property.

Advocates say developers can't build affordable housing because they are afraid of being sued after the fact.

Opponents worry homes will be built so cheaply that people will be left with large bills after moving in.

Both chambers seem to be interested in getting this issue resolved this year. Talks collapsed toward the end of session.

Tampon taxes

Rep. Susan Lontine is running legislation to reclassify women's hygiene products so they aren't taxed as much. Democratic women have run similar legislation nationwide. Will Republican men, who often dislike taxes, comply?

How often are bills passed? 

Contrary to popular belief, a lot is done at the State Capitol. Last year, it is estimated 55 percent of bills introduced were passed into law.