DENVER (KDVR) — The 2023 Colorado legislative session will convene in just a matter of days. Representatives and senators will meet for the 74th General Assembly on Monday, Jan. 9.
With new lawmakers coming in this year and Democrats taking unprecedented control, what do they plan to do with all that power? Leaders in both chambers respond.
“For us, it kind of represents the opportunity to continue the work we started over the last few years but really as we ended the last session,” Senate President Steve Fenberg, of Boulder. said.
Leaders at the state Capitol said this year is about moving past challenges dealt by the COVID-19 pandemic, several mass shootings and natural disasters that have plagued the state over the past few years.
“We want to address those challenges. We also want to recognize that Colorado is in a very strong place right now. We have one of the strongest economies in the country, in large part because of the governance that has happened in this state over the last several years,” Fenberg said.
On the other side of the state’s economic prosperity lies an issue lawmakers know many Coloradans have been fighting amid soaring prices all last year: affordability.
“We really want to focus especially on housing. We know that is one of the biggest cost drivers for families right now, but it’s also negatively impacting small businesses and large employers. If they can’t offer information about where a prospective employee can find a reasonably priced house to live, it’s going to be really hard to get that person on board to work,” Fenberg said.
Another key issue they are honing in on is crime, specifically targeting the high amount of auto theft in the state.
“I can imagine for those who maybe don’t have the resources to navigate that, what can we do? Because that’s a huge thing when your car is stolen, especially trying to get to work, trying to get your kids to school, getting to the grocery store, whatever it might be. So those conversations will be had,” House Majority Leader Monica Duran said.
Other key items for the Democrats that will make up almost two-thirds of the assembly include investments in public education, in an effort to lessen workforce shortages, and tackling climate change with a high focus on improving water and air quality — all priorities Gov. Jared Polis also detailed in his budget proposal.
Leaders of the majority also said defending democracy will be a focal point. Legislation protecting LGBTQ rights and gun reform measures are also items they hope to pass.