Each January, 100 men and women elected to the Colorado State Legislature gather in Denver for 120 days to meet students and teachers in classrooms, college administrators trying to balance budgets, and parents facing pressure to pay tuition. and make decisions that affect students.
Lawmakers only have to pass two bills before the session closes in May. A balanced budget and school finance law. Both have a significant impact on educational opportunities.
It also addresses many more educational issues, from student discipline to school safety, standardized testing to employee training.
Register for Chalkbeat’s 2023 Legislative Preview
Chalkbeat and Colorado legislators will discuss the possibility of rewriting how schools are funded, student discipline, school safety, and more.
But it can be difficult for ordinary citizens to understand how ideas turn into law.
We have prepared this guide to the Legislative Council to explain the legislative process and opportunities for public comment.
Here’s how to participate:
until the bill becomes law
Think “I’m Just a Bill” by Schoolhouse Rock.
Legislators get ideas for bills from a variety of sources. Legislators may have a passion for a particular topic. The governor’s office or state department leaders may request changes to the policy. Interest groups and interested parents may ask lawmakers to help solve the problem.
Legislators work with drafters (nonpartisan legislative staff) to develop bills. Once a legislator introduces it, the leader of either the House or Senate assigns it to a committee, usually with relevant expertise.
Most education bills go to the school board, but sometimes a youth mental health bill lands first in the health board, or a school policing bill goes to the judicial board.
Some committees, most notorious the State Affairs Commission, are known as “kill” committees. There, leaders can send controversial bills, especially bills from opposition parties, to keep them out of the floor.
In order for a bill to proceed to the plenary session of the House or Senate, it must receive committee approval. Some bills may have to go through multiple committees.
A bill must pass twice in the first House before proceeding to the next House and starting over. The bill can be amended at any point in the process and both houses must sign the same final form of the bill.
The governor must then sign it into law.
Who Can Vote for the Colorado School Board
The House Education Committee has 11 members, including 7 Democrats and 4 Republicans. Find committee schedules, documents, live and archived audio on the committee website. (It should be updated for the 2023 session soon.) Members include:
- Durango Democratic Party Chair Barbara McLachlan
- Matthew Martinez, Deputy Speaker of the Monte Vista Democratic Party
- Jennifer Bacon, Denver Democrat
- Rep. Mary Bradfield, Ranking Member, Colorado Springs Republican
- Congressman Eliza Hamrick, Centenary Democrat
- Congressman Anthony Hartsuk, Republican Parker
- Rep. Megan Lukens, Democrat of Steamboat Springs
- Rep. Daphna Michelson Jennette, Commerce City Democrat
- Republican Rep. Rose Pryce of Colorado Springs
- Rep. Don Wilson, Monument Republican
- Greeley Democratic Rep. Mary Young
The Senate Education Committee has seven members, four Democrats and three Republicans. Find committee schedules, documents, live and archived audio on the committee website. (Should be updated for 2023 sessions soon.)
- Speaker Sen. Janet Buckner, Denver Democrat
- Vice Speaker Senator Janice Marchman, Loveland Democrat
- Senator Rhonda Fields, Aurora Democrat
- Senator Chris Kolker, Centennial Democrat
- Senator Paul Lundine, Ranking Member, Monument Republican
- Senator Mark Basley, Republican of Woodland Park
- Grand Junction Republican Senator Janice Rich
You can find the names and contact information for all current Colorado legislators here. You can also find a map of the current legislative districts here.
Can I discuss bills or submit testimony?
If you want your opinion to be heard, there are several ways to get involved.
You can speak about the bill in person or remotely, or submit a written statement to the Commission. The signup process is not difficult. Simply fill out this online form.
Speakers are usually limited to 2-3 minutes, so think of ways to get your point across quickly and clearly.
Want to know the schedule?
A complete schedule for the House and congressmen can usually be found on the Colorado Legislature landing page.
A tentative schedule is now posted. Once the session has started, the schedule should be posted daily.
Here’s how to search for Colorado legislative bills
Looking for an invoice? Go to the Colorado Legislative Bill Search page. You can search by invoice number, sponsor, or topic.
Clicking on a bill displays information such as a summary of what the bill does, the full text of the bill, and other relevant information, such as a fiscal memo explaining the cost to the state to pass the bill. Bill descriptions in accounting notes are often easier to understand than the language of the bill itself.
You can also search the tabs at the bottom of the page to see a summary of bill history, upcoming rehearsals, amendments, and committee votes.
What is the Joint Budget Committee and why is it so important?
The six-member Joint Budget Committee is the most influential committee in the Colorado Legislature. why? Because it writes a budget that guides state priorities. This year’s committee has four Democrats and two Republicans, and is chaired by Arvada Democrat Senator Rachel Zensinger.
Yes, Governor Jared Polis submits the budget each November. These priorities then guide the work of the Joint Budget Committee. However, the commission creates a budget that is ultimately submitted to the Colorado Legislature for approval.
Other legislators also have the opportunity to submit budget amendments that reflect their own spending priorities, but legislators must pass a balanced budget and the Joint Budget Committee will not accept amendments that jeopardize that goal. is removed.
The budget forms every aspect of state government, including K-12 and higher education spending.
Learn more about the budget process here.
Interested in learning more about the educational topics we plan to cover in this session?
See a 2023 legislative preview of seven issues lawmakers are expected to debate.
Need a refresher on what happened last year? We’ve compiled the most important educational issues for the 2022 session.
Want to learn more about how lobbying affects the legislative process? Join data reporter Sandra Fish to find out more about education lobbying.
do you have any questions? Listen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director Erica Meltzer is responsible for education policy and politics and oversees Chalkbeat Colorado’s education coverage.contact Erica email@example.com.
Jason Gonzalez Reporter covering higher education and the Colorado state legislature.Partnership with ChokeBeat Colorado open campus About the scope of higher education.contact Jason firstname.lastname@example.org.