Colorado politics

Gov. Jared Polis recently outlined an ambitious agenda for lawmakers in 2020. He vowed to reduce health care costs, find a solution to the state's road funding woes and get more children into preschool. But some of the governor's priorities will prove to be contentious.

Capitol Coverage reporter Scott Franz sat down with the governor after his State of the State address to talk about some of the hot-button issues that are on the table this legislative session.

The opening days of Colorado's legislative session are typically jovial and largely free of partisan politics. The governor capitalized on that mood during his roughly hour-long speech. After an interruption from a heckler in the gallery shouting, "Ban fracking now!" Polis started with a recap of his first year in office.

There were the usual jokes and friendly banter between the House and Senate.

State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle exchanged hugs in a chamber that felt a bit like a school getting back to work after an eight-month break.

But amidst the pomp and circumstance of the opening day of Colorado's 2020 legislative session, lawmakers also drew some clear battle lines.

Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

Some of the biggest and most contentious laws the state legislature passed in 2019 go into effect on Wednesday, Jan. 1.

Together, the new laws aim to prevent suicides and gun violence, protect hospital patients from unexpected medical bills and give local governments the power to raise their minimum wages higher than the state level.

There are even new rules requiring tenants to report bed bugs to their landlords so the mitigation can begin sooner.

Colorado residents have rejected a request from their state legislature to remove an annual government spending limit that some elected officials argued is holding back the state’s roads and schools.

Instead, voters opted to continue getting tax refunds when the state reaches a revenue cap set by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Music is blaring and grills are firing up at a parking lot awash in navy blue and orange outside Empower Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

Todd Endicott of Lafayette stands outside an ambulance turned Broncos fan-mobile. He outfitted this orange and blue rig for tailgates. It’s plastered in life-size stickers of players, and the football team’s logos, vintage and new. 

Colorado conservatives have spent the last six months knocking on doors and manning recall booths around the state as they tried to convince residents to help them remove six Democrats, including Governor Jared Polis, from office.

Proposition CC is pitting lawmakers who are seeking more money to pay for roads and education against residents who think government spending should have a limit.

Mike McBride / Flickr-Creative Commons

An effort to recall two Democratic state senators has ended after backers informed the Colorado Secretary of State's office that they will not be turning in the signatures they collected.

The sight of dozens of plastic tubs being unloaded from a white truck in front of the state Capitol on Friday morning attracted a crowd of curious out-of-state tourists and political activists.

The tubs contained recall petitions targeting Gov. Jared Polis, and the crowd gathered around them quickly learned the groups trying to remove the governor from office failed to get the 631,000 signatures they needed to put Polis' fate on the ballot.

Tom Arthur / Creative Commons 2.0

DENVER (AP) — Colorado will vote on whether to join an initiative that would commit its nine Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote for president.

Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says he will challenge Republican incumbent Cory Gardner for his Senate seat.

DENVER (AP) — Business interests, associations, nonprofits and other groups spent a record $36.4 million to lobby Colorado lawmakers and government agencies this year. 

Jeffrey Beall / Creative Commons 2.0

DENVER (AP) — John Hickenlooper is expected to drop out of the Democratic presidential primary on Thursday.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

DENVER (AP) — A campaign to undo a law that would pledge Colorado's presidential electoral votes to the national popular vote winner says it's collected more than enough signatures needed to put the law before voters next year.

The Coloradans Vote campaign said Wednesday it will turn in more than 227,000 signatures to the secretary of state. It needs more than 124,000 valid voter signatures to put the question on the ballot.

https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov

DENVER (AP) — A federal court has revived a lawsuit challenging Colorado's limits on taxes and spending.

In a Denver ballroom filled with red "Make America Great Again" hats and hundreds of conservatives, Ann Howe doesn't appear daunted by the task of gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to attempt to recall her governor.

Most of the offices inside the state Capitol are locked and dark this time of year as lawmakers enjoy some time off. But there was recently a flurry of activity in Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet's office as she prepared to lead a new committee of lawmakers who will try to make classrooms safer in the wake of the deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

Some presidential candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are seeing their profiles and poll numbers rise after last week’s debates in Miami. But others, including former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, are making headlines for the attention they’re still not getting.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper is condemning socialism and making headlines for picking a fight on the issue with Bernie Sanders.

Sen. Michael Bennet is touting his plan to "clean up corruption and restore our democracy."

But both of Colorado's presidential candidates are still polling below 1% in some national polls ahead of Thursday's big Democratic primary debate in Miami.

Credit: Colorado Judicial Branch

The Colorado Supreme Court says a ballot measure aimed at eliminating the state's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR amendment, can move forward.

Following attention from prominent Democrats, and an announcement that gun control groups had donated over $100,000 to fighting the effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan (D), backers of the recall campaign have ended their pursuit.

A state-by-state effort to start using the popular vote as the deciding factor in presidential elections is getting some mixed results in the months after Colorado joined the cause.

The leaders of the national popular vote compact are celebrating Oregon’s decision this month to join the group. If the governor approves the change as expected, the Beaver state will become the 15th state to join the initiative.

Jim Anderson / Associated Press

Psychotherapy that seeks to change minors' sexual orientation or gender identity is now illegal in Colorado.

Transportation funding advocates are giving Colorado’s latest legislative session mixed reviews despite a bipartisan budget deal that boosted transportation funding by $70 million.

Margaret Bowes, who leads an organization that focuses on improving the Interstate 70 corridor in the mountains, said the money lawmakers added for roads and bridges was “just a drop in the bucket.”

Colorado lawmakers passed a bipartisan bill giving patients more protection from a practice called “surprise medical billing,” or “balance billing.” Now, it’s headed to the governor’s desk.

From a robot voice that became the sound of fierce partisanship to a crucial debate over the future of oil and gas held in the middle of a blizzard, there was plenty of drama at the state Capitol this year.

Here’s a recap of some of the biggest moments of the session from its start to its final week.

The Colorado General Assembly didn’t end its 72nd session quietly. In the final days, they’ve taken big votes on some of the most consequential legislation of the year. Here’s what they’ve been up to in the final hours.

Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press

Colorado Senator - and former Denver Public Schools Superintendent - Michael Bennet is officially entering the race for president. He made the announcement Thursday on CBS This Morning.

Three weeks ago, Gov. Jared Polis stood outside Denver Health’s downtown hospital and made a long list of promises about improving health care.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle stood next to him and cheered him on, while a glossy, 10-page road map to lowering health care costs circulated through the crowd.

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