The CBA’s 2021 Legislative Session in Review, 0921 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 8 Pg. 40

PositionVol. 50, 8 [Page 40]

50 Colo.Law. 40

The CBA’s 2021 Legislative Session in Review

Vol. 50, No. 8 [Page 40]

Colorado Lawyer

September, 2021

August, 2021



This article provides an overview of the CBA's legislative efforts during the Colorado General Assembly's 2021 session.

Like the 2020 session, this year's legislature was largely defined by its postponement by and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Colorado General Assembly began cautiously as the virus spread unabated, ramped up as vaccines brought case numbers under control, and ended with a historic number of bills adopted when it adjourned its regular session on June 11. For its part, the CBA had a prolific and successful year at the legislature with six of its priority bills already signed into law.

Governor Polis had until July 11 (30 days from the adjournment of the General Assembly) to take action on the 2021 bills. In a typical year, this deadline would be in early June. Accordingly, at the time this article was prepared for publication, executive action on a number of bills remained outstanding. Therefore, a more comprehensive discussion of the legislative session will be included in a subsequent Colorado Lawyer issue.

A Historic Session

Concerned about a potential wave of post-holiday coronavirus infections, the legislature postponed the bulk of its session in hopes of reduced case numbers and the prospect of a vaccine. The legislature temporarily convened for just three days in mid-January to address only a handful of pressing issues and then temporarily adjourned for five weeks, reconvening on February 16. The legislature, empowered by last year's Colorado Supreme Court decision in In re Interrogatory on House Joint Resolution 20-1006,1 paused its constitutionally limited 120-day session, recapturing time that would have otherwise been lost during its temporary adjournment. It was thus able to push back its final adjournment from early May to mid-June.

Social distancing, masking, and plexiglass separating legislators' desks fundamentally changed how the capitol building operated. Lobbyists and members of the public navigated a new world of virtual committee hearings and virtual legislative meetings. As Colorado's vaccination rates climbed through the spring, day-to-day work at the capitol slowly started to feel closer to normal with the resumption of in-person meetings and committee hearings.

Despite the session's disjointed and socially distanced start, the legislature placed a remarkable volume of legislation on the governor's desk—503 of 623 bills introduced. This represents the greatest number of bills passed by the legislature in the past four years and includes significant legislation relating to criminal justice reform, affordable housing, tenants' rights, expanding fee funding for transportation, creating a state-based health insurance...

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