Rep. Stephanie Vigil speaks to there house Democrats in a House Democratic caucus during the last day of the legislative session on Monday, May 8, 2023, in Denver. (Timothy Hurst/Denver Gazette)

Today is May 23, 2023 and here is what you need to know:

Colorado's 2023 legislature is perhaps the most progressive the state has seen.

Democrats this year achieved the largest majority the state has seen in 85 years and many first-year lawmakers pushed the Capitol to the left ideologically.

Despite this, the progressive agenda often faced an uphill battle throughout the session, with key pieces of legislation failing to reach the finish line. 

It wasn't all bad for progressives. The legislature easily passed nation-leading policy packages expanding abortion protections and increasing gun control that would have been impossibly heavy lifts for the Colorado legislature just five years ago. But some of the year's most ambitious bills — such as the assault weapons ban led by freshman progressive Rep. Elisabeth Epps — ended up dead at the hands of Democrats themselves. 

Endless hours of filibustering, numerous instances when bills were read at length, and a walkout. 

That characterized much of what the public saw and heard of House Republicans during the 2023 session. 

The 2023 session started with historically low Republican representation, just 19 members out of 65 in the House, a decline of five seats. In the Senate, the number stood at 12 out of 35, a loss of three seats.

That meant being on the losing end of the session's most high profile legislative fights: abortion, gun safety and at the end of the session, property taxes. 

And while their numbers weren't enough to stop the bills they most disagreed with, Republicans were able to gain concessions here and there.

Three Democratic members of Colorado's congressional delegation have once again introduced a bill to establish three new judgeships on the state's federal trial court, which would expand the size of the bench for the first time in four decades.

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse have re-filed the Colorado Judgeship Act, after a previous version of the bill failed to advance in the last Congress. The number of active judges authorized on the U.S. District Court for Colorado has held steady at seven since 1984, even though the state's population has nearly doubled in the last 39 years.

“Caseload backlogs shouldn’t stand in the way of justice. We need to expand the number of judges on Colorado’s district court so the bench is sufficient for our growing state," said Hickenlooper in a statement.

A group of nearly two dozen current and former elected officials, along with police and fire union representatives, gathered on the steps of Aurora City Hall Monday to denounce an effort to create a “strong mayor” form of government in the city. 

They claimed that residents are being misled about the proposal, which they argue would concentrate too much power in one person. 

At least eight current councilmembers, roughly a dozen former councilmembers, police and fire union representatives, state legislators and county commissioners attended the 3 p.m. news conference, which Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky called "a heavy hitting lineup" of bipartisan leaders standing together against the "strong mayor" proposal.

"Listen, you get Juan Marcano and I standing next to each other for anything, it sends a very clear message," Jurinsky said to laughs from the group. 

Jurinsky, Marcano and Councilmember Curtis Gardner urged residents not to support the "strong mayor" petition, and, if the initiative makes the ballot, to vote "no." 

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy both said they had a productive debt ceiling discussion late Monday at the White House, but there was no agreement as negotiators strained to raise the nation's borrowing limit in time to avert a potentially chaotic federal default.

It's a crucial moment for the Democratic president and the Republican speaker, just 10 days before a looming deadline to raise the debt limit.

As soon as June 1, Treasury Secretary Janel Yellen said in a letter to Congress, “it is highly likely” the government will be unable to pay all the nation's bills. Such an unprecedented default would be financially damaging for many Americans and others around the world relying on U.S. stability, sending shockwaves through the global economy.

Each side praised the other's seriousness, but basic differences remained. They are at odds over how to trim annual budget deficits. Republicans are determined to cut spending while Biden's team offered to hold spending levels flat. Biden wants to increase some taxes on the wealthiest Americans and some big companies, but McCarthy said early on that that is out of the question.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.