Colorado Politics writers and editors took stock off the 116-day legislative session to cast a value on the losses and gains of legislators, issues, partisan viewpoints and more.

Here's who or what trended up or trended down since the General Assembly assembled in January.


Joint Budget Committee  2021 Moreno McCluskie Rankin Ransom Hanson Herod.png

The Colorado General Assembly's Joint Budget Committee is made up of, top from left, chair Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City; Vice Chair Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon; Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale; second row from left, Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Littleton; Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver; and Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver.

Joint Budget Committee

The bicameral panel that writes the first draft of the state budget had no easy feat this session, restoring cuts from last year, leading the charge on how to spend $3.9 billion in federal stimulus dollars and figuring out a new system for prioritizing late-session spending, courtesy of fast-rising Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver.

mental health bills

Kari Eckert of Golden holds a picture of her son, Robbie, who died from suicide, before a hearing on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, on two bills aimed at improving mental health for students on campus. At her right is Lakewood student Hanna Newman and state Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. 

Mental health

A raft of bills took on this long-neglected need in Colorado: serving those who struggle, who take a toll on the state in lost productivity, violence and their own well-being. Besides the $114 million Behavioral Health Recovery Act that addresses addiction services and crisis intervention, the legislature created the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration to oversee programs and spending.

Transport newser 5

Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a press conference on the rollout of the transportation bill on May 4, 2021, in the Capitol rotunda in Denver.

Gov. Jared Polis

You might not agree with the boss, but he's still the boss. Some Democrats thought they could put a thumb in the legislative eye of former House Speaker KC Becker, author of the state's Climate Action Plan, by calling it toothless and giving more power to an appointed board. The governor suggested they were overreaching and he might veto the legislation. The Polis agenda scored big wins on transportation, health care savings and the environment this session.

Environmental crusaders

Despite the poorly taken shot at climate change enforcement, the environmental movement eked into the winner's circle this session on the back of banning plastics, a long sought item on Colorado's green wish list. Four different bills are aimed at making new buildings more energy efficient, and the green machine notched a huge win with the heavy lean toward transit and electric vehicles in a $5.4 billion transportation package.

Marc Catlin, Alec Garnett

Blessed are the aisle crossers. A lot of lawmakers talk about it, but few pull it off. Meet the Republican representative from Montrose and the House speaker from Denver, respectively.

Traffic jam westbound I-70 highway with snow covered mountains Colorado

Photo Credit: milehightraveler (iStock)

Getting around

Transportation got a lift, and so did the push against climate change, but at what cost? The $5.4 billion package is supported by the existing state budget along with a list of new fees on gasoline, electric vehicles, ride sharing and deliveries. How that money gets spent will be a fight that unfolds over the next few years.



Ron Hanks

Even before he was seated as a legislator, Ron Hanks was making waves, which continued in dustups throughout the session. But, ultimately, who pays the price when a lawmaker tilts at windmills and shakes his metaphorical fist at the system? It's not his district's issues, services and those who disagree with him.

School discipline

The issue got pulled into the whirlpool of raw feelings between the law enforcement community and certain Democratic lawmakers who see themselves as reformers. Sponsors pulled a bill that would have prevented students for being arrested as a form of school discipline, but another bill that did pass requires school districts to come up with anti-bullying plans that include suspension.

The public option

Sure House Bill 1232 passed, but it wasn't nearly what it was not the political or even health care game changer it was built up to be. Instead of a below-market insurance policy, it turned into a threat of one if the industry can't cut prices by 15% over three years, plus other sticks in lieu of carrots.

Morning Farm Scene

Cows grazing on Colorado ranch.


Anyone who thinks that Democrats have any interest in stakeholding with anyone who opposes their bills (see: farmworkers, Indian mascots, public option, PDAB, online voting for the blind), don't kid yourself. The front-runner for ignoring the people who her bills would affect: Sen. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, who ignored the ag industry with her farmworker bill of rights and the schools with Indian mascots (and the state's tribal leaders) with her bill to ban mascots and nicknames. 

Tag, you're it

Mark Ferrandino was no fan of license plate bills when he was Speaker of the House in 2012-13. Legislators have more important things to do than run license plate bills, he said back in the day. So many different plates make it harder to identify vehicles, and that license plates are to identify vehicles, not for supporting a cause. "It's more cost-effective to buy a bumper sticker and donate to charity," he said while speaker.

Now that he's Polis' Department of Revenue executive director, he has a bitter product to peddle: At least seven new license plates were authorized in this session, likely a record.

Endangered Wolves-Pups

This June 3, 2020, image taken from a Web camera provided by ABQ BioPark shows Mexican gray wolf parents play with their second litter of seven pups born in May, who recently came out of their underground den for the first time to explore their environment at the ABQ BioPark in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Wolf pack

The successful ballot measure to reintroduce gray wolves in Colorado (despite the fact they're already here) led to a quartet of bills from Western Slope lawmakers, attempting to put limitations on the program that will be set up by the state's Parks and Wildlife Commission. The only one that succeeded was to exclude dollars that go to parks and wildlife and which come in from license fees for hunting and fishing. The other three attempted to set up the process for CPW on how to bring in wolves, figure out the financing, and set boundaries on where the wolves could be introduced.

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