Today is May 22, 2023 and here is what you need to know:

Colorado was the first state in the nation to decriminalize abortion in certain cases in 1967. This year, the state reclaimed its status as a leader for abortion protections. 

During the 2023 legislative session, lawmakers passed a package of bills designed to protect and increase access to abortion in the state, just over a year after Colorado enshrined abortion as a fundamental right. The three bills were signed into law in April. 

Senate Bill 188 protects patients and providers of abortion and gender-affirming services in Colorado from penalties from other states. Senate Bill 189 expands health insurance coverage for abortion, sterilization and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Senate Bill 190 prohibits what sponsors deem to be deceptive advertising and the use of abortion "reversal" pills in crisis pregnancy centers. 

"Colorado has really embraced this opportunity to be a national leader," said Kelly Baden, vice president of public policy for the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy organization. "Colorado is part of the pack of states that see that abortion legality is critical, but now also has gone beyond that to recognize that legality alone is not enough."

Nationally, 25 states and Washington D.C. have some kind of abortion protections via state laws, state constitutions, executive orders or state Supreme Court precedents, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

But with this year's bill package, Colorado joined a smaller group of states taking stronger steps to preserve abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling in June. 

The 2023 session saw Democratic lawmakers approve five measures that could move Colorado into a stronger position as a leader on gun safety laws.

But the reluctance by Democrats, including Gov. Jared Polis, on an assault weapons ban will likely keep the state off the leaderboard.

Two years ago, Colorado got a "C+" from Giffords, the national legal nonprofit that promotes gun safety legislation.

While the organization ranked Colorado in the Top 16 of states with strong gun control laws, its middle-of-the-pack grade at that time was due to what it didn't have: waiting periods for firearms sales, a law raising the legal age to purchase to 21, and a requirement for lost or stolen guns to be reported.

After passing a law that allowed local jurisdictions to pass stricter gun control laws and adding laws on reporting lost or stolen guns, Colorado improved to a "B" in the 2023 report

It noted Colorado ranked 14th on strength of gun laws, but had more gun deaths per 100,000 population than any of its peer states.

Only two states, California and New Jersey, have earned the highest grade, an "A", from Giffords. Six others earned an "A-" from Giffords in its 2023 report. 

Twenty-six states are ranked "F," including Colorado border neighbors Wyoming, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma and nearby Texas. 

Colorado Springs Mayor-elect Yemi Mobolade, an independent and political newcomer who will step into the mayor's office next month, has maintained over 18 months on the campaign trail and following his decisive runoff election victory that he is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.

Though the city's elections are nonpartisan, Mobolade continues to dispute the idea he is a "progressive" or "Democratic-aligned" candidate, despite those claims made by media, political-action committees, his Republican opponent Wayne Williams and others. Mobolade repeated last week that it is an identity "he never gave himself."

Voting records The Gazette obtained from the El Paso County clerk and recorder show Mobolade is among the 48.47% of unaffiliated voters in El Paso County. That's compared to 31.17% of county voters who are registered Republicans and 18.22% who are registered Democrats, county clerk's data as of May 15 show.

Mobolade, who earned 57.5% of the runoff vote to Williams' 42.5%, according to final unofficial results from the city clerk as of Wednesday afternoon, will be the first mayor not affiliated with the Republican Party since the city began electing mayors 45 years ago. His victory represents a seismic political surprise in Colorado Springs, long known as a conservative stronghold.

By the time Colorado lawmakers wrapped up their work on May 8, they tackled hundreds of proposals, ranging from mundane to monumental, in a session featuring flashes of acrimony, intraparty dissent and interparty filibustering.

But the 2023 session also saw stretches of cooperation and moments of levity, underpinned by the new reality at the state Capitol that Republicans are powerless to stop Democrats when they're united, and the supermajority is deeply fractured on certain issues. 

And, for the first time since becoming governor, Jared Polis tasted a major defeat on a signature proposal. It was made all the more stunning by coming on the heels of an election that saw him emerge with a sweeping mandate after winning by roughly 20 points. 

Here are the top issues of the 2023 legislative session.

Marianne Goodland salutes the best and brightest from Colorado's 2023 legislative session.

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