Colorado state Rep. Chris Hansen said Wednesday he will run to fill a southeast Denver seat in the state Senate currently held by fellow Democrat Lois Court.

Court, a former state representative, was elected to represent Senate District 31 in 2016 and has decided to retire rather than seek a second term in the upper chamber.

> RELATED: Rep. Chris Hansen takes Colorado's net neutrality debate national

Hansen, a popular and high-profile player among the young House members, was elected to the legislature in 2016 to serve the House District 6 seat in east Denver. 

"In the past three years, I have been able to utilize my background in environmental policy and economics to help put our state on a path toward a zero-carbon future, develop innovative funding solutions for our capital construction and transportation infrastructure needs, and help produce a balanced budget for our state," he said.

This past session was stellar for Hansen, including serving on the powerful Joint Budget Committee, which writes the state spending plan. He also chaired the House Appropriations Committee and the Interim Energy Legislation Review Committee and co-chair of the Colorado Energy Coalition, an affiliated organization of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

A trained engineer and consultant in environmental and energy issues, Hansen is the senior director of energy insight for IHS Markit Ltd., whose U.S. headquarters is in Douglas County. 

He is active in his community, including as a Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation Board Executive Committee member, as well as a member of the Central City Opera Board Executive Committee, Denver Kids Mentoring Program and the CU Denver Business School Advisory Board.

By the time she ends her time in the General Assembly next year, Court will have served 12 years in the legislature: eight years in the House and four years in the Senate. She was elected president pro tempore of the state Senate when the Democrats won control of that chamber last November. 

Court has been a part of Colorado politics for 40 years, including as campaign manager for state Sen. Andy Kerr of Lakewood, and then as his legislative aide. When Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff ended his legislative career, she ran for his House seat. 

Court told Colorado Politics that she turned 70 in April. By family and statistics, she said, "I have 15 to 20 years left to live. Your 70s are the last best decade, and my husband and I decided we didn't want to give half of that to the legislature."

Last month, Court said she spent a weekend with friends she's known since high school in the Grand Canyon.

"Being with them solidified that this time of life is for family and friends, and the pressures and demands, both time and emotionally while serving, make it hard to concentrate on those I love." Court said it wasn't about policy or her colleagues. "It's just time," she said. And it's better to leave when people say "we're sorry to see you go" rather than "here's the door," she said.

"It's the right decision for us at this point," she said. "It's time to reset."

Among Court's signature issues: how Coloradans use cell phones while driving. She was the driving force behind Senate Bill 17-027, which increased the fines for texting while driving, and which was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. In the 2018 and 2019 sessions she also advocated for bills to ban holding cellphones while driving, which have yet to make it to the governor's desk.

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