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Colorado General Assembly Overview

There are 100 individual Colorado citizens elected to serve in the Colorado General Assembly. There are 65 Representatives and 35 Senators in the Colorado General Assembly, the Senate having a smaller number of districts with each district representing a greater number of people than any individual House district. Colorado state Senate and House districts are determined by the citizen population in each district, and therefore can be made up of whole counties or portions of counties, depending on the population of that county. The population of the state of Colorado and its 100 electoral districts for the General Assembly is determined by the census, which is conducted by the United States federal government every ten years. Based upon the current population count, State Representatives represent approximately 77,500 citizens per district and State Senators represent approximately 144,000 citizens per district. The next census will be conducted in the year 2020, and Colorado electoral districts for the Colorado General Assembly will go through another round of redistricting.  Redistricting is the responsibility of the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions.  There are two commissions, one for congressional districts and one for legislative districts.  Each commission is comprised of 12 members selected through judicial review and random draw.  Prior to 2018, redistricting was the responsibility of the Colorado Reapportionment Commission which consisted of 11 members appointed by General Assembly leadership, the Governor, and the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court.  In 2018, Colorado voters approved Amendments Y and Z, which transferred the responsibility for redrawing congressional and legislative districts from the Colorado legislature and the Reapportionment Commission to the newly created independent commissions.

History

Denver had few permanent settlers until the late 1850s, when gold was discovered in a tributary of the South Platte River.  Colorado was unable to secure a federal sanction until the early 1860s, when it became the Territory of Colorado.    The first territorial legislature met in Denver on September 9, 1861.  Between the years 1861 and 1867, three cities shared the distinction of being Colorado’s territorial capitol: Colorado City, Golden, and Denver.  Between 1864 and 1875  Colorado had three constitutional conventions to draft a state constitution. Finally, in 1876 the Colorado Constitution was adopted, and Colorado became the 38th state.

The first general election was held on October 3, 1876, and the first Colorado General Assembly convened on November 1, 1876.  The Senate had 26 members, and the House of Representatives had 49 members. 

In 1881, Colorado citizens voted to make Denver the permanent seat of Colorado state government.  Construction of the Capitol building began in 1889. The legislature and the Governor took occupancy of the current capitol building in 1895, though the Capitol was not completed until 1903.

The Legislative Branch

The Colorado Constitution stipulates that the lawmaking power of the state be vested in a General Assembly consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives.  The Colorado Constitution further stipulates that regular sessions of the General Assembly not exceed 120 calendar days. A single General Assembly sits for two regular sessions, allowing the same 100 elected officials to be in office for a two-year working period.

A candidate for the General Assembly must be at least 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of the district they wish to represent for at least 12 months before the election. Colorado general elections are currently held on the first Tuesday in November.

Representatives are elected for two-year terms, and can serve no more than four consecutive terms limiting each member to 8 years of service.  Senators are elected to four-year terms, with half of the Senators elected every two years. Senators can serve no more than two consecutive terms limiting each member to 8 years of service. 

In each legislative body, the political party having the most members elected serves as the majority party, and the remaining members serve as the minority party. The President of the Senate and the Speaker House of Representatives are the presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. The President and the Speaker are members of the majority party and elected to said role by his or her party’s caucus. During the opening day of the General Assembly every two years, the President and Speaker are each elected by a majority vote of members in their respective houses.  In addition to the presiding officers, the majority and minority parties elect the majority leader and minority leader, respectively. 

The Senate and House of Representatives each have their own respective chief administrative and parliamentary officer, known as the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House. The Secretary and the Chief Clerk  oversee the parliamentary process, procedural efficiency, specific budgets, daily order of business, and  employees of the Senate and House of Representatives.

How Citizens Can Participate in the Legislative Process

The opinions of individuals are very important to all legislators. Citizens may appear before committees to express their views on bills. For more information, see Participation in Legislative Hearings.

However, if attempting to influence legislation for others, registering as a lobbyist is required.  Click here to download the form to register

Citizens may contact a legislator in person or by telephone, mail, or email to make their opinions known on proposed legislation or to suggest new legislation.  To find your legislator, click the Find My Legislator icon near the bottom of this page.

COVID-19 Resources
2021 Ballot Information Booklet (Blue Book)
NORTH ENTRANCE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED.  TO ENTER THE CAPITOL, USE THE SOUTH ENTRANCE, UNDER THE STAIRS, AT 14th AVENUE AND SHERMAN STREET.