Weekly Policy Blog: Start of the 2023 Colorado Legislative Session

Colorado’s 2023 legislative session kicked off on Monday, January 9th, with swearing in, certification of election results, and opening day speeches from legislative leaders. Governor Jared Polis took the oath of office for his second term and delivered his inauguration speech on Tuesday. 

Priorities Highlighted 

Governor Polis emphasized that Coloradans are asking for affordability, public safety, access to healthcare, and opportunity. We will hear more about the Polis Administration’s plans and priorities in his State of the State address next week. Key themes from Senate President Stephen Fenberg and House Speaker Julie McCluskie were making Colorado more affordable, preventing gun violence, improving public safety, protecting access to reproductive healthcare, achieving climate goals, investing in schools, and maintaining election integrity. 

Budgetary Constraints 

However, another key theme for the 2023 legislative session will be budgetary constraints. As this article from The Colorado Sun lays out, the legislature is expected to have about $1.3 billion more in discretionary funds to spend this year compared to last, but almost all of that is going to be eaten up by preexisting spending plans, inflation affecting the cost of governing, and the Governor’s budget requests. There may be limited, if any, money left for the legislature to spend on new legislation. Also, the legislature doesn’t have billions in federal COVID-19 stimulus to spend this year, either, as it had during the past two sessions. Lawmakers will need to be keenly aware of passing bills that include a fiscal note. 

Democrats’ Expanded Power 

In this year’s 74th General Assembly, Democrats not only have a majority in both chambers following the November election, but they also have a supermajority in the House (46-19), which means they can override the Governor’s vetoes, refer constitutional changes to voters, and call a special legislative session. Democrats’ majority in the Senate (23-12) is just shy of a supermajority. Republicans have the smallest minority caucus in over 80 years.   

New, Diverse Legislators 

This year’s General Assembly is also one of the newest, most diverse legislatures we’ve seen at the Colorado capitol. Fifty-one out of 100 lawmakers are women—making Colorado second only to Nevada in its number of female legislators. A third of the General Assembly is made up of first-time lawmakers. For that reason, efforts to educate lawmakers about the value of the life sciences ecosystem in Colorado and issues important to the life sciences community—and the patients they serve—will be especially important. 

CBSA’s Education and Advocacy Efforts 

CBSA will continue to prioritize these education efforts as the Policy + Advocacy team collaborates with partners and policymakers around CBSA’s Policy Priorities. CBSA will continue to be at the forefront of efforts to support a collaborative, pro-innovation environment for life sciences in Colorado that will help advance the state as a leading life sciences hub. 

Following CBSA’s successful push in 2022 to reauthorize and expand the Advanced Industries Investment Tax Credit Program, CBSA will focus in 2023 on extending the Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program, which is a critical source of non-dilutive funding for Colorado life sciences companies. 

To get involved with CBSA’s advocacy efforts or talk about your concerns, perspective, or position on a bill, please contact CBSA’s Vice President and Counsel for Policy + Advocacy, Amy Goodman

Full text of Governor Polis’s Inauguration Speech

Full text of Senate President Fenberg’s Speech

Full Text of House Speaker McCluskie’s Speech

Categories: CBSA News