2018 Colo. legislature, by the numbers

Author: Marianne Goodland - May 16, 2018 - Updated: May 31, 2018

A woman walks down the stairs in the rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol as lawmakers work on the final day of the session May 9 in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The 2018 General Assembly session that wrapped up on May 9 is notable for a lot of reasons, starting off with the first expulsion of a sitting lawmaker in more than 100 years. And there are lots of other notable numbers to come out of the session:

Number of bills: 721. Is it a record? Not even close. Four of the five legislative sessions between 2000 and 2004 had more than 700 bills, with the modern-day high watermark set in 2003 with 738. This year’s 721 bills come in at fourth place.

Number of bills passed: 432, or just a smidge under 60 percent of the total introduced. That also is not a record, at least in terms of percentage. Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert routinely points out that despite split chambers, with Republicans running the Senate and Democrats in charge of the House, that well over 60 percent of the bills get passed each year. This year’s percentage just missed the mark; in 2017, it was 65 percent of the 680 bills passed, or 423 measures (with two vetoed by the governor).

Number of bills that died on the calendar on Sine Die: 2. If you aren’t impressed, you should be. Given that the General Assembly had more than 200 bills to deal with in its final week, that only two officially died on the calendar is pretty surprising. The two were House Bill 1143, which attempted to repeal state law on sexually explicit materials (tied to a court decision that ruled the law unconstitutional) and Senate Bill 252, which dealt with determinations of competency in criminal cases and was felled by a up-to-the-midnight-hour filibuster on May 9 by Democratic Sen. Irene Aguilar of Denver.

Number of bills handled by the legislature’s “kill” committees: 248. The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee reviewed 170 bills; the House counterpart handled 78. The big question, of course, is how many died in those committees: 135. Of those, 87 were killed in the state affairs committee in the second chamber reached by a given bill. Most of those — 67 — were House bills killed in Republican-led Senate State Affairs; 20 Senate bills died in the Democrat-dominated House State Affairs Committee.

The busiest committee: Appropriations, in both chambers. The House committee reviewed 247 bills; the Senate counterpart reviewed 215 measures, for a total of 462. The second busiest was Finance; between the two committees they looked at 265 measures.

So who had the most bills, and who passed the most bills? The members of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee traditionally handle and pass a lot of bills, no surprise. But this year’s champion bill sponsor was Republican Sen. Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs. Gardner’s name was on a whopping 71 bills, almost one out of every 10 measures. Of those 71 bills, 57 have either been signed into law or are awaiting a decision from the governor. Gardner carried 36 bills in the Senate and was a Senate sponsor of 35 House measures.

Gardner edged out fellow Republican Sen. Don Coram of Montrose, who sponsored 69 bills, with 21 in the Senate and 48 in the House. Of those 69 bills, 34 have been signed or are waiting to see what the governor does with them.

Among House lawmakers, Democratic Rep. Jeni Arndtof Fort Collins sponsored the most measures, at 40, with 32 either signed into law or headed to the governor for signing. That’s 25 from the Senate and 15  in the House.

Standouts: Republican Rep. Perry Buck of Greeley and Democratic Rep. Paul Rosenthal had the fewest bills, at five. Buck had just one bill that made it all the way, but it was a big one: Senate Bill 1, which put a half-billion dollars into transportation. Rosenthal’s one bill that made it to the governor’s desk took the word “not” out of a 2016 law.

Senate President Kevin Grantham also sponsored five bills — three from the Senate, two from the House — with just one signed by the governor: The measure to pay the expenses of the legislature. Kind of a no-brainer. However, leadership gets a pass on carrying a lot of bills because of their other responsibilities.

Newbies: Among three lawmakers for whom 2018 was their first term, Republican Rep. Shane Sandridge, who was sworn in on Jan. 17, sponsored three bills with none getting out of the General Assembly. Republican Rep. Judy Reyher of Swink fared a little better: She carried six measures and one was signed by the governor. Republican Rep. Alexander “Skinny” Winkler, who was appointed to his Adams County seat in March, carried just one measure in the 42 days he served. It failed.

The Lantern Rouge: It’s a term used in the international Tour de France bicycle race to identify the person who finishes last, but at least they finish instead of dropping out. That honor (?) goes to Republican Rep. Kimmi Lewis of Kim, who sponsored six bills: two in the Senate, four in the House, and not one made it to the governor’s desk. She’s the only lawmaker who has served a full term to miss out on a trip to the governor’s office for a bill signing, although her ideas on changes to the state’s conservation easement program were added to another measure that did pass.

There’s always next year.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.