State Affairs Briefing: New Legislators and a Shift in Leadership

The Colorado General Assembly opened the 1st Regular Session of the 74th General Assembly on Monday, January 9, 2023. From a partisan perspective, the 2023 legislative session will be the most left-leaning session in Colorado history. Democrats expanded their existing majorities in both chambers after the 2022 midterm election. In the House of Representatives, Democrats now have a 46-19 super-majority. In the Senate, they are just one vote shy of a super-majority – controlling 23 of the upper chamber’s 35 seats.

This year’s session will also have an unusual number of newcomers in the legislature. In total, 31 legislators – nearly 1/3rd of the total seats in the House and Senate combined – will be sworn-in for the very first time. This includes at least three legislators within the Colorado River District’s boundaries. The full slate of River District legislators is included below:

House District Name River District Counties
HD13 Julie McCluskie Summit, Grand
HD26 Megan Lukens Eagle, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt
HD54 Matt Soper Delta, Mesa
HD55 Rick Taggert Mesa
HD57 Elizabeth Velasco Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin
HD58 Marc Catlin Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray
Senate District Name River District Counties
SD5 Perry Will (as per vacancy committee decision) Delta, Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Pitkin
SD6 Cleave Simpson Montrose, Ouray, Saguache
SD7 Janice Rich Delta, Mesa
SD8 Dylan Roberts Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Moffat Rio Blanco, Routt, Summit

“Staff has done outreach to each of the new and returning members within the River District delegation and is looking forward to working with all of them,” said River District Director of Government Relations Zane Kessler. “Even when I consider the challenges of the makeup of this general assembly, I have faith that our relationships with our members here on the West Slope will be critical.”

During the First Quarterly General & Enterprise meeting of 2023, only one bill was brought before the board for consideration, HJR23-1007: Water Projects Eligibility List. This resolution is the annual resolution that identifies and submits the list of selected water projects for funding approval under the Colorado Water Resources & Power Development Authority. The resolution is traditionally sponsored by the chairs of the two agriculture committees. HJR23-1007 is sponsored by Rep. McCormick with Rep. Catlin and Sen. Roberts.  It is assigned to House Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources Committee. The resolution was introduced on Thursday, January 12.

The Colorado River District Board of Directors voted to support the bill per staff recommendation. Following the First Quarterly meeting, HJR23-1007 was presented to the House Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources Committee on January 23. The Committee voted to move HJR23-1007 to the full House and the motion passed on a vote of 13-0.