Jan 13, 2023 - News

Capitol Pulse: All the historic firsts from the 2023 Colorado Legislature

The Colorado House chambers are prepared for the first day of the 2023 legislative session. Photo: RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images

The Colorado House chambers are prepared for the first day of the 2023 legislative session. Photo: RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images

Plenty of wide-eyed faces roamed the marbled hallways at the Capitol this week as the Colorado Legislature started its 120-day lawmaking session.

  • One-third of the 100 General Assembly members are newcomers, and nearly half of the House is rookies.

What to know: The new session is being heralded for its historic firsts.

  • The Legislature is majority women (50 to 49, with one vacancy) for the first time, only the second state to reach the mark.
  • The state boasts the largest number of LGBTQ members at 13, according to Arvada Democrat, Rep. Brianna Titone, the first transgender lawmaker to serve in caucus leadership.
  • Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon) is the first woman from the Western Slope to serve as House speaker.
  • And women are in the top three leadership positions for the first time. Rep. Jennifer Bacon (D-Denver) is the first Black woman to serve as assistant majority leader.
  • Rep. Junie Joseph (D-Boulder) is the first Haitian-American to serve in the Legislature, while her colleague Elizabeth Velasco (D-Glenwood Springs) is the first Latina from the Western Slope. Rep. Regina English is the first Black woman to represent El Paso County.

Why it matters: The theme of diversity defined the opening week and affects what legislation is introduced this year. "We will each bring our own lived experiences to the table that will help us craft policies and solutions," McCluskie said.

The intrigue: How long women remain the majority may change after state Rep. Tracey Bernett's resignation on the eve of the election. If she's replaced by a male lawmaker, the gender split will move to 50-50.

๐Ÿ Capitol Pulse is a weekly feature to catch up quick on what happened at the Capitol during the legislative session.

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