May 9, 2023 - News

32 ways Democrats changed Colorado in the 2023 legislative session

Illustration of the Colorado State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of DivInc

Colorado lawmakers introduced more than 600 bills this legislative session and many made it to the governor's desk in the 120-day term that ended Monday.

Why it matters: The legislation will impact the daily lives of people living in Colorado, from limiting the ability to purchase guns to making adult education free.

What to know: Here's a rundown of what happened this session and what the new laws will mean for you.

3 must-know things

πŸ„ The guidelines for legalized psychedelic mushrooms β€” including growing, selling and purchasing β€” are taking shape. The first licenses for facilities where you can ingest psychedelics will come by 2025.

πŸ”« It's now harder to buy a firearm. New laws raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21 from 18; require firearm buyers to wait three days before receiving their purchase; and make it easier to seek an order seizing a gun owner's firearms.

πŸš— A crackdown on rising car theft is here. New laws make it a felony for repeat criminals and allocate $5 million to a dedicated auto theft prevention fund.

Health care

πŸ₯ Hospitals can no longer charge facility fees for preventive care visits and must post notices about these often-overlooked charges.

πŸ’‰ The price of a two-pack of EpiPens is capped at $60 for those with insurance. Those without can apply for a low-cost program.

πŸ“ˆ The interest charged on medical debt is capped at 3%, instead of the current 8%. Other legislation also prevents medical debt from being listed on consumer credit reports.

πŸ’Š You can pick up prescription drugs as easily as grabbing a bag of chips under a new law that allows automated "vending machines'' in pharmacies, hospitals and health clinics.


🐺 The federal government must give Colorado a waiver before the reintroduction of wolves into the Western Slope can take place. Another bill sets aside $175,000 to compensate ranchers whose livestock and animals are killed or injured by wolves.

πŸš™ Drivers can soon buy a "Born to Be Wild" special license plate with the revenue going toward managing gray wolves.

🐴 The state can create a nonprofit entity known as the Wild Horse Project to prioritize a healthy herd of wild horses rather than efforts to eliminate or cull the herds.


🏈 Public and private colleges have the green light to solicit opportunities for student athletes to earn money for the use of their name, image or likeness.

πŸ§‘πŸΌβ€βš•οΈ Schools can hire licensed therapists even if they are not licensed by the state Department of Education to address a shortage.

πŸ–οΈ An estimated $2.5 million in bonus payments will be given to Colorado preschool providers to incentivize them to participate in the state's preschool program.

πŸ”Ž Schools will need to do more to investigate harassment and discrimination complaints and accommodate students who experience the behavior.

πŸ”’ A new Office of School Safety will help schools streamline security protocols and better respond to a crisis or emergency event.

🏫 A new education program for adults will let people 21 and older earn their high school diploma in person for free.

Public safety

πŸ›₯️ Boat operators must be at least 14 years of age, and a safety course is required for those who are younger than 18.

πŸ‘» So-called "ghost guns" that can be assembled at home are no longer legal and owners must register the firearms and complete a background check.

🚨 The false reporting of a mass shooting is now a felony crime. This bill also makes it easier to charge individuals for a false emergency claim.


πŸšͺ Renters receiving public assistance can't be evicted by their landlord unless a mediation between the two is held first.

1️⃣ A local government gets the first bid when a multi-unit housing complex is up for sale as a way to create affordable housing.

βœ… If you're looking to rent an apartment, you can use the same background check to apply to multiple listings, as long as it's within 30 days.


πŸ› Small businesses with less than $500,000 in annual sales will no longer have to collect the 27-cent retail delivery fee.

☎️ Phone calls for people in prison will be free by July 2025 to help inmates better maintain connections with family and friends.

🐈 Landlords must limit their pet fees. Renters' monthly dues for their animals will be capped at $35 per month or 1% of their rent, whichever is more, and pet deposits can't exceed $300.

βš–οΈ It will be harder for employers to skirt the state's existing equal pay law by requiring state labor regulators to investigate and enforce violations.

🚜 Farmers can legally fix their own equipment after a law mandating manufacturers provide access to parts, tools, software and manuals for repairs.

  • Colorado is the first U.S. state to pass such a law.

πŸ’° Casinos can extend $1,000 or more in credit to gamblers, repealing a previous prohibition on the practice.


🏠 A state-run insurer-of-last-resort will be created to provide property insurance where coverage is not available, such as in areas vulnerable to wildfires.

🀝 Most schools and government workers can now join a union and receive workplace protections, though the entities are not obligated to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.

🚻 Each new public building will need to include a non-gender restroom.

🚫 Politicians can block people on their social media accounts, as long as it's not a government-controlled account.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more