Jan 9, 2024 - Politics

5 things to know about the 2024 legislative session

The Colorado Capitol. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Colorado Capitol. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Democratic leaders are under the microscope as lawmakers return for the 2024 session today.

State of play: The vitriol in the Democratic majority at the Capitol is reaching new levels with the rare censure of a lawmaker, resignation of two others citing the mood in the building and lingering partisan ill will from a year ago.

Why it matters: The Democratic disunity and Republican delay tactics will provide plenty of drama that will disrupt lawmaking on major policy issues from criminal justice to affordability.

What to watch: Beyond the elevated tension marking this term, here are four other themes that will define the session.

1. The Democratic agenda. The majority party plans to restart battles they lost or didn't make enough headway on in prior years, including housing, climate change, gun violence and mass transit.

What they're saying: "Housing affordability is still very much at the top of the list and I think we're going to make some big moves on that," Senate President Steve Fenberg told us.

2. Spotlight on secrecy. Under legal pressure, leaders in both major parties agreed to a court settlement that mandates no more secret meetings or vanishing text messages. On Friday, a judge ordered lawmakers to stop using a secret ranking system for spending priorities.

The intrigue: Whether lawmakers adhere to the new orders or find new workarounds remains unclear. But the mandates have the potential to create more public accountability.

3. It's all about the money. In the interim, Democrats drafted more than 50 bills worth billions in state spending.

Reality check: They don't have enough money for all their priorities, particularly when combined with other issues like housing and property taxes, so some won't make it.

4. The election looms. At least a handful of lawmakers will face challenges from within their own party in the 2024 election, raising the stakes of the term.

  • Outside organizations are preparing to put measures on the ballot that will influence the lawmaking, a proverbial anvil dangling over their work.
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