History of the General Assembly

Just one week remains until the close of another Legislative session. Colorado's General Assembly has an interesting history and our library is one of the best places to find out about it. Here are a few resources for those researching the history of Colorado's Legislature:

  • John Straayer's classic The Colorado General Assembly takes a look at the processes and procedures of the state legislature. However, the first edition was published in 1990 and the second edition in 2000, so though not entirely up-to-date, it is a helpful source on twentieth century legislative history.
  • Presidents and Speakers of the Colorado General Assembly is available from our library. This fun little book gives short biographies, with photos, on all of the Legislature's Speakers of the House and Presidents of the Senate from 1876 to 1980.
  • Directory of Colorado State Government is available in our library for every year since 1979. This directory lists all the major players not just in the Legislature but also in the state agencies as well.
  • The official Legislative directories published each year are known as the "Pink Books" because they are, well, pink. Our library owns these back to 1972. These give a listing of all the Legislators, the committees they sit on, their personal occupations, contact information, spouse's name, and seating charts for the House and Senate chambers.
  • House and Senate Journals are the ultimate source for researching what passed and who sponsored it. Our library has nearly every year's journals going back to statehood.
  • Legislative Council Research Reports are in-depth reports on the Legislature's committees of reference. This series, begun in the 1950s, are all available at our library and also available online via our webpge.

There are numerous other resources for researching Colorado's legislative history, so search our web catalog or contact the library for more information.


Landlord/Tenant Rights

Yesterday HB08-1356 passed out of the House and will make its way to the Senate. HB1356 gives protections to tenants whose landlords fail to make necessary repairs to their buildings rendering the units unsafe or even uninhabitable for the tenants. With the passage of HB1356 tenants will be able to take their landlords to court for failing to make repairs or other safeguards.
Proponents of the bill argue that this will give more rights to persons at low socioeconomic levels who often are stuck living in poor conditions; with this bill, poorer persons will have options. Opponents of the bill say that it will increase the amount of litigation and will result in landlords going to court frequently over small matters.

The State Publications Library has a variety of publications regarding landlords and tenants, including Landlord - Tenant Rights.


Earth Day

April 22nd is Earth Day. Around the nation, events are being held to educate people about environmental issues. To find out about activities going on Colorado visit the Calendar of Earth Day events from the Governor's Energy Office, along with the Colorado State Parks Earth Day page.

There are many resources on environmental issues from Colorado state agencies:


New Report on Child Fatalities

On Tuesday the Colorado Department of Human Services released a report on child fatalities and maltreatment, investigating the deaths of 13 children. The report says that social worker negligence may have been a factor in the lack of investigation into the childrens' deaths, and recommends more thorough documentation by case workers. You can read the report here; also, a Channel 7 tv news story summarized the reports findings, which you can view here. The report will be cataloged by CoSPL in the next few days, and then will be accessible through our website.


Tax Day

Today is the last day to file income tax returns, and many folks are scrambling for forms and tax information. Most forms are available online: Colorado forms are available from the Colorado Department of Revenue, and Federal Forms can be found at http://www.irs.gov/.

If you're having trouble with your state taxes, the Division of Taxation has an online support site with frequently asked tax questions. To speed things up, you can file your state taxes online.

For last minute filers, there is a list of post offices and drop-off site with special/late hours put together by the Rocky Mountain News.

For fun, take a look at the Delinquent Taxpayer page. Individuals and businesses that have owed more than $20,000 for over six months are on the list. The list can be searched or browsed by names of individuals or businesses. It's interesting to see how many people ignore state law.


Political Campaigns

This is the season when political campaigning really gets going, and 2008 is a major election year for both national and state elections. Many state legislators are term-limited and won't be returning next year, leading to a whole new crop of candidates campaigning for their seats; or, term-limited legislators may run for other offices (such as Representatives running for the Senate). Campaigns for local (e.g. city) offices will be numerous this year as well. Because the primaries are in August, some candidates have already begun campaigning; there are already some ads on tv. As spring moves into summer, campaign season will really get into full swing.

So what does a political candidate need to know? A candidate must work closely with the Secretary of State's Office, and their website has a webpage especially for candidates with all the forms and information needed for a campaign, including the Colorado campaign manual.

The Secretary of State's website also offers information on campaign finance, always an important topic for candidates

Finally, two bills have been introduced -- and passed -- this Legislative session regarding campaign finance: HB08-1041 (Concerning the enforcement of legal requirements pertaining to campaign finance) and HB08-1233 (Concerning the manner by which campaign contributions from a limited liability company are to be attributed among the members of the company for purposes of Colorado law governing campaign finance).


Worried about the economy?

There has been a lot of doom and gloom in reports on the economy in the news lately. Some say that a recession is coming, and others think it may just be media hype. You can form your own opinion by reading the forecasts, and viewing the numbers in these recent reports from Colorado state agencies.

Colorado Business Economic Outlook 2008 by the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder, provides a summary of the 2007 economy, a forecast for 2008, and industry specific data analysis and insight into the key factors influencing each sector. Straight-forward and concise, these articles give a good overview of the state economy. Available in print from the Colorado State Publications Library (and coming soon to depository libraries across the state).

Colorado Economic Development Data Book, from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. A good source for statistics and information on the economy with sections on the economic base, population and demographics, employment, technology, taxes, education, cost of living/quality of life, tourism and transportation. Available in print from our library (GOV34/10.2/EC2/2007).

Focus Colorado: Economic and Revenue Forecast, 2007-2012, from the Colorado Legislative Council. Available in print at CoSPL (GA4.17).


Safety Clauses

Those who are following the Legislature may be wondering about Rep. Douglas Bruce and his well-publicized and generally unsuccessful crusade against safety clauses. Bruce argues that many bills carry the clauses that are not necessary for the "immediate peace, health and safety" of Coloradans. So exactly what is a safety clause? Safety clauses move forward the date in which a new law takes effect. You can read about them, and why or why not the use of them is necessary or unnecessary in different situations, in a fact sheet prepared by the Office of Legislative Legal Services titled Use of Safety Clauses. Although the memo is written for members of the General Assembly, it provides helpful information for anyone wondering about the use of these clauses and why Bruce is taking them on.

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