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Democrat, Republican leaders in the Colorado House reflect on 2024 legislative session

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Posted at 1:33 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 15:33:35-04

DENVER — The 2024 legislative session came to a close late Wednesday night after 120 days under the gold dome of the Colorado State Capitol for state lawmakers.

Before the session started, Denver7 spoke with both Republican and Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives about the goals for each party. On Wednesday, the leaders revisited those priorities and reflected on the work they feel was accomplished this year.


House Majority Leader Monica Duran touted the bipartisan collaboration between the parties as the cornerstone of the 2024 legislative session.

“There are those issues that both our parties will not align on, whether that comes to gun safety issues, whether that comes to reproductive health care, whatever that is, immigration. We know what those issues are, OK, we get it. We understand. But let's find those where we have that common ground," said Duran. “You can just look back and see all the policies that have passed this session and see where that bipartisanship is. And yeah, we always try and find that common thread."

Housing was one of the top priorities for House Democrats at the start of the session after a massive land use bill targeting affordable housing failed in 2023. Duran feels Democrats accomplished their central goals of that land use bill by breaking it up into smaller bills this session.

“When you take on too much and try and do too much, it's overwhelming. So I think breaking it up into several different pieces of policy, and once again, bringing everyone to the table, listening to local governments, municipalities, hearing their concerns and issues, I was able to support many of those pieces where I did not support SB23-213, coming from a local government background," Duran explained.

House Bill 24-1152, which would require certain communities to allow homeowners to build accessory dwelling units, and House Bill 24-1313, which would require certain local governments along the Front Range to develop goals to build more affordable housing near transit, both passed out of the legislature. The two bills are examples of goals seen within the failed 2023 land use bill.

Duran also said expanding renters' access and rights was an important part of the equation and believes the bill requiring landlords to show cause for eviction addressed that. House Bill 24-1098 was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis.

“There was a lot of compromise in there. And that's what good policy is about, compromise. Not being perfect, but compromising," Duran said about the eviction legislation.

A bill that would have banned the transfer, sale and purchase of certain high-powered semi-automatic weapons in Colorado was killed in a Senate committee this year. Duran believes there could be a similar piece of legislation seen next year.

“My hope is that there will be really good conversations and that responsible gun owners are brought to the table to have that conversation to be part of that solution. And I think with any piece of policy, that's what the most important part is, is bringing everybody to the table," said Duran.

The session started in the wake of two former representatives, State Representatives Said Sharbini and Ruby Dickson, resigning. Both used the word "vitriol" when describing the conditions at the Capitol.

Over the summer, Reps. Elisabeth Epps and Robert Marshall filed a lawsuit against the Colorado House of Representatives, claiming "pervasive violations" of the Colorado open meetings law. The lawsuit was settled, but the two no longer serve on the House Judiciary Committee.

“Do we have challenges? Do we disagree? Of course, we do. Of course, we do. It's how we go about that disagreement and how we resolve it," Duran said. “I'm honored to be here. And it's a privilege, but it's also stressful. So we have moments, just like any other family, right? Where you hash it out, and you argue, you say things. At the end of the day, you come back and you say, you know, we're all good. We got that done. So, let's move on now.”

Ultimately, Duran feels the 2024 session was a success and had a unique emphasis on bipartisanship.

"When I walk out, to know that what we came in with, our goals and our vision, we got done. And we got it done in a way that feels really good. Feels like we did it in a respectful, thoughtful way. And we worked hard, inclusively together. I feel good about that," Duran said.


“There's excitement, right, to go back to a life outside of the Capitol," Minority Leader Rose Pugliese said with a smile. “I believe that Republicans and Democrats have worked better this session than I have seen it, even in my past experience as a county commissioner.”

At the start of the session, the high cost of living in Colorado was at the top of House Republicans' minds, according to Pugliese. She and Duran touted the property tax plan as an example of addressing the issue.

“We're bringing forward a solution that will bring about $1.3 billion in property tax relief to the people of Colorado. And so, to see Democrats and Republicans, especially considering this time last year, Republicans were ready to walk out because of property tax, I think it's an amazing growth in where we were a year ago," Pugliese said.

Pugliese was also proud of the bipartisan bill addressing affordable housing assistance she sponsored alongside Democratic State Representative Shannon Bird.

"That's going to give needs assessment and, you know, have the state be a help as opposed to a hindrance to solving the affordable housing issues that we see in Colorado," Pugliese said. "It really put local governments back where they belong, which is at the forefront of these conversations around affordable housing. As we know, this whole state looks different. And what's affordable on the Front Range is very different than the Western Slope or the Eastern Plains."

Denver7 asked Pugliese about the impacts of a presidential election year on the Republican Party before the session started, specifically if it would play into the party wanting to prove what it stands for rather than focusing on policy. Pugliese believes the Republican Party was united this session and focused on the issues at hand rather than the election cycle.

“What we saw was a lot of our bills coming to fruition, bipartisan bills that showed we really put policy over politics, and I think that's the most important thing we can do. I think that's what the people want us to do. And so, I think we're gonna bring home some big wins on both sides, which are really good for the people of Colorado," Pugliese said.

Denver7 asked about the failed impeachment of Secretary of State Jena Griswold, which critics have said was an attempt to bolster Republicans in the next election cycle.

“I still firmly believe that a Secretary of State should be a neutral position. And so, we'd love to explore, even with the other side, some potential bipartisanship around, you know, an unaffiliated or an independent Secretary of State. I think that there's some opportunity to have those conversations, and I'm glad to be able to bring some of those ideas forward," said Pugliese.

Overall, Pugliese was proud of the work House Republicans did in 2024 and is looking forward to the 2025 session.

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