Colorado’s 2024 Legislative Session: Collaboration and Compromise Are Back


By Sarah Mercer
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

As Colorado’s 74th General Assembly commenced the 2024 legislative session in January, expectations were tempered by memories of a tumultuous 2023 legislative session. Fresher in minds was the particularly contentious five-day special session that resulted in the legislatively referred property tax ballot measure, Proposition HH, which voters ultimately rejected last November.

Given that the political landscape had remained largely unchanged since then, with Democrats holding a 46-19 supermajority in the House and a 23-12 near supermajority in the Senate, along with the sudden pre-session departure of two House Democrats who cited a toxic work environment, it felt as though there was something ominous in the air.

Despite all that, leadership in both chambers and across party lines was able to restore normalcy and decorum that resulted in a series of late-breaking compromise bills on critical issues including oil and gas air emissions, damages caps in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases and property taxes. As a result, the 2024 session concluded on a productive and collaborative note and is being heralded as one of the most successful legislative sessions of Gov. Jared Polis’s tenure in office.

Here’s a roundup of some of the more notable bills:


Housing affordability and availability remained top priorities for the governor, legislative leadership and rank-and-file members alike. Polis succeeded in the passage of a package of land-use bills aimed at creating more housing options by allowing homeowners to build accessory dwelling units by right (House Bill 24-1152), requiring local governments to allow higher density around transit (HB24-1313), eliminating parking minimums for multifamily developments (HB24-1304) and prohibiting limits on the number of unrelated people living together (HB24-1007).

Legislators also passed bipartisan bills requiring local governments to conduct housing needs assessments in service of developing more locally tailored housing solutions in future sessions (Senate Bill 24-174) and expanding the state’s affordable housing tax credit program (HB24-1434). However, some efforts failed to pass, including tax credits for renters (SB24-146) and tax credits for converting commercial buildings to residential use (HB24-1125). Likewise, a bill that promised to solve the state’s dearth of condo construction by resolving construction defect liability concerns (SB24-106) failed under immense pressure from progressive Democrats who upped the stakes by introducing a bill of their own that would have taken the liability the opposite direction (HB24-1230).

Property Tax

Tangential to the conversations around housing affordability were discussions regarding property tax relief. Those discussions were highly informed by two ballot measures: Initiative 50 and Initiative 108. Initiative 50 has been approved for the November ballot and would impose a hard 4% cap on the annual growth of all property tax revenue. Initiative 108, which must still gather signatures before it will be approved for the ballot, would significantly cut property tax rates for both residential and commercial property and would require the state to reimburse school districts and other local districts for the estimated $3 billion revenue reduction from state funds.

Three days before the end of the session, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill (SB24-233) supported by Polis as an alternative to Initiatives 50 and 108. The bill is contingent on the ballot measures’ failure in November and also provides a cap and cut. Under the bill, local district (other than school district) revenue growth would be capped at 5.5%, property tax rates for residential and commercial property would be reduced, and a certain amount of residential and commercial property tax value would be exempt from taxation entirely.

The legislature’s fiscal analysts estimate the tax break would total $1.3 billion statewide, while the Governor’s Office estimates that homeowners would save an average of $300 to $400 a year on their property tax bill. Although school districts would receive full reimbursement for lost revenues, SB24-233 would provide minimal local district reimbursement. The proponents of Initiative 50 and Initiative 108 do not support SB24-233, so we will either see a showdown at the ballot or a deal cut and a special session that resolves the issue before the November election.

Business and Employment

This session saw significant wins for the business community, with agreements on workers’ compensation claims (HB24-1220) and restrictive employment agreements (HB24-1324). Several concerning bills, including those on fee disclosure (HB24-1151) and deceptive trade practices (HB24-1014), were defeated.

However, some bills remained contentious, such as HB24-1260, restricting employer speech on religious or political matters, and HB24-1008, holding general contractors liable for wage theft by subcontractors. New regulations on biometric data (HB24-1130), biological data (HB24-1058) and children’s data (SB24-041) were also introduced under the Colorado Privacy Act.

What will likely be the most talked-about bill coming out of the session, SB24-205 would regulate so-called “high-risk” artificial intelligence systems. Colorado would be the first state in the country to regulate AI in this way if Polis signs the bill. Another bill (HB24-1468) would establish a 24-member task force to review all AI systems and biometric technologies to provide the legislature with recommendations for future legislation.

Energy and Environment

The session’s energy and environment debates culminated in a compromise between Polis, environmental advocates and major oil and gas companies. SB24-229 and SB24-230, the compromise bills, balanced new regulations with the withdrawal of more stringent proposals and ballot measures. There is also a handshake agreement for a three-year moratorium on any new oil and gas legislation or ballot measures. Wetland protections were addressed through HB24-1379, creating a new program within the state’s public health and environment department to regulate certain waters, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Sackett v. EPA.

Public Safety and Criminal Justice

Gun violence prevention measures, including bans on concealed carry in sensitive spaces (SB24-131) and increased training for permit holders (HB24-1174), were passed. However, an assault weapons ban (HB24-1292) failed to advance. Public safety reforms faced scrutiny, with legislation on prone restraint use (HB24-1372) and liability for peace officers (HB24-1460) being significantly modified or defeated due to concerns from law enforcement.


Transportation reforms aimed at overhauling transit systems, particularly the Front Range Passenger Rail project, were central to the session. SB24-184 introduced a controversial $3 rental car fee to fund rail projects, while SB24-230 leveraged federal funding opportunities.

Health Care

Health care legislation focused on workforce protection (HB24-1066), Medicaid access (SB24-110) and prescription drug affordability (SB24-203). A particularly contentious negotiation materialized in the last weeks of the session regarding medical malpractice insurance caps for damages paid in the event of suboptimal health care outcomes. A bill (SB24-130) had been introduced early in the legislative session to increase the cap over five years in response to several ballot measures that would have removed the caps altogether, which would have significantly impacted the health insurance market including the cost of care and insurance premiums. Polis stepped in to broker a deal, which resulted in a compromise bill (HB24-1472) to allow for higher increases than SB24-130 but keep damages capped.

If this year’s legislative session brought back collaboration and compromise, there’s hope that it will stick and carry through the November elections, which will be dominated by the election for president and an extraordinarily long list of ballot measures. It is also very possible that we will be back under the gold dome before the 2025 legislative session for yet another special session on property taxes. Be sure to stay tuned.

– Sarah Mercer is a shareholder at Brownstein and her practice includes political and public law and government relations. She pays close attention to state policy matters and has a roster of pro bono lobbying clients helping Denver’s underserved communities. Reach her at 303-223-1139.

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