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3 takeaways from Colorado's 2024 legislative session

Colorado lawmakers reach consensus on housing, taxes

the Colorado state capitol

photo from Christian Murdock/the Gazette

Colorado policymakers wrapped up this year's legislative session on Wednesday night, following a hectic pace that saw them passing major proposals on housing, taxes and guns.

Here are three takeaways.      

Lawmakers find agreement on difficult subjects 

In a sharp contrast to last year's session, Democrats and Republicans found common ground on several big subjects that have, for years, eluded bipartisan cooperation. Notably, they agreed on legislation that sets up a new Taxpayer's Bill of Rights refund mechanism and provides an income tax rate cut, bringing together Republican lawmakers who have long advocated for income tax rate reductions and their Democratic colleagues who want the governor's support for bills that use the TABOR surplus to pay for workforce and child poverty issues. They also agreed on a proposal that supporters said would address skyrocketing property taxes. The measure reduces property tax assessment rates for homeowners and commercial building owners.        

Hot-button proposals from Democrats' progressive wing fail 

Republicans and Democrats found more success when tackling more practical problems, while the more ideologically-driven and hot-button proposals once more failed. Notably, lawmakers killed a proposal that sought a legislative path toward allowing facilities where people can use illegal drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. And, for the second year in a row, progressive Democrats' efforts to pass a bill banning so-called "assault weapons" didn't go anywhere, though this year's version made it further in the process, making it to the state Senate before being postponed by its sponsor.

Property tax fight is far from over

The end of the legislative session heralds the beginning of a ballot measure battle over property taxes, as a group insists that the legislative approach adopted by Democrats and Republicans is insufficient. One ballot initiative championed by Advance Colorado seeks to reduce residential and business property tax rates down to roughly 2022 levels and cap future revenue growth to no more than 4% year over year. Initiative advocates said they are not convinced the agreement struck by Gov. Jared Polis, Democrats and Republicans, along with several groups, would offer meaningful relief to businesses and homeowners. Meanwhile, the deal's supporters said it would do exactly that — while taking into account the fiscal needs of local government and school districts. The points raised by both sides will likely form the backbone of the arguments the public will hear during the general election in November. Indeed, as amended, the lawmakers' property tax bill would not go into effect if voters approved the Advance Colorado initiative — or the other one the group is working on or both.

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