11:24 a.m.

Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, stands the House in recess, wrapping up the day's festivities. The chamber will be adjourned until 9 a.m. Thursday.

11:18 a.m.

McKean wraps up his address and the House moves on to announcements and introductions.

11:01 a.m.

Holbert wraps up his address and the Senate moves on to reading bills.

10:59 a.m.

Garnett wraps up his speech and Minority Leader Hugh McKean steps up to the podium. Here's an excerpt from his address:

"Instead of playing tricksy with words, let’s actually make things more affordable here in Colorado by eliminating excessive taxes and fees.

If families are not sitting around the table worrying about how to make ends meet, they are worried about the safety of their community and their children. Today, communities like mine face organized car theft rings, early morning raids robbing families on their way to get to work. This is not some fantasy, the monthly crime rate in Colorado is up 15%.

Today we find ourselves in a position of weakness. Laws passed in the last few years have put our way of life at risk. The policies have hit urban neighborhoods especially hard and have forced families to choose between living where they want or moving to where they feel safe.

That’s not fair.

Hearing the staggering statistics of crime in our state over the last year should not come as a surprise. In fact, Republicans in this very chamber fought for hours on end in committee rooms here in this building against the legislation that helped create the problems we see today.

As a result, Coloradans have had to deal with a 6.5% increase in violent crimes, the highest levels in 25 years. That included a substantial increase in homicides and aggravated assaults. Additionally, we lead the country in the rate of auto theft. Over the last ten years Colorado’s rate has increased by 135 percent while the national rate was only 3 percent, and we have seen the largest increase in property crimes of any state.

This needs to stop."

10:44 a.m.

Garcia wraps up and Minority Leader Holbert kicks off his address. Here's an excerpt:

"One year ago, President Garcia and I stood before you and spoke of bipartisanship, collaboration, and the fact that no one party has a monopoly on good ideas.

Since that time, three facts have become undeniable for most Coloradans:

  • Our state is less affordable than it was one year ago
  • Colorado families are less safe than they were one year ago
  • And, students are further behind than they were one year ago

People are increasingly aware that our current circumstances have evolved under one-party control. Over the past two years, people from throughout Colorado and across the political spectrum have demanded immediate action from us. And, time after time, they have been met with the reality that we are a part-time, even seasonal, citizen legislature. That we have general session law-making authority for no more than 120 days each year. That we can make no law but by bill. And, that there cannot be any bills considered unless we are convened in session.

So, here we are, some of us for our final, 120-day general session. Between now and midnight, Wednesday, May 11, Senate Republicans will focus on addressing these three issues and we invite the support of the Majority in addressing the needs of Coloradoans."

10:35 a.m.

Garnett begins his opening day address. Here's an excerpt:

"For far too many families across our state, the going has gotten tougher and tougher in the last few years. Despite the incredible work we’ve done to make health care more affordable, create a more fair tax code, and support small businesses during their times of need, life in Colorado has gotten more and more expensive.

That’s why my number one priority this session is to bring down the cost of living in Colorado and make life more affordable for families in our state.

As your Speaker, this will be the lens through which I will evaluate legislation: will this bill make life in Colorado more affordable or more expensive? How will this proposal improve life for everyday families struggling to make ends meet?

With these questions as our north star, I’m confident we can move Colorado forward.

Thankfully, we will not be starting from scratch. Far from it." 

10:33 a.m.

Garcia beings his opening day address.

10:28 a.m.

The House approves resolution for tomorrow's joint session, during which Gov. Jared Polis will deliver his State of the State address.

10:24 a.m.

The House and Senate return within moment of each other, with members joking about their trips to the other chamber and the governor's office. Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, makes a jesting motion to adjourn sine die, but promptly withdraws it.

10:15 a.m.

The House and Senate recess as members are tasked with notifying the opposite legislative chamber and the governor they are prepared for business. House members rib the Senate. "We are waiting on you constantly," jokes Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, to House members.

10:13 a.m.

Several members in both chambers are participating in opening day festivities remotely. In the Senate, Denver Democrat Julie Gonzales and Monument Republican Paul Lundeen are participating virtually, as is Danielson, D-Wheat Rdidge. In the House, its Reps. Andy Pico, R-Colorado Springs, Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, David Ortiz, D-Littleton, and Tracey Bernett, D-Longmont.

10:08 a.m.

President Leroy Garcia, D-Pubelo, call the Senate to order and both chambers and now underway with the state's business. Several members had fun with the roll call. "119 to go", says Minority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Douglas County. Sen. Jessie Danielson's young daughter announced she was present. And Sen. Ray Scott got applause for saying he was here after he participated remotely most of 2021 session.

10:04 a.m.

Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, calls the House to order. The chamber prayed and pledged and a choir that sang the national anthem. A special treat: the speaker's two children and niece led the Pledge of Allegiance.

10 a.m.

Former Senate President and current Fremont County Commissioner Kevin Grantham is in the Senate chamber for the opening of the 2022 session.

9:55 a.m.

Preparing to take the dais ahead of the opening day of the 2022 legislative session, House Speaker Alec Garnett stops to greet a trio of children.

Garnett kids House chamber

House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, ahead of the opening day of the 2022 legislative session.

9:45 a.m.

Lawmakers are beginning to convene on the House and Senate floors. Unlike the first day of last year's legislative session, plexiglass dividers are no longer in place to separate each legislator's desk. The plexiglass dividers are also no longer in place at the press table in either chamber. 

6 a.m.

Legislators will convene at 10 a.m. today at the state Capitol in Denver, where, for the next 120 days, they will hammer out public policy proposals, many of which will seek to confront the big challenges Colorado faces.

Legislative leaders will open the session with speeches likely outlining their vision and what they hope to accomplish for the nearly six million residents that, for the past two years, endured a global pandemic that took the lives of more than 10,000 of their loved ones. Coloradans also face soaring energy bills this winter, the worst inflation rate hike in 40 years and a sense that crime is on the rise.

The state’s policymakers will meet just a few days after a grass fire tore through a thousand homes, forced the evacuation of 35,000 people and claimed at least one life in Boulder County. The ferocity with which the Marshall fire, aided by strong winds and extremely dry conditions, engulfed entire communities came as a shock to many, particularly since the disaster occurred in the dead of winter. It also showed how vulnerable neighborhoods are, especially those located in or near the most prone-to-burn areas of the state.

They will hunker down over the next few months to offer solutions to an array of big problems, including funding for education and behavioral health, stabilizing the state’s retirement system, confronting crime, and providing economic relief.

Legislators will also convene in an election year and a time when the country’s ideological divisions fester.   

But amidst these challenges, a sense of optimism also permeates the state.  

Colorado’s economy is poised for a rebound, although the threat from COVID-19 lingers, and the state will have plenty of cash – $3.2 billion more compared to the current budget – to spend.

And unlike last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic compelled the 73rd General Assembly to take a five-week hiatus, 2022 might yet resemble a more typical session.

Both Republicans and Democrats earlier outlined their priorities for the year, and while their policy differences are sharp in some areas, common ground exists between the parties, notably in finding ways to offer immediate economic relief to Coloradans.