When Colorado’s legislative session ended a year ago, there were fireworks. Republican lawmakers walked out of the House chamber protesting property tax reform, a massive land-use bill championed by the governor died on the Senate floor, and animosity brewed in both parties as the law-making window slammed shut.

On Wednesday night, this year’s 120-day session ended on a relatively tame note. All told, 705 bills were introduced (compared to 617 in 2023), with hundreds of them passing both chambers. After Governor Jared Polis signs—or vetoes—legislation, we’ll know exactly how many new laws Colorado will have (last year, 78 percent of the bills introduced became law). Here’s a look at 11 important bills that passed both chambers, as well as a few that lacked support.

Land-Use Bills

Almost immediately after last year’s massive land-use bill failed, Democratic lawmakers began thinking about how to break it up into smaller bits and pass it this year. Though not every component of last year’s legislation was reintroduced, it was the dominant storyline of this year’s session, and Democrats saw major wins with several bills. These three bills are headed to the governor’s desk and could be the most impactful.

Housing in Transit-Oriented Communities (HB-1313)

Among the most noteworthy pieces of legislation this year, HB-1313 will require cities to allow for more dense housing development along bus and train corridors. The goal is to get more people living in housing units that don’t require them to drive a vehicle every day. Some controversial aspects of the bill were removed—including stripping cities of highway funding if they failed to comply.

Doing Away With Parking Minimums (HB-1304)

Forcing developers to create a minimum number of parking spots has long been an impediment to creating dense housing in cities. To address that problem, HB-1304 “prohibits a county or municipality…from enforcing minimum parking requirements for real property that is within a metropolitan planning organization.” There are some exceptions (commercial development, for instance) but the bill marks an aggressive effort to create more housing in cities.

Building More Accessory Dwelling Units (HB-1152)

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs)—small housing structures that are attached to a home or existing on the same property—have emerged as a popular means to create more affordable rental units. With HB-1152, lawmakers made it easier for municipalities and property owners to build and rent ADUs, particularly those in more rural areas of the state.

Landowner Liability for Recreational Use (SB-58)

Views from just below the summit of Mt. Democrat. Photo by Lindsey B. King

Outdoor recreation in Colorado often involves a patchwork of public and private property, as some landowners allow hikers, hunters, cyclists, and others to use—or cross—portions of their private land. However, the current state law did not provide sufficient legal protection for landowners if someone got injured on their property, leading some owners (like John Reiber, who owns some of the mountains along the popular Decalibron Loop) to close their land to the public. A bipartisan group introduced SB-58 in the hopes of remedying this, and Governor Polis signed it into law on March 15. The new law will require landowners to post signs alerting people to hazards that exist on their property; if they do, they’ll shield themselves from potential lawsuits.

Reintroducing Wolverines (SB-171)

The reintroduction of wolves to Colorado has made headlines in recent months, but wolverines have been on the minds of lawmakers. Unlike wolves (which the public voted in 2020 to reintroduce), the restoration of wolverines—the largest species of the weasel family—was driven by SB-171, which instructs Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to begin the process. There has been a growing movement in Colorado to bring wolverines back to what is considered a suitable landscape, and because they are on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of threatened or endangered species, the legislature has authorized CPW to take action. The bill awaits Governor Polis’ signature.

Oil and Gas Regulations

Coming into the legislative session, environmental groups and the oil and gas industry were at odds, supporting competing legislation and ballot measures for November’s election. Democrats had initially introduced bills seeking to give state air regulators more power over oil and gas decisions, ban new oil and gas leases, and enforce harsher penalties on companies that violate pollution rules. Those bills didn’t make it out of committee. But in late April, the two groups reached a truce, with both sides agreeing to drop their competing ballot measures and embrace two new bills—both of which passed and are headed to the governor for approval.

Ozone Mitigation Measures (SB-229)

This bill tasks state regulators with codifying pre-established targets to reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions. Nitrogen oxide is harmful to the human respiratory system, can lead to acid rain, and contributes to smog. SB-229 requires the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment to work with the Colorado Air Quality Commission to “reduce certain emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) generated by upstream oil and gas operations in certain areas of the state by 50 percent by 2030 relative to 2017 NOx emission levels.” In short, the bill seeks to keep Colorado on track by reducing ozone across the Front Range.

Oil & Gas Production Fees (SB-230)

By imposing a new per-barrel fee on oil and gas production, SB-230 aims to generate nearly $140 million in revenue, 80 percent of which would go to public transit projects—including the potential for a Front Range rail project. The remaining money would go to public lands and conservation efforts.

Gun Bills

Bristlecone Shooting, Training and Retail Center customer service representative Steve MacGregor, left, shows a customer several rifles. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

For the second year in a row, legislators tried to effectively ban assault weapons in Colorado, this time by offering clearer definitions for what that means in an effort to curb mass shootings. While the bill passed the House, it ultimately died in a Senate committee. However, several other gun bills did pass and will head to the governor’s desk. Here are three that are expected to become law.

Concealed Carry Permits & Training (HB-1174)

This bill essentially imposes stricter training requirements for people who want to obtain a concealed carry permit. While permit seekers already must take a training course, this bill defines specific types of courses and mandates they be taught by certified instructors and include at least eight hours of classroom time.

Secure Firearm Storage in a Vehicle (HB-1348)

This bill is somewhat self-explanatory: It prohibits people from leaving a gun in a vehicle unless it is locked in a case, which must be out of view, in the trunk, or in another storage compartment in the vehicle. Though the requirements differ slightly, the bill applies to both handguns and rifles.

Firearm Merchant Category Code (SB-066)

In an effort to make it easier to track firearm purchases in Colorado, this bill requires credit card companies to create specific category codes for gun sales. Governor Polis signed this bill into law on May 1.

Property Tax (SB-233)

This one came down to the wire. One of the last bills to pass in the 2024 legislative session, SB-233 marks a significant update to Colorado’s property tax code. In particular, it will reduce property taxes for most Colorado homeowners—by about $1.3 billion statewide in year one—and devote more property tax revenue to public schools. While the legislation saw bipartisan support, some argued for even deeper cuts, and conservative groups are bringing that question to the ballot in November.

What Bills Didn’t Pass?

Coming into the legislative session, one of the most anticipated bills involved taxing certain short-term rental units like hotels—increasing their tax rate from 6.765 percent to 27.9 percent. The bill, however, died in committee. Another bill that was expected to be introduced and have bipartisan support concerned “construction defects,” which make condo developers vulnerable to costly lawsuits. The bill died in a House committee in the final days of the legislative session. Additionally, a bill that would have created higher registration fees for SUVs and other heavy vehicles—with proceeds going to vulnerable road users—died in a Senate committee.

Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.