With a new year comes the beginning of another legislative session here in Colorado. After the 2022 election, we have a little different legislative make-up, but only in numbers. In the Colorado House of Representatives, Speaker Julie McCluskie of Dillon will now lead 46 Democrats, while Minority Leader Mike Lynch of Wellington will lead 19 Republicans. In the Colorado Senate, returning President Steve Fenberg of Boulder will lead 23 Democrats and Minority Leader Paul Lundeen of Monument will lead 12 Republicans. With the Democrats holding a supermajority in the House and a near supermajority in the Senate, the discussions will continue to be controlled by the Democratic Party. 

The Democrats have publicly stated that their top priorities will be “housing affordability, water policy, and public safety.” Water is at the forefront of all our minds–with persistent drought throughout the state and discussions around many of our interstate compacts continuously presenting looming concerns–and this will be a topic of significant attention this session. Water has always been a top priority for Colorado Farm Bureau as we continue to protect the interests of agricultural water users and private property rights. However, with the increased focus on agricultural water, it is now more important than ever to protect Colorado’s interests in interstate compacts and the ability for agriculture to protect their water rights while providing certainty and order to the entire system. We expect to see legislation adding staff to the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture to support efforts on the Colorado River, around the state, and for agriculture water specifically. We will keep a close eye on any other bills impacting Colorado Water. 

Outside of water and the other stated priorities by legislators, we expect to see a number of other issues this coming session, including animal welfare and pesticides. In the last couple of years, we have battled–and many times prevailed–against a number of attempts to legislate or regulate specific animal welfare topics. The first animal welfare-related bill we expect to see is an attempt to outlaw the buying and selling of horses for slaughter. We also expect to see a bill from the Governor’s office allocating money for feral horse fertility control efforts. We continue to engage on issues related to animal welfare, protecting the animals and the livelihoods of those who care for them.

Next, the Pesticide Applicators Act sunset review will be considered in this session. The Pesticide Applicators Act authorizes the licensing of pesticide applicators in this state. CFB will advocate to ensure agriculture is provided the necessary tools to safely and effectively manage pests and cultivate their crops.  Additionally, we expect another effort to repeal state preemption of pesticides to allow local governments to regulate pesticides in their jurisdictions.

Overall, we expect similar issues we have seen in the past few years, such as climate-related policy. However, your team here at Colorado Farm Bureau will continue to advocate for Colorado agriculture and our member’s interests fervently. If you have questions about bills or would like to testify, please get in touch with Austin Vincent and follow along on CFB’s action center to receive emails and text messages about important calls to action.