In Colorado use of the death penalty is rare, though its use overall has been falling nationally.
According to the Colorado Department of Corrections website, only one person -- Gary Lee Davis -- has been executed since capital punishment was reinstated in 1984.
Colorado currently has three inmates on death row, and it has been widely speculated whether prosecutors in Arapahoe County will seek the death penalty for James Holmes, who is currently awaiting trial for the Aurora movie theater shooting.
Earlier in the month Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett wrote an Op-ed in The Daily Camera arguing that while he is “not morally or philosophically opposed” to the death penalty, there are factors that make it impractical in practice.
Prosecuting a death penalty case through a verdict in the trial court can cost the prosecution well over $ 1 million dollars (not to mention the expense incurred by the judiciary and the cost of defense counsel, which is almost always funded with taxpayer funds in a death penalty case). To put this in context, my total operating budget for this office is $4.6 million and with that budget we prosecute 1,900 felonies, per year (and my office tried nearly 50 felony jury trials, including six homicides in calendar 2012).
Last month too, State Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) announced she is writing a bill to eliminate the death penalty in Colorado, calling it a failed policy that has "outlived its time."
Following Levy's lead, The Denver Post's editorial board joined in, arguing that the state should end the death penalty, saying that it is "unevenly applied" and is hardly ever sought in Colorado anyway.
The notable glitch, so to speak, in this largely Democratically-backed debate will be Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields. Two of the three men on Colorado's death row are there after being convicted of killing her son and his fiance to prevent them from testifying, and she has said that she will oppose repeal of the death penalty.
In Colorado civil unions have had long, bumpy ride to legalization. A civil unions vote has been brought up twice in the past two years and are likely to pass this year.
State Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) was elected the state's first openly gay speaker of the House, and he has been a co-sponsor of both civil unions bills in the past -- both of which died on a party line vote. But this year democrats have a 37-to-28 majority in the House and a 20-to-15 lead in the Senate.
This year civil unions are being called "just the opening act" of the Colorado legislature.
"I want to find a way to eliminate assault weapons, but I'm still trying to figure out how to do that," former police chief and current Senate President John Morse told the Associated Press.
Following the July 20th movie theater shooting in Aurora, a debate on gun control is widely expected. Democrat Rhonda Fields -- a state representative who lost her son seven years ago to gun violence -- recently penned a piece in The Denver Post titled "Colorado Should Lead (The) Fight For Gun Control":
Americans from all walks of life are speaking out loud and clear: Candlelight vigils and moments of silence are no longer enough. We need action, and we need it now.
Gov. John Hickenlooper too, exactly one day before the Sandy Hook school shooting took place, changed his tune on gun control saying that "the time is right" to debate gun control.
A group of people hold hands and pray at a memorial across from the theater, Monday, July 30, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed and more than 50 wounded in a shooting attack early Friday at the packed theater during a showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Police have identified the suspected shooter as James Holmes, 24. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Earlier this month on Dec. 18th, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper held a press conference asking for $18.5 million from state legislators to expand mental health care.
"The commonality in all these mass homicides... mental health illness seems to be at the heart of all these incidents," Hickenlooper said during the press conference.
If approved by lawmakers, the plan would also authorize the Colorado State Judicial System to transfer mental health commitment records electronically and directly to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in real-time so the information is available for firearm purchase background checks conducted by Colorado InstaCheck.
This October 2009 photo provided by the University of Colorado Medical School shows Dr. Lynne Fenton the Director of the schools Student Mental Health Service. Court documents filed on July 27, 2012 revealed that Dr. Fenton, a psychiatrist was treating James Holmes, 24, the suspect in the Aurora theater shooting last Friday that killed 12 people and injured more than 50. (AP Photo/University of Colorado Medical School)
Highlands Ranch Republican state Rep. Frank McNulty has said that he plans to introduce legislation that would require the testing of all rape kits.
Last November, the Denver Channel found that Colorado police departments were leaving many rape kits untested, creating potential blind spots in identifying and prosecuting serial rapists.
“It’s an arduous process for the victims,” McNulty told Our Colorado News. “Talking with some of the women who have gone through this process, it’s pretty traumatic, and to not use that information to catch criminals and save other women from being future victims, that’s a real problem.”
Boulder police commander Curtis Johnson testifies about the sexual assault exam kit he delivered to the Boulder Police Department after it was collected from Susannah Chase in 1997, during the Diego Olmos Alcalde trial on Thursday June 18, 2009 in Boulder, Colo. Alcalde is on trial on charges of murder, rape and kidnapping in the death of 23-year-old Susannah Chase of Stamford, Conn. (AP Photo/Pool, Daily Camera)
Colorado state legislators are expected to bring back the ASSET bill, which passed the state Senate last year before dying in the Republican-controlled House.
The ASSET bill (Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow) would provide more affordable college tuition rates to undocumented students who graduate from Colorado high schools. Tuition for the undocumented students would not be as low as resident tuition, but it also would not be as high as out-of-state tuition.
Metropolitan State University of Denver voted just last June to adopt a similar tuition plan for their undocumented students, though it remains a controversial decision since the legislature has yet to pass the ASSET bill. After Metro State's decision was announced, former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo said he'd seek out student plaintiffs for a lawsuit against the university, though that plan hasn't gotten very far.
At least 12 other states have passed legislation granting in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants.
Claudia Trejo, a 17-year-old Denver high school student is pictured in between classes at her school on Monday, April 16, 2012. Trejo who came to Denver illegally with her family when she was eleven wants to continue her education at a Colorado university. Colorado lawmakers are considering whether undocumented student should have similar benefits to legal state students. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
Colorado's school finance formula isn't out of the woods by a longshot. The Colorado Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Lobato lawsuit this spring, but state Senators Mike Johnston and Rollie Heath, both Democrats, are working to create a new formula.
That is, if Colorado voters approve of a tax increase in November for the new funding system. Voters however, have rejected Heath's proposal for a tax increase before, in 2011.
FILE - In this Tuesday, May 8, 2012 file photo, Victoria Slodov, left, 10, and Braelyn Singer, right, discuss a book called "The Dollhouse Murders" with their teacher Kim Malmad, at Moreland Hills Elementary School in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Funding cuts have often resulted in fewer teachers for the states students. AP analysis of state statistics shows the number of full-time teachers dropped nearly 6 percent from 2001 to 2011, the last year for which statewide figures are available. And a schools association survey last year and AP sampling this year indicate the trend is continuing, meaning more students per teacher and fewer course offerings. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
The Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force has until February to make their recommendations to the governor about how to best regulate marijuana in the state. Amendment 64, the legalization of marijuana, passed in November and received more votes than even President Obama, who also won Colorado.
While hammering out the proper regulations for a newly-legalized drug will be a daunting task, the president has said he does not consider going after pot users a top priority.
"We've got bigger fish to fry," Obama told ABC News.
State and department shields hang in the entryway to the Colorado Department of Revenue, Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, in Denver, Thursday Jan. 3, 2012. The Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force, the marijuana regulatory group appointed by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, started work Thursday penciling in the nitty-gritty details of pot regulation. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
State Republican Sen. Greg Brophy has said that he plans to introduce legislation similar to that in Wisconsin, to allow parents the ability to buy their children alcohol.
Brophy told the Associated Press he got the idea after he and his wife took his daughter out for her birthday and couldn't buy her a drink because she was one year shy of 21.
Gov. John Hickenlooper announced plans to expand Medicaid coverage in Colorado under the Affordable Care Act.
Under the expansion, some 160,000 Coloradans would be added to the state's Medicaid rolls.
“We worked diligently over the past several months to find savings in order to expand coverage,” said Hickenlooper.
He said his office had identified over $280 million in cuts and savings to pay for the increase over the next 10 years, allowing the state's general fund to remain unaffected.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, right, stands with Sue Birch, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, speaking at a news conference where he announced a plan to expand Medicaid coverage for adults as called for by President Barack Obama's federal health care law, at the state Capitol, in Denver, Thursday Jan. 3, 2013. Some 160,000 Colorado adults with low incomes could become eligible for public health care assistance, according to Hickenlooper. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows Colorado is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, with low snow levels leaving the state's river basins much lower than average.
While no specific legislation has been mentioned yet, the drought is bound to have made it tougher for farmers, created a strain for some ski resorts and threatens to bring another brutal season of wildfires.
EADS, CO - AUGUST 23: Rancher Gary Wollert pauses before heading out for work on August 23, 2012 near Eads, on the plains of eastern Colorado. The nation's severe drought has been especially hard on cattlemen and exacerbated when Congress recessed for 5 weeks withough passing disaster relief legislation. Most of the high plains areas of eastern Colorado and virtually all of Nebraska and Kansas are still in extreme or exceptional drought, despite recent lower temperatures, according to the University of Nebraska's Drought Monitor. The record-breaking drought, which has affected more than half of the continental United States, is expected to drive up food prices by 2013 due to lower crop harvests and the adverse effect on the nation's cattle industry. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
"This recovery is very fragile ... and right now, that's the most important thing," Senate President John Morse told The Associated Press. Colorado's unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent in November, the last available data.
FOX31 Denver reported on Monday that the first bill to enter the House this session would be a $20 million proposal to attract more jobs from the high tech and research industry.
CENTENNIAL, CO - SEPTEMBER 15: Olivia Holzhauer, 9, hugs her family dog Miley after she walked home from school to find her family evicted and belongings removed to the front lawn on September 15, 2011 in Centennial, Colorado. Sheriff's deputies served a court order to evict the family of five after they had earlier fallen behind in a rent payment, and the owner sued for their eviction. The renter, John Holzhauer, a home building contractor, said he lost up to 40 percent of his business due to the weak economy and continued housing crisis. He said he paid the owner his outstanding rent balance the week before, aside from a $100 dispute, when the deputies came knocking. The eviction team removed all their belongings from the house and changed the lock. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Another bill proposed by Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy that garnered a decent amount of media attention was one that would make the state operate on year-round daylight saving time.
Brophy posted on his Facebook page:
Two years ago I mentioned on FB how much I despise changing clocks twice a year. The response was overwhelming. Everyone hates the time change. Many urged me to run a bill to end the madness, so I did. It failed, but people continued to contact me and urge another try, so I will. This time a referred measure, hopefully Ref T.
In Colorado the tempo of fracking has gone way up. While residents of Longmont were able to ban it in their city, Boulder County Commissioners OK'd new oil and gas guidelines to allow fracking on unincorporated county land.
This week, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association has been holding hearings on new drilling rules, amid complaints that they've been limiting testimony from fracking opponents.
Land owner Mark White of Longmont, Colo., testifies at a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission hearing in Denver on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. The hearing on a proposed rule that would require oil and gas companies to publicly disclose most of the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing drew a large crowd. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
Though no specific legislation has been mentioned yet, the issue of whether to arm schools or not may be brought up during this legislative session. Republican Senate Leader Bill Cadman told the Associated Press that the republicans will consider "school safety" legislation but declined to elaborate.
Cori Sorensen, a fourth grade teacher from Highland Elementary School in Highland, Utah, receives firearms training with a .357 magnum from personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy during concealed weapons training for 200 Utah teachers Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)