Skip to main content
Colorado General AssemblyToggle Main Menu
Agency NameToggle Agency Menu

Amendments

Question

How do I get an amendment drafted to a bill?

Contact the bill drafter (the drafter's name and phone number are at the top left corner of the first page of your bill). The drafter prepares amendments for the bill sponsor and other members of the General Assembly.

When can my bill be amended?

Your bill can be amended at different stages of the legislative process. Any member of the House or Senate can propose an amendment to your bill.

In the house of introduction, your bill can be amended:
• In its assigned committee(s) of reference;
• On Second Reading, when the body sits as the Committee of the Whole; or
• On Third Reading, usually only to make a technical change like correcting a grammatical error.
Your bill can then be amended at the same stages (committee(s), Second Reading, Third Reading) when it goes to the second chamber. The final opportunity to amend your bill is in conference committee, but not all bills go to conference committee.

Will the bill drafter keep my amendment confidential?

The bill drafter will keep your amendment confidential unless you give the drafter permission to release the amendment or to speak to people outside the OLLS about the amendment.

If another member requests an amendment to my bill, will the bill drafter tell me about it in advance?

Pursuant to section 2-3-505 (2)(a), C.R.S., the bill drafter is required to keep an amendment confidential until it is offered, unless the amendment sponsor consents to its disclosure. Usually, the drafter will ask the amendment sponsor if he or she will allow the drafter to release a copy of the proposed amendment to you. But without permission, the drafter cannot tell you about a proposed amendment before it is offered.

Can a lobbyist request an amendment on my behalf?

The bill drafter will prepare an amendment for a lobbyist on behalf of a legislator only if the lobbyist has the legislator's authorization, in writing, or if the legislator has personally told the bill drafter that the lobbyist has his or her permission.

How do I request an amendment on the floor?

Amendment clerks are available during House and Senate floor sessions for last-minute amendments. The amendment clerk desks are located at the front of the House and Senate chambers and are staffed by senior legislative editors from the OLLS. The bill drafter can also be called to the floor to help the amendment clerk and the sponsor draft the amendment.

How do I get an amendment drafted to the long bill or other appropriation bill?

The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) staff prepares the long bill and all the supplemental appropriation bills, so the JBC staff generally writes all the amendments to those bills.

The OLLS does write the amendments to the legislative appropriation bill.

Are there deadlines for amendments?

Yes. Keep in mind the following deadline constraints when requesting an amendment:
• When your bill is scheduled in its committee(s) of reference, an amendment that is longer than one page and/or strikes everything below the enacting clause (aka SEBEC), must be:
o Emailed to the committee members at least 24 hours in advance; and
o Delivered to the Senate or House at least 24 hours in advance.
• When your bill is scheduled for Second Reading in the House, an amendment that is longer than one page must be delivered to the House front desk by 4:00p.m. the day before the bill is scheduled to be heard on the floor.
• The House and Senate also have special deadlines for submitting second reading amendment requests to the JBC staff for the long bill.

Do I need to ask for permission for a Third Reading amendment?

Yes.
• Tell the majority leader that you want to offer a Third Reading amendment;
• When your bill comes up for Third Reading, ask to be recognized and make a motion asking the body for permission to offer the amendment;
• The body will vote on whether you can offer the amendment; if the majority agrees, you can move your amendment for consideration.

What is a COW amendment?

COW stands for Committee of the Whole. A legislative chamber sits as the COW when it debates bills on Second Reading. Bills and amendments pass or fail by voice vote, as determined by the chair of the COW, or by a standing vote if one is requested. When the COW finishes debating a calendar of bills, the legislative members, sitting as the House or the Senate, vote to approve the COW Report, which reflects the actions the COW took during debate. A member may ask for a COW amendment to reverse or otherwise change an action as reported in the COW Report. For example, if a member's amendment was rejected by the COW, he or she can offer a COW amendment to show that it passed.

In the House, a COW amendment can be offered only to change an action that was voted on during the COW session.

For more information on amendments, contact a member of the OLLS, the House or Senate Amendment Clerk, the Chief Clerk of the House, or the Secretary of the Senate. For information on amendments to the long bill and supplemental appropriation bills, contact a member of the Joint Budget Committee staff.

What does it mean if my amendment does not fit under the title of a bill?

Under section 21of article V of the Colorado Constitution, your bill must have a single subject that is clearly expressed in the bill title. This can lead to a question about whether a proposed amendment fits within the singe subject of the bill title. Consult with the bill drafter about title questions. It is OLLS policy to advise legislators when an amendment may be outside the single subject of the bill title. Keep in mind that this opinion is advisory only; the committee chair or the chair of the Committee of the Whole makes the final decision on whether the amendment fits under the bill title.

You can also ask for a written title opinion from the OLLS addressing whether an amendment fits under the title of a bill, but the OLLS cannot give a title opinion if the committee chair or the presiding officer on the floor has already ruled on the title. Written title opinions are provided only after consultation with the members of leadership in your house.

Who makes the final decision on whether an amendment fits under the title?

When a bill is in a committee of reference, the committee chair decides whether the amendment fits under the title. When a bill is in the committee of the whole, the chair of the committee of the whole makes this decision. However, when a bill is considered on Third Reading, the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, whichever is presiding, makes the decision. The chair or presiding officer may rule an amendment out of order if he or she determines that it violates the single-subject or original purpose requirements for amendments. Most of these decisions are made in committee by the committee chair or in the Committee of the Whole by the chair.