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Bill Requests

Question

Who do I contact about a bill request?  Who will work on my bill request?

You should contact the OLLS for all bill requests. Each bill request is assigned to a drafter, who is an attorney and will be responsible for drafting the bill and following it throughout the legislative process. Each bill introduced in the General Assembly is approved by the OLLS as to legal sufficiency and form.

I'm told the OLLS is divided into subject matter teams. What does that mean?

The three OLLS subject matter teams are:
• BUS Team: Business, Health Care, Natural Resources, and Environment Team
• GOV Team: Fiscal Policy, Infrastructure, Elections, and State and Local Government Team
• LAW Team: Civil and Criminal Law, Education, and Human Services Team

This subject matter specialization allows the OLLS staff to gain expertise in particular areas of law and allows those persons with the most knowledge about and experience in an area of law to address the changes you're proposing or any questions you may have concerning that area of law. In addition to the three subject matter teams, the OLLS has an Administration Team that provides general assistance to the General Assembly, other legislative staff agencies, and the general public. Also, the OLLS Publications Team specializes in matters related to publishing the Colorado Revised Statutes and the Session Laws of Colorado.

How do I know what subject matter team my bill will be assigned to?

Bill requests are assigned to the subject matter team that specializes in the subject matter of your request. To find out which team or drafter has been assigned your request, contact the OLLS Front Office. The email address is: olls.ga@state.co.us

Can I choose a specific attorney to draft my bill?

You may request a specific drafter to draft your bill. The OLLS will make every effort to fulfill your request. However, it is at the discretion of the team leader of the team to which your bill is assigned to assign your bill to the appropriate drafter. The team leader will consider workload and subject matter expertise in assigning your bill to a drafter.

How much do I need to tell the drafter?

Before drafting a bill, the drafter needs to understand what you, as the bill sponsor, want to accomplish. If the idea is conceptual and you have not provided a draft or outline of the proposed bill, expect the drafter to ask questions to flesh out what you are trying to accomplish or the nature of the problem you are seeking to address and to make sure that what you're requesting isn't already covered in current law. It's the drafter's job to craft appropriate statutory language in proper form to carry out your objectives. You will help the drafter produce a draft that accomplishes your intent if you are as specific as possible about the legislation. Also, if you have received background information from Legislative Council staff or another source, please let the drafter know, and the drafter will coordinate with them with your permission.

By law, a bill request is confidential before introduction as a bill. The drafter will maintain the confidentiality of the bill request and speak to people outside the OLLS about the bill only with the express permission of the legislator.

Can I have a lobbyist file my request?

Yes, but a drafter can't start work on your bill request without your direct permission. We will take information from a lobbyist, but the bill request is not considered filed by you and will not be assigned to a drafter until you actually contact the OLLS in person, by phone, or in writing, which includes e-mail.

Who can answer questions or provide background on a subject before I commit to a bill request?

You can ask the OLLS to research an idea or topic for proposed legislation or research and discuss with you the history of prior legislation or legislative efforts on a particular topic. At your request, a drafter can also meet with interested persons or lobbyists to work on drafting a bill. Legislative Council staff is also available to work on general research requests that may lead to a bill request.

What does it mean to put in, submit, or file a bill "title"? If I submit a "title" to the OLLS, does it become the title of the bill, and can it change?

Some people use the language "submitting a title" to refer to submitting a bill request to the OLLS. It does not mean that the language you submit will become the title of the bill, nor does it mean that modifications cannot be made to the direction of the request during the bill drafting process. However, a member can make modifications to a bill request only if the modifications do not change the general subject or category area of the bill originally requested (i.e. school districts, elections, or corporations). There is no limit on the number of requests that can be related to a particular subject or category. Therefore, it is not accurate to say that a member has "reserved" a bill title.

What happens if I submit the same bill request as another member?

The drafter will let you and the other member know that your bill requests appear to be duplicates and can let you know which house and party the other requesting member is in. The drafter will ask for your permission to disclose your identity to the other member who requested the bill. The drafter will also be notifying the other member of your request and asking that member for permission to disclose their identity to you. Please note that either you or the other member may choose not to give permission for such disclosure. If neither of you gives permission to contact the other, and both of you indicate that you wish to continue with your bill requests, the drafter will continue to work on both requests without divulging any additional information about either request. If one of you directs the drafter to disclose their identity to the other member, the drafter will do so even if the other member does not choose to disclose their identity.

What happens if I change my mind about a bill request after the deadline for making bill requests has passed?

You may modify the bill draft as needed during the bill drafting process as long as the final product remains in the same general category as the original request, i.e., your water bill request is still a water bill request, your insurance bill request is still an insurance bill request. The OLLS will not let you substitute a bill request that does not relate to the original request. If you want to substitute a bill request that relates to a new category, you must first withdraw the original request. To submit the new bill request, you must get permission from your chamber's Committee on Delayed Bills to waive the applicable bill request deadlines. If you ask to change the bill request close to the bill introduction deadline and the drafter does not have sufficient time to finish the bill, you may need to also have the bill introduction deadline waived.

What happens if the drafter finds a problem with my bill request but the bill request deadline has passed?

The drafter of your bill will make every effort to determine whether your bill is covered by existing law or conflicts with the Colorado Constitution, U.S. Constitution, or federal law before the bill request deadline. If the deadline has passed and you decide to withdraw your bill request because of the information you receive from the drafter, you will be allowed to substitute another bill request. This request can relate to the same category as the original bill request or relate to a different category. You must submit the substitute request to the OLLS within a short time after you withdraw the original request -- generally no later than 24 hours.

While I can only introduce five bills, is there a limit on how many bill requests I can submit?

Pursuant to Joint Rule 24 (c), a member cannot have more than five bill requests filed with the OLLS on or after December 1 or December 15, whichever is applicable, without the permission of the Committee on Delayed Bills for the chamber of which they are a member. These five bill requests include any in which the member is listed as a joint prime sponsor, but does not include any requests that the member is carrying as interim committee bills, appropriations bills, or other exempt committee bills under Joint rule 24 (b)(1)(A).

What does joint prime sponsorship mean?

"Joint prime sponsorship" is when two members in the same chamber are considered the prime sponsor of a bill. The bill counts against each member's five-bill limit, and both members are responsible for the bill as it moves through the legislative process.

Under House Rule 27A and Senate Rule 24A, a prime sponsor in the house of introduction may designate one other member of the house of introduction to act as a joint prime sponsor of a bill. The opposite house prime sponsor may also designate one opposite house joint prime sponsor. On the bill, the names of the joint prime sponsors in each chamber are listed together in bold, e.g., Representatives A and B, followed by any other sponsors of the bill. For purposes of the five-bill limit, a bill with joint prime sponsors counts against the bill limit of both joint prime sponsors. If either of the joint prime sponsors in the first chamber has already requested or introduced five bills, that sponsor must obtain delayed bill permission from the appropriate Committee on Delayed Bills before requesting or introducing the bill. Both joint prime sponsors are responsible for presenting and explaining the bill in the legislative process. Either or both may present a bill in committee or on the floor and may request and offer, when appropriate, amendments to the bill.

Can I introduce more than five bills?

Pursuant to Joint Rule 24 (b)(1)(A), a member of the General Assembly may introduce five bills during a regular session of the General Assembly. These five bills include bills for which a member is a joint prime sponsor. To exceed the five-bill limit, a member must receive permission from the Committee on Delayed Bills for the chamber of which they are a member.
A member may also sponsor
• Interim committee bills;
• Appropriations bills; and
• Exempt committee bills requested by:
o The legislative committees created in article 3 of title 2, C.R.S.; and
o The committees of reference that perform the duties required in sections 24-1-136 and 24-34-104, C.R.S., as part of the sunset review process.
These types of bills do not count against the five-bill limit.

What is a delayed bill?

The term "delayed bill" refers to three situations:
• The bill is in excess of the sponsor's five-bill limit;
• The bill is within the sponsor's five-bill limit but is requested after the bill request deadline; or
• The introduction or a post-introduction deadline is waived for the bill.

Who authorizes delayed bills, and how many delayed bills can I request?

The Senate Committee on Delayed Bills (the President of the Senate, the Majority Leader, and the Minority Leader) authorizes delayed bills for members of the Senate. The House Committee on Delayed Bills (the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader, and the Minority Leader) authorizes delayed bills for members of the House. You must get approval for a delayed bill from at least two of the three members of your chamber's Committee on Delayed Bills. There is no limit on the number of delayed bills you may request; the number of requests granted is up to your chamber's Committee on Delayed Bills.

What is the process for requesting a delayed bill in the House and in the Senate, and how will I know if my request for a delayed bill has been granted?

Prior to the commencement of the session, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate establish the delayed bill procedures for their respective chambers. Once permission for delayed bill authorization is granted by the Committee on Delayed Bills, the OLLS Front Office is notified. Once notified, the OLLS Front Office or the drafter assigned to the bill can tell you whether your request has been granted, but if you have questions regarding the status of your delayed bill request prior to this notification, you will need to contact the appropriate Committee on Delayed Bills or its designated contact person.

I know my bill requests are confidential until introduced. Who in the OLLS knows about my requests? Who outside the OLLS knows about them?

Pursuant to section 2-3-505 (2), C.R.S., bill requests are confidential until introduced. The OLLS will not release a bill draft or even confirm the existence of a bill request without the express authority of the member who submitted the request. Every OLLS employee has access to the bill request information. However, we abide by our statutory and ethical duty not to reveal any information about individual bill requests and drafts. A drafter will consult with the member about the bill request and will ask who, if anyone, the drafter may use as a resource or from whom the drafter may request information. Without this express permission, the bill draft will remain completely confidential between the OLLS and the member.

Also, pursuant to statute, the OLLS releases drafts of the bill to the Legislative Council fiscal note staff to enable them to prepare an estimate of the proposed bill's fiscal impact. The OLLS staff or the Fiscal Note staff will ask you whether you will authorize the fiscal note staff to share information regarding your bill request with any state agencies that may be affected by the proposed bill. Without your permission, the fiscal note staff cannot share information regarding your bill request until after your bill is introduced.

What does it mean when I'm asked if the Legislative Council fiscal note staff can release my bill to affected agencies for purposes of preparing the fiscal note?

The Legislative Council fiscal note staff prepares estimates of the fiscal impact of proposed bills on the state's budget and on local governments’ budgets. To be able to determine the bill's overall fiscal impact, the fiscal note staff must send the bill drafts to state agencies that would be affected by the proposed bill. Because section 2-3-505 (2), C.R.S., requires each bill request to be confidential before introduction, the fiscal note staff cannot send the bill to a state agency without the bill sponsor's permission until after the bill is introduced. The OLLS or the fiscal note staff will specifically ask you if the fiscal note staff may release your bill draft before introduction to prepare the fiscal note. Releasing the bill draft before introduction enables the fiscal note staff to prepare the fiscal note in a timely manner for the committee hearings. However, you may refuse to release the bill draft before introduction, in which case the fiscal note staff cannot send the bill draft out to affected state agencies until the bill is introduced.

Do I have to identify an opposite house prime sponsor when my bill is introduced?

No. You do not need an opposite house prime sponsor when your bill is introduced. You must, however, have an opposite house prime sponsor before your bill can pass on Third Reading in the house of introduction. Talk to the Chief Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate about the form you need to complete when you have secured an opposite house prime sponsor. The opposite house prime sponsor's name will appear on the reengrossed version of the bill.

How do I get other members to sign on as sponsors of my bill before introduction?

While your bill is still in the OLLS' possession, a member may let the office know that he or she wants to be a sponsor on your bill. The member can notify the OLLS in person, by phone, or in writing, which includes e-mail. Once your bill is delivered to your chamber's front desk, the OLLS cannot add any more sponsors, but the front desk staff may be able to add sponsors before the bill is printed if there is time. You must contact your chamber's front desk staff to see if this special circumstance exists. However, if your bill is delivered to you by the sergeant-at-arms, rather than to the front desk, you may have other members sign on as sponsors by having them sign their names on the sponsor sheet inside the back cover of your bill. The front desk staff in your chamber will add the names of all members who sign this sheet before your bill is printed for introduction. Remember, the OLLS cannot add sponsors to a bill for you after it's been delivered directly to the House or Senate front desk.

Can another member add my name as a sponsor on his or her bill without my permission?

No. Your name will not go on a bill unless the OLLS has received your permission to be added as an additional sponsor or as the opposite house prime sponsor. It is best for you to contact the OLLS directly if you want to be a sponsor on another legislator's bill. However, in some cases, the sponsor of a bill or a lobbyist may tell the OLLS that you will sponsor the bill. In these cases, unless you've already personally given us your approval to be added as a sponsor, you will receive a call, an e-mail, or a personal visit from a member of the OLLS staff stating that the office is trying to verify whether you have agreed to be a sponsor on Member A's bill on XYZ. This procedure for getting your permission is called "sponsor verification." You can then say "Yes" or "No." You may ask to see a copy of the bill before you say "Yes" or "No." The OLLS will then get permission from Member A to give you a copy. If you still can't decide whether to say "Yes" or "No," you should talk directly to Member A. Similarly, once your bill is "upstairs," the House and Senate front desks also require verbal or written permission by you to be added as a sponsor to a bill. You should contact your chamber's front desk to learn what is required of you for this to occur.

Is there a limit on the number of bills on which I can be an additional sponsor or the number of bills for which I can be the opposite house prime sponsor?

No. You are only limited with respect to the number of individual bills for which you are the prime sponsor or joint prime sponsor in the first house. You may be the prime sponsor on as many interim committee bills as you like and may sign on as an additional sponsor or be the opposite house prime sponsor on as many bills as you like. However, you may want to consider the time commitment that you are making when you agree to be the opposite house prime sponsor.

Can I add my name as a co-sponsor after the bill is introduced?

Yes. When a bill passes on Third Reading, the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the President of the Senate asks for co-sponsors. If your name was not on the bill as a sponsor when introduced, you can add it to the bill after Third Reading. You may also get a second chance if the bill is returned to the house of introduction for consideration of second chamber amendments. Co-sponsors are added after concurrence with the second chamber amendments and repassage of the bill or, if the bill is sent to conference committee, after adoption of the conference committee report and repassage of the bill.