Quorum and Passage Requirements
Explained by State Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert Senate District 30
We’ll likely revisit this topic many times over the next two years, but for now, here’s the text of Colorado General Assembly, Senate Rule 2, Quorum:
(a) A majority of all Senators elected shall constitute a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, or for less than a day, and compel the attendance of absent members.
House Rule 5 mirrors Senate Rule 2. A simple majority, one more than half the number of all members of that chamber, satisfies the quorum requirement. A minority of members can COMPEL (call, require, force) the other members to return to their respective chamber.
Democrats will hold 41 of the 65 state House seats. Thirty-three seats is a simple majority of our state House. If 33 or more of the pending 41 Democrats are present, then a quorum will have been established.
Democrats will hold 19 of the 35 state Senate seats. Eighteen seats is a simple majority of our state Senate. If 18 or more of the pending 19 Democrats are present, then a quorum will have been established.
The same numbers (33 or more in the House/18 or more in the Senate) are required to pass a bill.
There is no filibuster in our state legislature. Members may speak at length, but they MUST speak to the bill. They/we cannot read the Bible or a phone book… unless the bill happens to be about such publications.
These are cold, hard, facts about our state legislature, which could only be changed by a vote of a simple majority or more of the members of a respective chamber… which isn’t going to happen. The majority isn’t going to relinquish such power.
Please keep these facts in mind and be prepared to share this information with others. I’m sure that there will be opportunities for folks to demand that something be done to stop certain bills that will be considered during the 2019 and 2020 general sessions.
As you advocate for or against legislation over the next two years, keep in mind that one party can establish quorum and pass bills completely on its own. In those cases, the only thing that can stop them is them.
Colorado General Assembly Math 101:
If five House members aren’t there on a given day, then the number doesn’t decrease to fifty percent, plus one of those in attendance. The number remains fifty percent, plus one of all members ELECTED.
33 or more in the House.
18 or more in the Senate
It doesn’t matter how many aren’t there in the House, it only matters if 33 or more vote “Yes” on that bill.
It doesn’t matter how many aren’t there in the Senate, it only matters if 18 or more vote “Yes” on that bill.