House and Senate Journals: the official record of each chamber

Article V, Section 13 of the Colorado Constitution requires the two chambers of the state legislature to keep and publish a journal of its proceedings. Thus, during a legislative session, the introduction of each bill, resolution, and memorial is documented in the House or Senate Journal. Where each of those measures is routed and what occurs in each place, is also documented in the Journal of that chamber.

Second Reading activities are recorded in the Journal of that chamber. Third Reading activities, including the final vote on each measure, are also recorded for each member in the Journal of that chamber.  Messages received from the other chamber or from the Governor, Secretary of State, Revisor of Statutes, or other official communications to or from that chamber are recorded in the Journal of that chamber.

Consideration of amendments made by the other chamber and the outcome of each such consideration is recorded in the Journal of that chamber. Conference committee reports and the outcome of each are recorded in the Journal of that chamber.

Each legislative session, all business conducted by a chamber is documented in the Journal of that chamber. The Journal serves as the official record of what occurred in that chamber starting on the first day of a session and concluding with adjournment “sine die” (without date) on the last day of each session. Note that each Journal would also include actions taken by the Governor to sign or veto bills from that session during the thirty days following adjournment.

The House and Senate Journals are cumulative documents that grow to hundreds or even thousands of pages in length during a session. Finding information in a Journal primarily relies on knowing the date that an action took place. For example, the date of a Third Reading vote on a specific bill would be listed under the “Votes” tab of the webpage for that bill. Finding that date and noting in which chamber the vote occurred, would allow you to open the session Journal for that chamber, scroll to that date, and then locate the Third Reading vote roster for that vote on that bill.

House and Senate Journals for sessions starting in 2016 through present day are available at the General Assembly website:

The House and Senate Journals for a current session are posted on the homepage and can be found by scrolling down that page. Prior session Journals can be found by entering the Year, Chamber Name, and the word “Journal” into the search field at the homepage. Example: 2021 House Journal.

House and Senate Journals for sessions held between 1998 and 2015 are available at the General Assembly’s legacy website:

Printed copies of the House and Senate Journals are also available for inspection at the Joint Legislative Library, which is located in the basement level of the Colorado Capitol. Information about the Joint Legislative Library, including hours and contact information, is available here:

When examining a Journal to locate a specific Third Reading vote, take care to differentiate between votes cast for or against a request to offer a Third Reading amendment, for or against a Third Reading amendment, and the final vote on the subject bill. Generally, it is the final vote tally that is of interest to persons conducting such research. If one or more Third Reading amendments were considered, then the final vote for that bill would appear below the sentence “Shall the bill, as amended, pass?”

When examining Third Reading votes in a Journal, it is important to note that each member and his/her vote are listed in a series of eight vertical columns. The member’s name is listed to the left, with his/her vote listed to the right. Take care to not reverse that orientation, which would associate one member with a vote cast by another member.

** The information provided herein is intended for general educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have questions of a legal nature, please consult with an attorney.

** Civics Corner content was written with the help of former Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert.

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