The Colorado Single Subject Requirement

Article V, Section 21 of the Colorado Constitution states, Bill to contain but one subject, expressed in title. No bill, except the general appropriation bills, shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title; but if any subject shall be embraced in any act which shall not be expressed in the title, such act shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be so expressed.” 

Unlike Congress, our federal legislature, where unrelated items are routinely added to bills, that practice is not allowed to occur in the Colorado legislative process. The people of Colorado placed that limitation on our state legislature in 1876.

Once a bill has been introduced in the Colorado House or Senate, a PDF copy of the Introduced version of that bill it is promptly posted to the General Assembly website:

You may want to Bookmark or Add to Favorites that URL so that you’ll have it when you need it. Almost anything that you could request from the General Assembly that relates to a bill is provided as standard procedure for every bill that is introduced.

When visiting the site via a desktop computer, you should see a menu of options listed horizontally near the top of the page. When using a mobile device, you should see three small horizontal bars, likely on the right side of your screen, which denote a clickable pop-up menu.  To locate a certain bill, click “Bills”. The resulting page will display a short list of the most accessed bills of that day. If you don’t see the bill that you’re looking for listed there, then click the button labeled “See All Bills” or go directly to the “See All Bills” page via this link:

On the resulting page, you’ll have the opportunity to enter certain criteria, which should narrow your search for a particular bill. Those options include:

  • Bill #, Sponsor Name, or Keyword
  • House of Origin
  • Measure Type
  • Session
  • Subject

Once you locate a certain bill, you will be able to download a PDF copy of the current version of that bill. After opening the PDF, note on the first page of the bill, the words “A BILL FOR AN ACT” followed by one or more lines of text, which express the title of that bill. Everything in that bill must fit under that title.

While a bill moves through the Colorado legislative process, members of the General Assembly are allowed to narrow it, which would be done by offering one or more amendments to the bill during committee or floor proceedings. However, members of the General Assembly are not allowed to broaden a bill title after that bill has been introduced.

** 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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