Government of Colorado
The Government of Colorado is the governmental structure as established by the Constitution of the State of Colorado. It is composed of three branches: the executive branch headed by the Governor, the legislative branch consisting of the General Assembly, and the judicial branch consisting of the Supreme Court and lower courts.
The legislative body of Colorado is the Colorado General Assembly made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Colorado Senate. Members of the House are elected for two year terms from single-member, equal population districts. Approximately half of the members of the state senate are elected each two years to four year terms from single-member, equal population districts. The House of Representatives has 65 members and the Senate has 35 for a total of 100 legislators in Colorado. The session laws are published in the Session Laws of Colorado. The laws of a general and permanent nature are codified in the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.).
The Governor of Colorado heads the state's executive branch. The current governor is John Hickenlooper (D). Colorado's other statewide elected executive officers are the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado (elected on a ticket with the Governor), Secretary of State of Colorado, Colorado State Treasurer, and Attorney General of Colorado, all of whom serve four-year terms.
There are also elected members of the Colorado State Board of Education and the Regents of the University of Colorado are elected from districts coterminous with Colorado's congressional districts or at large. As a result, the Governor does not have direct management authority over either the Department of Education or any of the state's institutions of higher education.
The executive branch of Colorado state government comprises 19 departments:
- Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA)
- Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC)
- Colorado Department of Education (CDE)
- Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (CDHCPF)
- Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE)
- Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS)
- Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE)
- Colorado Department of Law and the Office of the Attorney General (CDOL)
- Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA)
- Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA)
- Colorado Department of Natural Resources (CDNR)
- Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration (DPA)
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)
- Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS)
- Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA)
- Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR)
- Colorado Department of State (DOS)
- Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)
- Colorado Department of the Treasury (CDT)
Most crimes in Colorado are prosecuted by a district attorney. One district attorney is elected for each of the state's 22 judicial districts in a partisan election. The state attorney general also has power to prosecute certain crimes, and in rare circumstances a special prosecutor may be appointed to prosecute a crime on a case by case basis. Municipal ordinance violations are prosecuted by city attorneys.
The judiciary of Colorado is defined by Article VI of the Colorado Constitution as well as the law of Colorado. The administration of the state judicial system is the responsibility of the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court as its executive head, and is assisted by several other commissions. Colorado courts include the:
- Colorado Supreme Court,
- Colorado Court of Appeals,
- Colorado District Courts,
- Colorado County Courts,
- Colorado Water Courts,
- and Municipal Courts.
All of the courts above, other than municipal courts and Denver's county court, are part of the state court system. In Denver, County Courts and Municipal Courts are integrated and are not part of the state court system for administrative purposes, and the Denver Probate Court and the Denver Juvenile Court have jurisdiction over probate and juvenile matters, respectively. Outside Denver, these matters are within the jurisdiction of the District Courts.
Colorado is divided into 64 counties. Counties are important units of government in Colorado since the state has no secondary civil subdivisions, such as townships. Two of these counties, the City and County of Denver and the City and County of Broomfield, have consolidated city and county governments.
Colorado municipalities operate under one of five types of municipal governing authority:
- 2 consolidated city-counties, Denver and Broomfield
- 61 cities and 35 towns that are home rule municipalities
- 12 statutory cities
- 160 statutory towns
- 1 territorial charter municipality
Colorado law makes relatively few distinctions between a city and a town. A municipality may extend into multiple counties.
- Hamilton, Andrea L. (August 2008). "Conducting Colorado Legislative History Research". The Colorado Lawyer 37 (8): 113–115.
- State of Colorado government website
- Colorado at Ballotpedia
- Colorado at Judgepedia
- Colorado at Sunshine Review