You won’t need to register your pet with the State of Colorado


On February 8 at 10:39 a.m., HB24-1163 Pet Animal Registration System, sponsored solely by first-term state Rep. Regina English D-El Paso County, was postponed indefinitely—legislative lingo for killed—on a 12-0 unanimous vote of the House Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources Committee, which is comprised of eight Democrats and four Republicans. Afterward, it was announced that English had asked the committee to kill the bill due to strong negative public reaction.  

A reader asked us how this bill, which would have required, “the commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture to develop, implement, and maintain an online pet animal registration enterprise to provide business services to pet animal owners who pay pet registration fees to the enterprise by developing, implementing, maintaining, and administering the pet animal registration system, connecting pet animals with their owners and designated caregivers when and after emergencies occur, and protecting pet animals by supporting animal shelters that are caretakers of last resort,” came to exist.

Without addressing the challenges of how most pet owners could understand that legalese, we want to explain the process by which laws come into being in our state.

Colorado has 100 state legislators, 65 in the state House of Representatives and 35 in the state Senate. By rule, each of the 100 legislators has the right to introduce five new bills each session. Most take advantage of that opportunity to propose five laws they believe are important. Bills can also be introduced later under a list of exceptions.

Typically, legislators collaborate with colleagues, resulting in most bills having a minimum of two sponsors. Four sponsors are common. 

When a bill is introduced, it is referred to the applicable House or Senate committee for consideration, based on its subject content. If that committee passes it, it moves on in the process.

This bill is a good example of how the process works best. When people heard about it, they let their legislators know they thought it was a bad idea in sufficient numbers that it was killed in the first committee that considered it.

More typically, a bill has mixed support on the committee to which it is referred. If it eventually garners a majority vote, it is passed on to another committee that is impacted (e.g., the appropriations committee if the bill would cost money from the state budget). 

At every step, amendments are possible. After all relevant committees weigh in and pass the bill with a majority vote, it moves on to the full chambers of the state House and Senate, where the process of debate, amendment, and a vote happens again. 

Despite recent reports about vitriolic behavior and other difficulties at the state Capitol in 2023, according to data from the Colorado General Assembly, 617 bills were introduced in last year’s legislative session, of which 484 eventually passed, 88% of which had bipartisan support. Governor Polis vetoed 10 of those, leaving 474 to become law.