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Republicans stage walkout at the Colorado State Capitol on final day of the legislative session

Republicans stage a walkout at the Colorado State Capitol
Republicans stage a walkout at the Colorado State Capitol 02:52

State lawmakers passed a property tax relief bill in the final hours of Colorado's legislative session, but not without some fireworks. Republicans stormed out of the House chamber after Democrats deployed an obscure rule to abruptly shut down debate and call a vote on the bill.

Democrats have their biggest majority ever this year and the only power Republicans have is to filibuster bills they don't like. They were prepared to run the clock out on a property tax relief bill, saying it would essentially eliminate refunds under Taxpayer Bill of Rights and use the money instead to backfill lost revenue to special districts and local governments. But after 2 hours of discussion, Democrats had heard enough. Colorado Speaker of the House Julie McCluskie used Rule 16 to force a vote on the bill.

"They've got two-thirds majority. They're running the entire place. And so why go to next level of control and really just silencing voices?" asked Republican state Rep. Mike Lynch.

He led Republicans in a walkout.

Colorado House Republicans walk out of the legislative session on Monday. CBS

"We represent people. The 46% of this state that voted for us and the majority of the land mass which is represented right behind me (referencing his colleagues) is not going to take this anymore."

The property tax measure needs voter approval and Democrats tied it to a bill changing how refunds are distributed so lower income earners get more money if they pass the property tax relief measure, which will be Proposition HH on the November ballot.

If it passes, every taxpayer will receive a refund of about $650 instead of refunds being based on how much income tax you pay in. And homeowners will pay less of an increase in property taxes, but also get less of a tax refund in years to come.

Lynch says Democrats are holding low-income earners hostage.

"If they didn't vote for Proposition HH they didn't get their normalized refund. That's just dirty pool," he said.

State Sen. Chris Hansen, one of the bill sponsors, insists the two measures are aimed at striking a balance.

"What we are really trying to do is have revenue retention closely match the amount of backfill mechanism we need for schools," he said.

While Democrats saved the property tax bill, a bill aimed at increasing affordable housing by giving the state a say in land use decisions failed in the final hours.

Democrat state Rep. Rachael Zenzinger broke with her party to oppose the bill.

"If you're going to take over as a state land use planning then you have to do it for all. Unfortunately they started carving out different communities and saying 'It's going to be required for you but not you,' and once you go down that road it's no longer a statewide concern."

Gov. Jared Polis released a statement following the conclusion of the session:

"Governor Polis will continue his fight to better protect the property rights of homeowners and make Colorado more affordable to purchase or rent homes because changing the status quo isn't easy. He is deeply disappointed that politics and special interests continue to delay delivering real results for aging Colorado seniors who want to downsize, young families who want to live close to their work and the communities where they grew up, and businesses struggling with workplace shortages because of artificially high housing costs. Governor Polis - in partnership with a broad coalition with the courage to take on the status quo - is deeply committed to addressing the higher and higher costs facing hardworking Coloradans across our state and the Governor is more confident than ever that reducing costly barriers to housing will prevail. The Governor remains committed to reducing the cost of housing for rent and purchase to save people money, improving our air quality, reducing traffic, improving water efficiency, and improving the quality of life in Colorado."

Lawmakers took up about 600 bills in all this legislative session.

Left, Right, Center: Analysis of this year's Colorado legislative session 05:24
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