On Thursday afternoon, March 12, the leadership of all four legislative caucuses in the Colorado General Assembly agreed upon a “plan of action” over the coming days to respond to the coronavirus outbreak known as COVID-19. The actions addressed the functioning of the state government; the upcoming party caucuses, legal adjustments to accommodate potential inability to meet as a body due to the outbreak, and even temporary legislative adjournment if need be.
House Bill 20-1359 was introduced Thursday afternoon. It passed through the House Judiciary Committee and had a second reading in the House of Representatives, with the goal of having it on Governor Jared Polis’s desk by March 14. It will give county political parties more control over how they conduct their upcoming caucuses, allowing them to change locations and even conduct them electronically if need be.
On Friday, a joint resolution will be introduced in the House of Representatives to ask the Colorado Supreme Court to for legislative clarity allowing them to count legislative days non-consecutively if need be, due to the outbreak. The State Constitution limits legislative days to 120 days per year, but it doesn’t specify if the days have to be consecutive.
A third step is planned; the drafting of a joint resolution that would allow the legislature to adjourn temporarily, if necessary. There is no timeline for this step.
“Protecting the health and safety of state employees as well as the public, is our top priority right now. We are currently navigating all of our options and will continue to do our due diligence in determining how to proceed in the coming weeks,” read a statement by Senate President Leroy Garcia. “By taking these next steps, we are laying the groundwork to act quickly if necessary, while allowing essential tenets of democracy to continue. In moments like this, Coloradans need unity, and I applaud my colleagues in both chambers in working together during this difficult time.”