Current pause won’t shorten session

Whenever the dust settles on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colorado General Assembly would be able to pick back up where legislators left off when they suspended the session to help stop the spread of the virus.


The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the General Assembly’s position that legislative days do not have to be counted consecutively during a public health crisis, according to Senate President Leroy Garcia’s office.


The question was submitted to the court on March 14 to verify its constitutionality.


The General Assembly operates under a 120 consecutive day limit each year under usual circumstances.


But when Gov. Jared Polis declares a health emergency, the Legislature adheres to a rule that allows for the count of only working calendar days, meaning it does not lose time if the session is suspended in a state of emergency such as it has been this year.


The General Assembly on March 14 made the decision to stop legislative work to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and adhere to strict social distancing guidelines all Coloradans are practicing.


But there is still much work to be done when it’s OK to reassemble.


The ruling would allow the General Assembly to start back up where it it left off, whenever the date may be.


"We are thrilled with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Joint Rule 44 of the General Assembly," Garcia said in an statement about the decision. "While public health experts are advising citizens to stay home, we must continue to protect all those who do business at the Capitol by temporarily suspending the session. However, counting legislative days consecutively during this state of emergency would have been devastating for Colorado.


"As leaders, we were elected to serve the community, especially during times of hardship. With this decision, we will not be robbed of that opportunity, but rather be allowed to honor public safety measures while still preserving the breadth of our civic duties. The Legislature’s critical work on behalf of Coloradans will continue as it is deemed safe. When that happens we will have a lot to do, but we’re ready to rise to the challenge."


rseverance@chieftain.com


Twitter: @RyanSevvy