By now, the Colorado General Assembly was supposed to be done with its 2020 session.
But as the coronavirus pandemic spread, the legislature temporarily suspended its session on March 14, and it's now extending that suspension an extra week, from May 18 to the week of May 25, to give additional time for preparations on safety protocols, planning what measures to push through...and to see what financial help might be coming from Washington, D.C., before the tough budget cuts begin.
“When we set out a tentative timeline to reconvene the General Assembly, we did so with the recognition that we faced a lot of uncertainty, and so we built in the flexibility to extend the temporary adjournment if needed,” said Speaker KC Becker in an announcement of the postponement. “As businesses across Colorado also begin the process of reopening, this extension allows the General Assembly additional time to double check our safety protocols, continue conversations on appropriate legislation and seek more information about any Congressional action that may be coming in the weeks ahead. We are hopeful that Congress may provide additional and badly needed aid to help us avoid budget cuts that will devastate our communities.”
“Last week our Joint Budget Committee had to begin the heart-wrenching process of rewriting Colorado’s budget after COVID-19 created a more than $3 billion revenue shortfall,” said President Leroy Garcia. “With so much at risk and our desired return date fast approaching, we determined that it would benefit all Coloradans if we gave our budgetary and legislative process a bit more breathing room. Though facing our dire fiscal situation has been a painful task, we are committed to protecting our most critical institutions and vulnerable populations as best as we possibly can. We look forward to continuing to fight for our communities in the Capitol when we all return on May 26.”
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Under an amendment to the Colorado Constitution approved by voters in the ’80s, the legislative session is supposed to run 120 consecutive days; the 2020 session was supposed to end on May 6. But the Colorado Supreme Court approved the suspension and a subsequent restart, citing rule 44, which was adopted a decade ago in the wake of the H1N1 scare and noting that “citizen legislators do not have to choose between representing their constituents in the General Assembly and supporting their communities through the crisis at home.”