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The Colorado Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled the State Legislature can resume its current session — suspended on March 14 due to the COVID-19 outbreak — at a later date. Here’s a press release from the Colorado Senate Democratic majority:
Today the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding Joint Rule 44 of the General Assembly after an interrogatory was submitted to verify it’s constitutionality on March 14.
“We are thrilled with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Joint Rule 44 of the General Assembly,” said President Leroy M. Garcia, D-Pueblo. “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.”
“I thank the court in reaching this common-sense conclusion: during a public health crisis, the legislature can pause and return back when it’s safe to do so,” said Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “This ruling means that when we return to the Capitol, we’ll have time to pass legislation to get Colorado’s families, businesses, and economy back on their feet.”
Under normal circumstances, the General Assembly operates under a 120 consecutive day limit each year. However, when the Governor declares a national health emergency, such as the current public health crisis Colorado is facing, the Legislature adheres to a rule that allows for the counting of only “working calendar days” and thus does not lose time if the session is suspended in a state of emergency.
On March 14, the General Assembly made the difficult but critically important decision to temporarily halt all formal legislative work until the people of Colorado could safely participate in their democracy. However, the duties of the legislature are far from over. Therefore, in order to preserve the important work being done on behalf of Coloradans, the General Assembly requested that the Supreme Court make a determination as to whether the unanimously adopted legislative rules of the body were constitutionally sound.
With this ruling, the General Assembly will be allowed to pick up where they left off at a later date–resuming its responsibility to serve the citizens of the state once it is safe to do so.
To read the full court opinion click here.