DENVER (CBS4) – The state legislature reconvened Monday just long enough to go into recess again. Lawmakers adjourned two weeks ago due to concerns about coronavirus. In order to recess again, without calling lawmakers back into session, they purposefully met without a quorum, or a minimum of 33 representatives and 18 senators.
If they don’t have a quorum, they can adjourn for up to three days. Lawmakers are hoping to buy time until the Colorado Supreme Court rules on whether the 120 day session is consecutive, meaning it ends May 6, or whether they can resume at a later date when it’s safer.
They expect that ruling later this week. The Constitution requires the legislature to pass a budget and School Finance Act by June 30. It could, and likely will, hold a special session, but priorities have changed drastically from two weeks ago.
Minority Leader Patrick Neville agreed, regardless of the court ruling, the legislature won’t pick up where it left off.
“We have to look at everything from a completely different lens right now.”
Instead of a public health insurance option, unemployment insurance will likely take priority. Expect legislation to address price gouging as well as debate over how to spend federal stimulus dollars.
“We’re going to have a large group of medicaid expansion, that’s going to eat up a large portion of our budget. The federal stimulus money won’t solve all of these problems.”
The impact of COVID-19 is already mind-boggling, and Garnett noted it hasn’t peaked yet.
“All of a sudden, people start developing symptoms that require hospitalization all at once because of the way COVID-19 incubates.”
Garnett and Neville say mass testing is needed so the state can move from a blanket “stay at home” order for everyone, which Neville says is likely unconstitutional, to quarantining only those who test positive. At least one private lab tells CBS4 that it notified state officials three weeks ago that it had CDC approval to process up to 1,300 tests a day, but that the state has been slow to bring them on board.