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Uncertainty for state legislature with COVID19

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Posted at 5:36 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 20:52:29-04

DENVER — It was a quick day of the legislature Monday. The House and the Senate lasting minutes.

Colorado lawmakers initially were set to return to work on Monday, but with the spread of COVID-19 in the state- legislative leaders are hoping to pick the session back up on April 13th.

The Senate and House both adjourned for three days Monday morning, after neither met an attendance majority outlined in the rules. When this happens, both House and Senate are allowed to adjourn for up to three days without additional approval.

"This pandemic is impacting Colorado in a growing way and we think it's responsible not to be convened," said Senate President Leroy Garcia.

Garcia sent out a letter to lawmakers to sign asking for approval to extend the adjournment period to April 13th. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers raised concerns over the rules allowing for a vote not in person.

Ultimately, nine representatives and about a dozen state senators showed up Monday morning as both chambers declared adjournment.

One Senator in the chamber, Colorado Springs Sen. Bob Gardner spoke to News5 over the weekend and said he believes the legislature needs to be meeting to address concerns related to the pandemic.

"Right now the executive branch of our government is in complete control of all of the levers of power," Gardner said, he "we ought to come together as a general assembly and decide what it is that we can do what checks and balances ought to put in place on the executive branch."

Gardner added lawmakers should practice social distancing while meeting.

Senate President Leroy Garcia says the responsible thing to do is to stay out of session.

"The Governor is the Governor and the General Assembly finds itself right now in a place where it is not convened," said Garcia, "it goes against everything we are encouraging our citizens to do."

Legislative leadership also hopes during the next three days they'll hear from the state Supreme Court. Ahead of the adjournment, lawmakers asked the court for an opinion on if the 120 day legislative needs to be consecutive or not.

Garcia says it is likely some lawmakers may return again in the next three days and if a majority isn't present- they will adjourn for another three days.

"It is a new area that we have not found in any history in the Colorado General Assembly where we've been approached by some kind of situation that would change the way we're operating like we're finding," said Garcia.