State Supreme Court rules legislature can extend session

Posted at 7:06 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 00:09:58-04

COLORADO — The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled state lawmakers can count the 120 day legislative session based on the number of working days versus consecutive calendar days.

It's a decision legislative leaders say now gives them flexibility when it comes to returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers voted to suspend the session for two weeks on March 14th. On Monday, only a fraction of lawmakers appeared in the House and the Senate which allowed leaders to adjourn for three days on the basis of a majority of members not being present.

The court's decision means lawmakers likely will wait to return and get back to business. Senate President Leroy Garcia (Pueblo-D) says there's not a decision yet on if lawmakers will return before or after the Governor's stay at home order is expected to end.

"I think we all recognize we have a lot of work to do, we have to get back to work as soon as possible," said Garcia, "Coloradans expect us to be there, we want to be there, but right now it's just too unsafe."

The decision would have meant lawmakers lost the days while the suspension or adjournment occurred.

The court's 4-3 decision determined the state's constitution is too ambiguous when it comes to counting 120 consecutive calendar days or working days, ultimately ruling in favor of the legislative leadership.

Senator Bob Gardner (Colorado Springs-R) is frustrated lawmakers are not in session, "as the three dissenting justices stated in their opinion, I also respectfully disagree with the decision and find the precedent to be both disconcerting and dangerous."

Gardner added he respects the court's decision, but says he believes the legislature needs to be in session right now.

To read the full opinion from the court click the following link: Colorado Supreme Court Decision