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Colorado General Assembly announces start date, delay due to COVID-19

Posted at 11:38 AM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 13:38:11-05

DENVER — The Colorado General Assembly will convene for the 73rd General Assembly on Jan. 13 to address urgent business before taking a temporary recess until Feb. 16.

House and Senate Democratic leadership made the announcement Monday. The reason for the decision is with hope the peak of the pandemic will have subsided by February.

“From the very beginning, we’ve worked hard to find ways to protect the health and safety of the public, legislative staff, and lawmakers while allowing for public participation,” said Speaker-designate Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “Recessing until mid-February will place us farther out from the holiday spike in COVID cases and will allow the bulk of our legislative work to take place when we hope it is safer and more Coloradans will have received the COVID vaccine. We'll continue to look at the data and listen to public health experts to guide our decisions. When we return, we’ll take up the people’s work and pass laws to build back a stronger Colorado.”

On Jan 13., they'll attend to certain constitutional obligations, like swearing in new members. Space inside the Capitol will be limited to ensure social distancing. Most ceremonial activities will be postponed to a later date, and few guests are expected in the building.

If an emergency arises that requires immediate legislative attention, the General Assembly will respond in whatever format deemed necessary, including temporarily coming back into session to pass urgent legislation.

Earlier this year, the Colorado Supreme Court agreed with the General Assembly’s position that Joint Rule 44 allows the legislature to pause its work during a declared public health emergency and return at a later date without those days during the recess counting towards the 120-day limit.

While the General Assembly is in a temporary recess, the Joint Budget Committee will continue to meet, with virtual participation continuing for those hearings. Additional year-round committees may also meet throughout the recess. Deadlines for members to finalize and introduce their bills will be pushed back.