Colorado legislative session delayed until mid-February due to COVID-19

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DENVER | The Colorado legislature, which regularly meets in January for its annual session, won’t convene in full until February due to COVID-19. 

House and Senate Democratic leadership announced the plan on Monday, apparently without first alerting their Republican colleagues. 

“Is it too much to ask that @COSenDem pick up the phone before announcing these big decisions to the press?” the Colorado Senate Republicans tweeted shortly after the news was sent to reporters via an emailed news release.

According to Colorado General Assembly Democrats, all lawmakers will report to the Capitol on Jan. 13 to “address urgent business and attend to certain constitutional and statutory obligations such as swearing in new members.” 

Lawmakers will recess then officially start the legislative session in mid-Februry. The date is tentatively set for Feb. 16, “when the peak of the pandemic will hopefully have subsided.” 

Many Democrats in leadership said the delay is a decision rooted in health and safety. 

“…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,” said House Speaker-designate Alec Garnett, D-Denver. 

Many House Republicans participated in the special session without wearing masks, and one Republican staffer was sent home after being seen in the Capitol without wearing a mask days after announcing on her Facebook page that she tested positive for COVID-19.

“It is extremely important that as we navigate returning for legislative session, we weigh the safety concerns for people’s health alongside the many changing factors that will guide our decision making,” Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo said in a statement.

“Last month, with a great deal of planning and coordination, we were able to convene a highly-effective special session aimed at alleviating Colorado’s most immediate needs going into the winter season,” he said. “Now as we approach our regular session, we are committed to acting with the same precision and forethought – diligently prioritizing what matters most to our state and completing mission-critical work before temporarily exiting the building. That’s why we have decided to delay our official legislative session until safer conditions in the state become more clear.”

The Joint Budget Committee will continue to meet during the recess, according to Democrats. 

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