Court rules in favor of the GA’s position that during a public health emergency declaration, legislative days do not have to be counted consecutively
DENVER, CO — House Democratic Leadership today released the following statements after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in favor of the General Assembly’s position on the question submitted in the in the interrogatory:
“I’m happy to see the court affirm our position today,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “From the beginning, our priority has been to protect the health and safety of all who work, visit, and frequent the Capitol. This is an unprecedented time that calls for thoughtful action. We will continue looking at the data and talking to public health experts to determine when it is safe to come back to the Capitol. Once we do return, we’ll need everyone at the table to solve our most difficult challenges.”
“I’m glad the Court allowed the General Assembly some flexibility during this unprecedented time. This means that when it’s safe to do so, we will come back and continue the people’s work,” said House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “It’s still too early to know when we will be able to reconvene the session, but when we do, we’re committed to listening to legislators from all parties, businesses, communities and Coloradans from across the state on how we can get our economy back on its feet.”
With this ruling, the General Assembly will be able to count only “working calendar days” toward the 120-day limit, in the context of this public health disaster emergency.
The legislature was faced with the difficult decision to protect public health and potentially fail to meet the people’s need for legislation, or meet the public’s interests by continuing to work on legislation while ignoring the danger to the public. To resolve this question, the General Assembly asked the Supreme Court if legislative days must be counted consecutively during a public health emergency, as determined by the governor, or whether the legislature can suspend operations to be resumed at a later date where they left off.
The Interrogatory, posed by HJR20-1006, asked the court to determine if the General Assembly should be forced to either reduce the length of the session and thereby fail to meet its responsibility to serve the citizens of the state by passing legislation in the public interest, or jeopardize the constitutionality of that legislation, including the state’s annual budget.
Three additional briefs were filed in support of the General Assembly’s position: A combined brief from the Governor and Attorney General; a second brief from the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials (CALPHO); and a third combined brief from the ACLU of Colorado, Adams County Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio (in his individual capacity), AFT Colorado, Bell Policy Center, City of Aurora, City of Northglenn, Colorado Children’s Campaign, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Counties and Commissioners Acting Together, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Club 20, Democrats for Education Reform, Denver District Attorney, Good Business Colorado Association, Interfaith Alliance Colorado, Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, Metro Mayors Caucus, SEIU, Sixth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Towards Justice, and Women’s Lobby of Colorado.