DENVER, CO — The House today passed a resolution, sponsored by Majority Leader Alec Garnett and Reps. Adrienne Benavidez and Brianna Titone, to allow the Speaker to change House rules to allow for remote participation in the House during a declared public health disaster emergency. The measure would allow Representatives who are at high-risk of severe complications from COVID-19 to represent their constituents without risking their lives. The resolution passed by a vote of 38-24.
“As we return to the legislature, House Democrats are focused on taking responsible steps to get our state and our economy back on track,” said Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “This resolution will allow members who have serious public health concerns to perform the duties of their office without putting their lives at risk, and I’m proud to see it pass today.”
“Democracy can not be put on hold, even during a pandemic,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Brighton. “The voters knew what they were doing when they chose their Representatives, and their decision must be respected by this chamber by allowing them to participate without risking their lives. This resolution will allow for exactly that.”
“Unprecedented times call for innovative solutions, and that’s exactly what this resolution represents,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “Remote participation will allow lawmakers to represent their communities without risking their lives so we can responsibly pass legislation that helps Coloradans get back to work safely, supports hardworking families and small businesses, and protects our communities.”
HR20-1002 authorizes the Speaker of the House to promulgate regulations to allow members of the House to participate remotely in the legislative proceedings of the House in the event of a declared public health emergency. It does not allow for a rule change that would enable participation in committees. Under this resolution, members participating remotely would be counted as being physically present during House proceedings and any action taken by a member participating remotely has the same legal effect as if the member were physically present.
At least 15 other states have passed resolutions allowing for remote legislative participation, and several more have authorized changes in legislative proceedings in response to COVID-19.