Legislature Meets Long Enough to Adjourn Again

by Julia Cardi

On Monday morning, the Colorado legislature met just long enough after two weeks of recess to immediately adjourn again until April 2.

The House convened to take the roll call. With just nine representatives present, the chamber immediately declared adjournment again until the beginning of April. Minority Leader Patrick Neville and Assistant Minority Leader Kevin Van Winkle were among the representatives in the chamber, but Speaker KC Becker was not.

Without a quorum, the Senate also adjourned at about 10:18 after the morning prayer. But it’s currently unclear what date the Senate has adjourned until. Senate President Leroy Garcia did not state a date. Senators present included Majority Leader Steve Fenberg and Minority Leader Chris Holbert.

The legislature adjourned in mid-March as part of efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. But it’s uncertain when it will be considered safe again for the legislature to resume its session business. Rep. Marc Snyder, a Democrat from Manitou Springs, told Law Week last week he expected the legislature to vote to adjourn again when lawmakers met Monday. At the time, he said adjourning until late April was one possibility.

“There’s a couple of things we absolutely have to get done,” he said. “Present a balanced budget; the school finance requires some action; there’s some sunset provisions. But beyond that, it’s so hard to gauge right now.”

Under normal circumstances, the legislature’s budget bill, also called the Long Bill, is introduced in late March each year. The legislature can meet in special session during the summer, but its business is limited to items specified in a request to convene the special session. The Supreme Court has taken up the question of whether the 120 days allotted in the Colorado Constitution for the legislative session each year have to happen consecutively, or if during a disaster emergency, only days when at least one chamber meets are counted.