Denver City Council on Monday night will take up two measures that directly relate to the new coronavirus.
To prevent Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s state of emergency declaration from expiring on March 19, the council is expected to approve legislation that would extend the emergency period until May 11 and allow for any future adjustments to be made on a Monday, when the council regularly meets.
“The mayor in his executive function is allowed to declare a state of emergency, but only for seven days,” Council President Jolon Clark told Colorado Politics. “Any extension of that declaration has to be a legislative action approved by City Council. So, if we were to not take action, his seven-day declaration of emergency would expire on Thursday.”
The council will also consider legislation that would allow for the suspension or cancellation of regular council meetings during periods of emergency.
“We have no plans at this point to cancel any of our Monday meetings,” Clark said, but the bill, if passed, would enable council members to cancel a meeting without first having to come together in the council chambers to determine whether there was a quorum.
“Instead of forcing other people to come into the building and be with each other for the only purpose of announcing that we don’t have quorum for a meeting, we should have a mechanism to just cancel that meeting, and we didn’t,” he said. “This is a small thing … but we want to make sure we’re not putting people in a space together when there is absolutely no need for them to be in spaces like that.”
The council canceled its public comment session on Monday night to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. It also plans to postpone the required public hearings scheduled for Monday night as well.
“We are really taking this a week at a time,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised at this point if a week from now things like the open public comment that are not directly related to an action item continue to be canceled.
“We are in the weeds on this,” Clark continued, “and we're going to adapt and respond to it in real time and make the decision for each week — and for each day of that week — on what is in the best interest of the public and of all of our citizens with the work that we need to do to keep government running in the midst of this crisis.”