empty chamber

The meeting chamber for the joint Executive Committee at the Capitol Wednesday was starkly empty.

The Colorado legislature is tentatively planning to reconvene on May 18.

The executive committee of leaders from both parties and both chambers met Wednesday. Lawmakers have just two tasks they're required to accomplish: pass a balanced state budget and adopt the School Finance Act.

The General Assembly adjourned on March 14, a little after the midway point of the 120-day session, because of the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Jared Polis has issued a stay-at-home order on March 25 in effect until April 30.

House Speaker KC Becker said lawmakers need to see an updated revenue forecast based on the cratering economy. That can be accomplished by May 12, she said. The last financial numbers lawmakers have reviewed are from March 16.

"A lot has changed in the world since then," Becker told other members of the Executive Committee on Wednesday.

She said nothing is definitive at this point, however, citing the ongoing health emergency. 

"We need to maintain flexibility around all this, because public health issues could be in a better place or a worse place," Becker said.

She said it would be a goal to get a budget for the governor to sign by May 30. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Legislative leaders began the discussion on meeting remotely with technology, which would require a legislative rule change voted on by members — in-person.

"It would all have to start with a resolution that would have to pass with two-third majorities in both chambers," said House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, a Democrat from Denver.

The committee met in-person at the Capitol on Wednesday, wearing face masks and bandannas.

Senate Republican leader Chris Holbert of Parker said the committee first looked at this immediately after the adjournment last month.

He said existing law only allows such participation in interim legislative committees that meet during the off-session.

Sharon Eubanks, the director of the Office of Legislative Legal Services, said the committee has the authority to pass new rules on procedure with a joint resolution of the House and Senate.

Garnett said it would take time to get members and committees up to speed on holding committee meetings and voting remotely.

"There is a time piece that would have to be built in before people were able and ready to participate remotely," he said.

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