UPDATE: The executive committee of the Legislative Council, which includes the six majority and minority leaders of the General Assembly, will meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the state of emergency declared Tuesday by Gov. Jared Polis.
Speaker of the House KC Becker of Boulder told Colorado Politics that Polis' declaration triggered a rule requiring the executive committee to meet. The operations plan also requires that once an emergency has been declared, a second committee that is in charge of logistical details also meet. However, Becker said that the executive committee has not been asked to do anything as of Tuesday.
Senate President Leroy Garcia said in a statement that “I can assure our legislative body that much like the governor, we will have an effective plan in place if and when implementation is necessary. I urge legislative staff to work with their supervisors on a plan to stay home if they are feeling sick. We are currently reviewing all emergency preparedness protocols, and the legislative emergency preparedness committee will meet tomorrow morning to ensure that these plans are effectively protecting Coloradans.”
The committee met on March 3 to review its emergency operations plan but took no action.
That situation now changes with the governor's declaration, which is a 30-day order. Once a governor's declaration has been made, the legislature's Joint Rule 44 goes into effect.
That dictates that the executive committee meet to consider the list of topics for bills that would address the emergency, and a prioritization of any pending legislation related to the state budget or other state policies the executive committee deems necessary to enact prior to adjournment or recess of the regular session. That includes the annual state budget, which isn't due to be introduced for a couple weeks as well as the School Finance Act.
The committee's goal is to "reprioritize the remaining work of the regular session and to only address those mission-critical responsibilities prior to adjournment or recess of the regular session."
A second committee also will start meeting under the emergency declaration. That's the Legislative Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Committee, or LEPRRC.
Under state law (CRS 2-3-1503), the LEPRRC is to "convene as rapidly and as often as necessary to advise" the legislative leaders and service agencies "regarding reasonable and appropriate measures to be taken by the general assembly and the legislative service agencies to respond to the emergency epidemic or disaster and protect the public health, safety, and welfare."
That 11-member committee includes two members of the House, two from the Senate, the secretary of the Senate, the chief clerk of the House, the staff director for the Joint Budget Committee, the state auditor and directors of the legislative services groups.
During the March 3 meeting, Sharon Eubanks, director of Legislative Legal Services, explained that if the governor declared a disaster emergency, lawmakers could change the 120-day calendar. They would still be limited to 120 days, but those days would not have to be consecutive, she said.
Monday, the Texas Senate suspended committee hearings due to concerns over the virus. The leader of the Texas House said he would leave it up to committee chairs on whether to continue to hold public hearings.