April 9, 2020
On Wednesday, April 8 the Legislature’s Executive Committee (EC) met and discussed the legislative schedule, deciding to aim for an updated revenue projection from both the Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) and Legislative Council on May 12, and to have the session resume on May 18. They emphasized that while May 18 is the current goal for reconvening, it is important to maintain flexibility due to the potential reality of the public health issues not improving by then. With this timing, the goal would be to get the budget to the Governor by May 30. It sounds like this start date will not be officially announced until closer to the date. It is also expected that Governor Polis will extend the state emergency this week. The current one was enacted on March 11 and expires after 30 days. Extension of the state of emergency is important because the supreme court’s ruling on non-consecutive legislative days depends on the state of emergency being in effect.
Additional EC discussion and agenda items included:
How many days have been used (67 or 68), and what will count moving forward as a day? For example, is it possible to have a committee(s) meet and not have those count as days unless both the House and Senate have both convened? This will be explored further by Legislative Legal Services. Republican leaders asked about designating a limit on the number of new bills that members could submit and/or the process for defining which bills will be deemed “mission critical” and continue through the legislative process. The President and Speaker indicated that new bills can and should still be submitted as late bills, and that there would be future EC discussion in terms of further assessing “mission critical” bills.
Remote meetings: The EC also discussed their authority in regards to remote meetings. To what extent, for example, do they want to allow only the JBC and EC to meet remotely versus making remote opportunities available for those legislators at greatest health risk, etc. This topic was discussed at length and will be an ongoing conversation. The essence of the conversation was figuring out how they will prioritize remote meetings with an interest in limiting remote meetings as much as possible.
Safety protocol: Both parties will be appointing members to continue working on ensuring there are safety protocols in place when the session reconvenes.
Legislative budget: The legislative budget had passed the House, but based on the current environment will have to be substantially changed by the Senate. Natalie Mullis, Director of the Legislative Council Staff, shared a number of options for the Senate to consider in cutting the House-passed legislative budget by $3.2 million, allowing it to be nearly a flat budget between this state fiscal year and next. This includes no raises (previously a 3% increase) for legislators.
Suspension of Interim Committees: The EC will be drafting legislation that will start in the Senate to suspend all interim legislative committees with the exception of the Emergency Preparedness committee.
Per diem: Per diem payments will continue for legislators. This discussion pointed out that legislative aides have continued to be paid and that both of these will have budget implications of varying impacts depending on how long the legislature continues to work.
See the attached report for a more detailed summary of the Executive Committee meeting.
Current state fiscal year actions
On Friday, April 3 Frontline emailed out a budget update that included this Colorado Politics article and this letter from the Office of State Planning and Budget (OSPB). This OSPB letter was sent to all state agencies outlining the need for budget cuts in the remaining three months of FY2019-2020. Thus, state agencies will be making fairly drastic budget cuts in the months of April, May and June of 2020.
Speaker Becker on the state budget & resumption of the legislative session
During a virtual town hall meeting earlier this week, Speaker Becker shared the following about the state budget and resumption of the legislative session:
CARES Act effect on Colorado
In a recent newsletter, Senator Chris Hansen shared the following information on money the state has received and how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will affect Colorado including:
State of the State & Extension of the stay at home order
Council on Economic Stabilization and Growth
On March 20, the Governor appointed a Council on Economic Stabilization and Growth to look at how COVID-19 is impacting all aspects of Colorado’s economy. The Council will make recommendations to the Governor on how to help families, businesses and communities through the crisis. Members of the legislature from both chambers and both parties have been appointed to the committees. The House Dems released a press release here with their appointed members to the Council that will serve on 4 of the 8 sub-committees. Read more on the Council here.
COVID-19 Updates & Resources
Resources worth repeating
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) is holding a Public Charge Webinar to explain how federal rules affect Colorado families – May 15th, details and registration here.
From Your Frontline Public Affairs Team
Katie Pachan Jacobson