COLORADO — When state lawmakers convene for the 2021 first regular session of the 73rd General Assembly on Wednesday they face a pandemic that still lingers, businesses and families struggling because of it, and threats to the State Capitol.
As atypical as all that is, so will the Legislature’s start—they will begin the session on Wednesday then temporarily adjourn on Friday until February 16th.
“We’re calling this the soft opening of the General Assembly, not the grand opening,” said Boulder State Senator Steve Fenberg, the democrat serving as the Senate Majority Leader this session.
Part of the hope is the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic slows down in its spread allowing for a safer environment for law makers and members of the public who will be in the building as the session progresses
In the time before the month break legislators will work on bills to clear up language (bills 0706, 0084), extend deadlines (0699), allow for remote participation (0711) and a bill yet to be introduced that will change language in the small business relief fund to avoid a lawsuit.
“We’re going to get the basic, necessary things that we think need to get done,” Fenberg said.
The consensus among Democratic leadership that spoke to the media on Monday that, if a dire action is needed immediately, the legislature can come back before the February 16th date to do so.
In 2020, the General Assembly adjourned in the begging of the pandemic and Pueblo Representative Daneya Esgar says, that time was used to speak to constituents on what law makers needed to do to meet the moment and ease the damage done by COVID-19. She expects this break to do the same.
“We know that our members will continue to hold these critical meetings with constituents to hear from them about challenges that they’re facing and how the legislature can work together to actually build our state back stronger,” Esgar said.
Esgar will serve as the House Majority Leader this session.
In the wake of reports about bills to increase gun control and find new funding for transportation, democratic leadership was vague about what Coloradans could expect when law makers return next month, though the pandemic will still be top of mind.
“You’ll see, I think, a lot of bills come back very focused on small business recovery, very focused on the low wage workers who have been disproportionately impacted by this economic slowdown,” said Rep. Alec Garnett, a Democrat representing Denver and this session’s Speaker of the House.