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Colorado legislature adjourns for two weeks over coronavirus concerns

Posted at 12:36 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 14:36:26-04

DENVER — State lawmakers voted Saturday to suspend the Colorado legislature for two weeks over concerns about the coronavirus.

The General Assembly voted to adjourn the legislative session until March 30 "in the interest of public health," Senate Democrats said in a news release.

"Medical experts have been clear that social distancing is the most important tool we have to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19,” House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, said in the release. “We must lead by example to protect vulnerable populations such as the elderly and immuno-compromised. When it is appropriate or necessary, we will come back and continue the work our constituents elected us to do.”

Lawmakers on Friday had introduced a resolution to suspend the legislature. Gov. Jared Polis earlier Friday had issued guidance against gatherings of more than 250 people.

Lawmakers will also seek legal guidance from the state judicial branch about the impacts of the session adjournment, party leaders have said.

Leaders in both parties had told members earlier in the week to plan on being flexible with their schedules over the next month. Suspending a legislative session rarely happens

One of the most notable public health emergencies in American history was the spread of the Spanish flu in 1918.

Up until 1950, the Colorado General Assembly only met every other year for a legislative session. During the Spanish flu, the legislature was on an off year, so nothing was suspended. The epidemic continued into 1919, but the legislature decided to meet anyway and convened from Jan. 1, 1919 through April 7, 1919, according to Denver Public Library records.

Lawmakers that year even hosted a special session to ratify the 19th Amendment, among other things.