The Colorado state legislature suspended operations last week for at least two weeks amid the COVID 19 pandemic.
Currently, the Colorado Supreme Court is considering whether the General Assembly can pick up where it left off at a later point.
There was a lot of business left to be done when lawmakers left the statehouse some days ago.
KC Becker, a Democrat from Boulder and Speaker of the House, says there are about 260 pieces of pending legislation that are currently suspended due to the suspension of the session.
Listen to the interview with Speaker of the House, KC Becker below:
One of the large bills that was left pending is the Colorado Option, a new piece of legislation that would put limits on the cost of reimbursements for hospitals in an effort to drive down the cost of healthcare in Colorado, and to give consumers more options in health insurance in the state.
Other legislation left pending includes a bill to give paid family leave to workers in the state, something Becker says has now reached a new level of urgency.
“So it’s always been an important piece of legislation. I do think it’s more urgent. I think that it’s a difficult program to put together and figure out how to do it. Some States have just said, ‘okay, pay companies start paying family leave for X number of hours.’ Some have created social insurance models; a lot of States haven’t done anything. And so figuring out the right way to do it that protects the most amount of workers.”
Similar legislation has been introduced and failed at the State House 6 times in previous sessions, but Becker says that things might be different this year in the light of the current crisis.
“I think the coronavirus pandemic does bring some real urgency to really making sure we get something passed this year.”
The economic impact of the COVID 19 pandemic will be huge for the state of Colorado. The economic forecast was presented to the general assembly on Monday. There are two parts of state government that produce independent economic forecasts and Becker says the two forecasts presented this week varied about by about $500 million each, but both of them show significant declines in revenue.
“It’s the tourism industry, it’s hospitality and hotels. A big decline in sales tax, also a big drop in income because oil and gas prices have not been this low and in a very, very long time, they stopped drilling[…] So in time then you’ll see a drop in property taxes paid locally to school districts from oil and gas, you’ll see a drop in severance tax. So income tax, sales tax, severance tax, property tax, all of those are going to have declined. And I think the question they were highlighting is we don’t know if it’s a short term impact or if it’s actually going to lead to a recession and be a longer-term impact.”