The state legislature has come up with a backup plan in the unlikely event of an emergency that precludes them from meeting in Denver—and now lawmakers need the approval of Colorado voters in next month’s election to authorize the plan.
Appearing as Amendment Q on the November ballot, the measure allows the governor to designate a temporary meeting place for the legislature other than Denver, the constitutionally required location. It also defines what would constitute an emergency. The amendment is one of several referred measures that lawmakers are asking voters to approve–P, Q, and R.
The plan emerged from the Legislative Emergency Epidemic Response Committee in 2009 after it met to evaluate the “what ifs” and to formulate courses of action in the event of an emergency.
Former Sen. Paula Sandoval, D-Denver, headed the committee and sponsored the referred measure, House Concurrent Resolution 1004, which garnered the two-thirds vote necessary for the legislature to place an item on the ballot this past session.
“We were trying to put things in place for a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or an epidemic. It was just a loose end that we were trying to tie up,” said Sandoval.
Thirty-six other states have created the process to relocate. In Colorado, however, the state constitution requres lawmakers to meet in Denver unless voters say otherwise. Going to the voters for approval is the next step to ensure an orderly response, should the need arise, says Sandoval.
“I don’t think you think about these things until a disaster actually happens, and for us to think ahead … is really commendable,” said Sandoval. “You really don’t want chaos. You want to have some guidance as to what you’re going to do.”