This post will summarize and link to all Executive Orders from Gov. Polis related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 7 Update on Executive Actions
The Governor executed several house keeping items to correspond to the stay at home order being extended until April 26th.
- Extended Executive Order D 2020 012 (extended order is D 2020 031) to limit evictions, foreclosures, and public utility disconnections and expediting unemployment insurance claim processing to April 30th.
- Rescinded Executive Order D 2020 013 (rescind order is D 2020 025 requiring a 50% reduction in in-person workforce because it is now superseded by the extended stay at home order
- Extended Executive Order D 2020 009 (extended order is D 2020 027) canceling all non-essential surgeries and procedures through April 26th.
- Extended Executive Orders D 2020 004 and D 2020 006 (extended order is D 2020 026) closing all downhill ski operations through April 30th.
- Extended Executive Order D 2020 019 (extended order is D 2020 030 temporarily suspending the in-person notary requirement through April 30th.
- Extended Executive Order D 2020 014 (extended order is D 2020 028) temporarily suspending the in-person marriage license requirement through April 30th.
- Extended Executive Order D 2020 011 (extended order is D 2020 029 temporarily suspending a variety of regulations including clarifications to alcohol delivery and takeout, requirements related to taxicab carriers, in-person processes for background checks, and driver’s license and identification card renewals until April 30th.
The Division of Insurance has adopted new Bulletin B-5.39
- Property and Casualty Discounts during Coronavirus (COVID-19)B-5.39 - Property and Casualty Discounts During Coronavirus (COVID-19). This bulletin is intended to provide guidance to all insurers issuing property and casualty policy forms and offering discounts or premium relief during the pandemic.
The Division of Insurance has adopted new Bulletin B-5.40
- Electronic Delivery of Documents during Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Other Private Passenger Automobile and/or Claims Made Policy Form Filing Guidance. The bulletin is intended to provide guidance to all insurers issuing private passenger automobile and/or claims made policy forms. The is bulletin does not change, restrict, or broaden any other mailing requirements contained in Colorado insurance laws or regulations.
The Division of Insurance is seeking informal comments on draft new Bulletin B-4.10X
- Collection of Reinsurance Program Data from Carriers and Hospitals. The purpose of the bulletin is to clarify the reinsurance program reporting requirements for eligible carriers and hospitals. The DOI will not collect quarterly data on claims costs that exceed the reinsurance attachment point directly from carriers at this time. The DOI will consider carriers to have met their obligations if they submit the required individual market data to CMS.
April 1 Update from Gov. Polis
The Governor held a press conference on April 1, updating some of the state’s goals and actions in response to COVID-19. View the slide deck referenced during the press conference.
The state has ordered 2.5 million N-95 masks, 1 million surgical masks, 25,000 face shields, and 750 ventilators. They have also recruited 2,500 medical volunteers. He encouraged those with medical training to help bolster medical staff by signing up to volunteer at HelpColoradoNow.org
The Governor again reiterated that this is not a vacation and told citizens to not venture into the mountains for recreational activities or to visit a second home.
He also announced that he is extending the closure of schools from April 17th until April 30th. Read the extended Executive Order here.
Finally, the Governor reminded the public that the special enrollment period for the state’s health care exchange is ending on Friday. Those who do not have health care coverage currently can sign up at www.connectforhealthco.com
The Governor issued Executive Order D 2020 20
related to telehealth. It suspends the definition of telehealth and exclusions for telehealth, suspends carrier reimbursements to a provider for telehealth services to be subject to all terms and conditions of the health benefit plan, suspends the need for HIPAA compliant audio-visual platforms for telehealth, allows out-of-state practitioners in behavioral health to provider telehealth services in Colorado, and gives authority to the Division of Insurance to promulgate rules accordingly.
The Governor recently signed an Executive Order temporarily suspending the personal appearance requirement before notarial officers can perform notarizations. The EO authorizes the Secretary of State to promulgate and issue temporary emergency rules in order to facilitate remote notarization.
March 25 Executive Action:
On March 26, the Governor's Office updated it's "stay-at-home" Executive Order. The updated order can be reviewed here.
The order specific to construction and real estate made the following clarifications:
Construction, Including but not Limited To:
- Housing and housing for low-income and vulnerable people
- Skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers
- Other related firms and professionals for who provide services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and critical operation of residences and other Critical Businesses or Critical Government Functions , and other essential services
Critical services allowed to operate also include:
- Professional services, such as legal, title companies, or accounting services, real estate appraisals and transactions
The Governor issued a statewide Stay-at-Home Order
effective beginning at 6:00 am Thursday, March 25 through April 11, 2020. The Governor, when announcing the order, noted that data shows that the measures taken so far have made a difference, however, we need to do more and go farther by this measure, in order to save thousands of lives. The Order mimics other local orders issued and aligns with the current voluntary order already given on social distancing. The Public Health Order
that compliments the Executive Order, mandates that all individuals stay home, except for certain circumstances. The details of the Order include:
- Requires all residents to stay at home whenever possible, except to perform or utilize necessary activities.
- Critical Businesses are exempt, subject to certain limitations from the Order. Critical businesses include:
- Healthcare Operations;
- Critical Infrastructure;
- Critical Manufacturing;
- Critical Retail;
- Critical Services;
- News Media;
- Financial Institutions;
- Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations;
- Critical Services Necessary to Maintain the Safety, Sanitation and Critical Operations of Residences or Other Critical Businesses;
- Vendors that Provide Critical Services or Products, Including Logistics and Technology Support, Child Care and Services;
- Critical Government Functions.
There is FAQ that was released along with the Orders.
The Governor sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to declare a Major Disaster for the State of Colorado. This will make available additional federal resources.
March 22, 2020
On Sunday, March 22, 2020 the Governor issued an Executive Order aimed at containing the spread of the virus. The Executive Order is not a strict “shelter in place” order like other states have done. This Order seems to straddle the line of doing nothing at all and doing a strict stay-at-home order. In the press conference introducing this Order, the Governor noted that he must take action that will limit the spread of this disease, but that the measures taken need to be sustainable.
The Order is in effect from Tuesday, March 24 through Friday, April 10, unless amended. The Order does the following:
- Directs all Colorado employers to reduce in-person work outside a private resident by at least 50%, with exceptions.
- Directs employers to implement tele-work or other work-from-home capabilities to the greatest extent possible. If this is not possible, the Order encourages staggered work schedules to ensure that workers are keeping the appropriate distance away from one another.
- Exceptions for certain workforces are included in this Order. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is tasked with carrying out this order and identifying emergency personnel and infrastructure necessary to ensure the continuity of critical healthcare, government functions, public safety, manufacturing, and supply chain operations, and authorized businesses exempt from this Executive Order.
- The Order does not apply to an employer that can certify that employees are no closer than 6 feet apart during any part of their work hours.
The Order does not specify exempt workplaces, but the Governor’s press release and the public health order states that critical workplaces that are exempt include:
- Health care operations;
- Critical infrastructure, including utilities, fuel supply and transmission, public water, telecommunications, transportation, hotels, organizations that provide for disadvantaged people, and food supply chain;
- Critical manufacturing, including food, beverages, chemicals, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, agriculture;
- Critical retail, including grocery stores, liquor stores, farms, gas stations, restaurants and bars for takeout, marijuana dispensaries but only for medical or curbside delivery, hardware stores;
- Critical services, including trash and recycling, mail, shipping, laundromats, child care, building cleaning and maintenance, auto supply and repair, warehouses/distribution, funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, animal shelters and rescues;
- News media;
- Financial institutions;
- Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations;
- Public safety services like law enforcement, fire prevention and response, EMTs, security, disinfection, cleaning, building code enforcement, snow removal, auto repair;
- Vendors that provide critical services or products including logistics, child care, tech support, or contractors with critical government services;
- “Critical Government Functions”.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued the public health order to carry out this directive. A FAQ was also created to assist with this.
The Governor also announced the launch of the state’s Innovation Response Team (IRT). The goal of this is to bring together public and private sector resources and innovations to the state’s emergency response to the COVID-19 virus. The Innovation Response team’s initial focus is ramping up a mass testing program for the COVID-19 virus, creating a suite of services for citizens under isolation or quarantine, developing mobile and other technologies to help track the spread of the virus and support infected citizens, and developing locally-sourced alternatives for constrained critical medical supplies.
Matt Blumberg, a technology entrepreneur who founded and led Broomfield-based email technology company Return Path for the past 20 years, will serve as Interim Director. The Governor has also appointed Boulder-based Venture Capitalist Brad Feld as the Chairman of the IRT’s Private Sector Task Force. The IRT will be within the State’s Emergency Operations Center command structure and reports to Stan Hilkey, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety.
As always, we will continue to update as more Orders come through and as we receive more information.
March 20, 2020
On March 20, 2020 Governor Polis issued several executive orders in response to COVID-19. The orders focused on economic relief for small businesses and people affected by the economic downturn associated with the health crisis.
- Executive Order D 2020 012deals with evictions, foreclosures, public utility disconnection and unemployment insurance claims. The Order is effective for 30 days starting March 20, 2020, unless otherwise specified in the various provisions. The Executive Order does several things.
- Foreclosure and Eviction Directives:
- The EO directs the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), and the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to work with property owners and landlords to identify lawful measures to avoid removing or executing evictions against tenants and mobile home users without cause or as a result of late or nonpayment of rent or minor tenancy violations. He also directs the department Executive Directors to exempt tenants and mobile home owners from fees or penalties resulting from late or non-payment. This is in effect until April 30, 2020.
- Directs the Department of Public Safety to work with local jurisdictions to suspend any use of law enforcement resources on evictions, unless there are health and safety issues. This is in effect until April 30, 2020.
- Ordered $3,000,000 from the Disaster Emergency Fund to go toward assisting low-income households (those households below 50% of median income) with rent and mortgage assistance. DOLA is directed to ensure individuals do not receive duplicate benefits. This is in effect for six months from March 20, 2020.
- Directs DOLA to work with owners of multifamily housing and mobile home parks to assess the needs of residents who are faced with financial hardships due to the pandemic and directs DOLA to assess possible methods to fund loss of rent, including but not limited to federal, private, and philanthropic funding sources. DOLA is directed to ensure that individuals do not receive duplication of benefits.
- Directs DORA to take steps to encourage banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions that are holding residential or commercial mortgages to halt foreclosures and related evictions when foreclosure and foreclosure-related evictions arise from household income decreases related to COVID-19. It also encourages financial institutions to provide a 90-day deferment of payment on all consumer loans, including residential and commercial mortgages, refinances, auto loans, and small business loans for customers and businesses that have been economically impacted by the pandemic.
- Directs all county clerks and recorders to provide continued access to financial institutions seeking to secure real interests in real property by recording deeds and other related documents to ensure that the process of a refinance can be completed.
- Authorizes the Public Trustees of the State of Colorado to take action to suspend for thirty (30) days the operation of the following provisions of Article 38 of Title 38 of the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the foreclosure process: § 38-38-102 (concerning the deadline for recordation of a Notice of Election and Demand for sale); § 38-38-103 (concerning the deadline for mailing a Combined Notice); § 38-38-104 (concerning the deadline for a party to file a Notice of Intent to Cure and the time within which a Trustee must mail the notice to the note holder or its attorney, and the deadline for tendering funds to cure); § 38-38-302 (concerning the deadline to tender redemption funds); and § 38-38-501 (concerning the deadline to execute and record a confirmation deed).
- Authorizes the County Treasurers of the State of Colorado to take action to suspend or waive delinquent interest that may accrue pursuant to the provisions of § 39-10-104.5 as a result of delinquent tax payments.
- Clarifies that nothing in the order relieves a tenant’s obligation to pay rent or restrict a landlord’s ability to recover rent due.
- Directs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to work with public utilities to suspend service disconnections for late or missed payments from residential and small business customers related to the pandemic.
- Directs the PUC to work with public utilities to waive reconnection fees and suspend accrual of late payment fees for residential and small business customers significantly burdened by the pandemic.
- Directs the PUC to work with public utilities to create payment assistance programs.
- Directs the PUC to work with public utilities to provide guidance on prioritizing payment assistance. Directs the PUC to collect and monitor relevant data from public utilities on the implementation of statewide measures undertaken from this EO and report these efforts to the Governor’s office and post on the PUC website weekly.
- Directs the Colorado Energy Office to work with providers, trade associations, and consumers of propane heating across the State to evaluate impacts related to COVID-19, and to report relevant recommendations to the Office of the Governor to mitigate the impacts related to COVID-19.
Unemployment Insurance Directives
- Encumbers $1,000,000 from the Disaster Emergency Fund for CDLE to improve and expedite services to individuals applying for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. These funds will remain available for six months from March 20, 2020.
- Directs CDLE to expedite UI benefits claim processing and distribution of payments to ensure displaced workers as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 will begin receiving such payments within ten (10) days of the receipt of filing their completed applications to the extent practicable.
- Suspends the following statutory requirements related to UI:
- Recipients serve an unpaid waiting week prior to receiving benefits;
- Recipients actively seek work;
- UI benefits are charged to employer experience rating accounts and further directs CDLE to charge benefits for claims resulting from the impact of COVID-19 to the fund rather than to employer experience rating accounts;
- CDLE staff notify other interested parties upon receipt of a UI benefit claim and that such parties be afforded 12 calendar days to respond to the claim before CDLE issues a decision to award benefits. Further Directs CDLE to prioritize UI benefit payments resulting from COVID-19 impacts before providing notification of interested parties and additional fact finding as necessary to ensure prompt payment of benefits.
- Provides CDLE emergency rule making to carry out the directives of this order.
- Executive Order D 2020 010extends the income tax payment deadline for all Colorado taxpayers by 90 days until July 15, 2020, without penalty or interest. The state is not imposing any caps on the amount of tax that can be deferred. The state is also granting an extension for taxpayers who are required to make estimated income tax payments for the 2020 tax year. The order directs DOR to coordinate with local governments that choose to extend tax payment deadlines for property, sales and use taxes.
- Executive Order D 2020 011allows retailers licensed for the sale of on-premises alcohol consumption to sell, deliver and provide takeout for sealed alcoholic beverages if the customer also purchases food. This was in response to a request from the restaurant industry asking to add this service to help supplement sales.
The Order also suspends the requirement of a physical examination for a medical marijuana card to be issued and suspends the prohibition of online marijuana sales.
Finally, the Order suspends the vehicle gross weight provisions of C.R.S. § 42-4-508(1)(c) for vehicles weighing 80,001 pounds to 84,999 pounds, to ensure the delivery of emergency goods and services to their destination in a safe and efficient manner.
This Order is in effect until April 18, 2020.
- The Governor also announced that Colorado small business impacted by the pandemic can now seek individual small business loans up to $2 million as part of the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Funding was appropriated through the US congressional Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. See the OEDIT’s websitefor more details.
- The Governor announced the creation of the Governor’s Economic Stabilization and Growth Council. The group is made up of community leaders from a variety of backgrounds and will serve as economic advisors to the Governor during this time. Chaired by former Denver Mayor and U.S. Transportation Secretary Federico Pena, the other members of the Council include:
- Gary Arnold, Business Manager, Denver Pipefitters
- Deborah Jordy, Executive Director, Science and Cultural Facilities District
- Dick Monfort, Businessman, Owner/CEO, Colorado Rockies
- Blair Richardson, CEO Bow River Capital
- Jim Crowe, Former CEO, Level 3 Communications
- Brad Feld, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder Foundry Group, Co-Founder Techstars
- Dave Young, State Treasurer
- Cary Kennedy, Governor’s Policy Advisor
- Lauren Larsen, Office of State Planning and Budget (OSPB)
- Joe Barela, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE)
- Rick Garcia, Department of Local Affairs (DOLA)
- Betsy Markey, Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT)
We are expecting more actions in the coming days. As always, we will continue to update on the latest happenings in Colorado.
March 19, 2020
Below is another update related to the actions in Colorado around the COVID-19 response.
Governor Polis on March 19, 2020 issued three new Executive Orders in response to COVID-19.
- Executive Order D 2020 009directs all hospitals, outpatient surgeries and procedure providers in the state to suspend all voluntary or elective surgeries or procedures, whether medical, dental, or veterinary. The purpose of this order is to preserve supplies and ventilators in order to address the health crisis. This order does not apply to rural and critical access hospitals. The order is in effect until at least April 14, 2020.
- The Governor updated his Executive Orderfor in-person contact regarding elections and operations in the Secretary of State’s Office. This induces the suspension of any in-person filings of forms, statements, applications or any other documents with the Secretary of State’s office. The EO includes directives fro the Title Board, county clerk’s offices and county canvass board. The Secretary of State is directed to make rules to carry out the directives of the order. This EO expires on April 17th, unless extended.
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updated their Order closing bars, restaurants, theaters, gyms and casinos. The update extends the closure order to:
- Nonessential personal services facilities (services and products that are not necessary to maintain an individual’s health or safety, or the sanitation or essential operation of a business or residence, including, but not limited to, hair or nail salons, spas, or tattoo or massage parlors);
- Racetrack and off-track pari-mutuel wagering facilities;
- Exempts institutions of higher education in the services of meals;
- Clarifies that hotel dining services are not exempted other than in-room dining services;
- Adds a definition of gymnasium; and
- Extends the original order, to include this updated order, through April 30, 2020.
- Additionally, a draft rule coming from the Division of Insurance creating a special health insurance enrollment period from March 20 through April 3, 2020 has now been finalized. The finalized rule can be found in the link.
Given the extension of the closure of schools and now restaurants, bars, etc., it is once again quite clear the Legislature will have to have to gavel in on March 30th and gavel back out again for an extended recess.
The Joint Budget Committee was also scheduled to meet on Monday, March 23rd. They have now pushed out their meeting date to Monday, March 30th.
I will continue to keep you apprised of the latest developments here in Colorado.
March 18, 2020
As the virus continues to spread across the nation and across the state, Governor Polis and his administration meet daily to address the new challenges created by the health crisis. He and his Departments have issued several new executive actions.
- On March 18, 2020, the Governor issued an Executive Orderthat suspends in-person learning from March 23 through April 17th. This applies to both public and private schools. The Administration is directing the Commissioner of Education to issue guidance to school districts for alternatives to learning such as virtual learning, providing free and reduced lunch and breakfast, and offering waivers for instructional time. He also suspended statewide testing requirements for the current school year.
- The Governor also extended his Executive Order to suspend downhill skiing operations through April 6th. The original order was for one week, to end on March 22nd. Many ski areas have decided to simply end their seasons now.
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has also issued a public health orderprohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people. Gatherings include community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals, or any similar event that brings more than 10 people together.
- The Governor also announced the launch of the Help Colorado Noweffort where Coloradans can donate or volunteer to help with those affected by COVID-19.
- On Monday, March 16, 2020, the Governor issued an Executive Orderclosing all Colorado bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, and casinos. Takeout and delivery will still be allowed. This began at 8:00 am on March 17th and will continue for 30 days. Grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores, food pantries, room service in hotels, health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, juvenile justice facilities, crisis shelters or similar institutions, airport concessionaires, and any emergency facilities are not included in this order. Enforcement of this order includes fines or the possibility of filing an action in court.
- The Governor has also announced all Department of Motor Vehicles and all Department of Revenue facilities will be closed to the public for one month, from March 18 - April 18. Driver license offices will be closed to the public but will continue to process online license and ID renewals, along with other services.
- The Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations under the Department of Regulatory Agencies will begin expediting licensingof healthcare professionals to increase the workforce capacity to address this health emergency. This includes the temporary suspension of the application of laws, rules and policies. The emergency measure include provisions for renewal waivers, expedited licensure, waiver of supervision requirements, and expanded scope of practice for select health care providers such as physicians, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and respiratory therapists, including, but not limited to:
- Waiving licensing requirements and rules to allow for late renewals as well as reinstatements and reactivations during the emergency period of volunteer nurses and qualified licensed providers from out of state;
- Waiving limitations on clinical instruction via simulation;
- Expanding scope of practice for physician assistants and nurses;
- Expanding opportunities for telemedicine;
- Allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines.
- The Colorado Division of Insurance has issued a Draft Emergency Regulation concerning establishing a special enrollment period. The purpose of the regulation is to allow for a special enrollment period to enroll in a health benefit plan for a period of 15 days beginning March 20, 2020 until April 3, 2020. This regulation is currently a draft, but it is expected that the Division will move quickly and adopt the regulation after a short comment period.
- The Colorado State Capitol has been closed indefinitely to the public in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines by the CDC and CO Department of Public Health and Environment. Staff and members of the media will still be allowed in the building at this time.
On Monday, March 16, 2020 the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) of the General Assembly heard the Quarterly Revenue Forecast presentations from Legislative Council’s Staff and the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budget. The news was negative from both offices. The coronvirus has had a significant impact on the Colorado economy and therefore anticipated revenues. The revenue forecast was revised downward from the forecast in December. This is forcing the JBC to reevaluate all of the budget decisions they have been making since November. Final decisions have not been made, but there is fear that the JBC will be forced to make some significant budget cuts. The forecast gives the Legislature about $24 million in extra revenue, which essentially means they have to hold the budget static. Any new program that was being contemplated is highly unlikely to get funded. Additionally, the mandated increases in certain programs will force the state to put resources towards those and other health related programs.
The JBC is scheduled to start meeting again on Monday, March 23, to continue finalizing the Long Bill (the budget bill).
The General Assembly is still on a recess due to the health emergency. They are scheduled to return to work on March 30th. However, because the health crisis does not show any signs of dissipating by that time, combined with the announcement of schools being closed through April 17th and the Capitol building being closed indefinitely, it is not likely they will continue their work on that date. The more likely scenario is they will return, gavel in to establish a quorum, and then gavel back out again on another extended recess.
Additionally, the Supreme Court has accepted the Interrogatory of the General Assembly with regard to the question on if the 120-day limit of the General Session of the General Assembly must be consecutive days, or if the General Assembly can recess and “pause” the legislative clock. Briefs on this case are due to the court by 5:00 pm on March 24th. This decision will heavily influence how the Democratic leadership handles the timing and content of this year’s general session.
I will continue to keep you apprised of the latest happenings in Colorado. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or for additional information.
March 15, 2020
The General Assembly has officially adjourned until 10:00 am on March 30th. It is still a to be determined answer on if that’s enough time for a break or not. They may extend that date, or not.
Additionally, they have passed the resolution that asks the Supreme Court for a determination on whether the recess counts against the 120-day legislative clock or not. I believe that the length of the recess will ultimately depend on that Supreme Court opinion.
In the meantime, the budget is also another complicating factor. The revenue forecast has been moved up to Monday at 1:30. While technically an open meeting, the members are encouraging the public to listen to the online broadcast of the presentation. According to early reports, the news is not good. It seems quite dire frankly. Not only are revenue forecasts down, but now the state has other obligations, such as paying more into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund because of the health crisis. The Joint Budget Committee will continue to meet during the break to finalize the Long Bill.
Additionally, the Governor on Friday, March 14th urged the cancellation of all events over 250 people, unless the event could guarantee 6 feet of separation of individuals during the event. On Saturday he also issued an Executive Order suspending all downhill ski operations for one week. The mountains appear to be the epicenter of the spread of the disease in Colorado and this effort is intended to slow the spread of the disease.
I will continue to keep you apprised of the latest developments of the Executive and Legislative branches.
March 13, 2020
As is happening with all other states in the nation, Colorado is grappling with the continued spread of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Here is a summary of what the state is doing to address this situation and what is happening at the state legislature.
On Tuesday, March 10th Governor Polis officially declared a State of Emergency. There are now 72 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the most cases currently being found in the mountains. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has also said that the virus is now likely spreading to the Denver Metro area and the Front Range, the most populous areas in the state.
As of March 13th, the Governor has also ordered the cancellation of all events over 250 people, unless those events can guarantee six feet of separation between individuals.
The Administration has also taken two emergency rule actions. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has issued an emergency rule on paid medical leave. The rule requires up to four days of paid sick leave for employees being tested for COVID-19 in specific industries to include leisure and hospitality; food service; child care; education, including transportation, food service, and related work at educational establishments; home health, if working with elderly, disabled, ill, or otherwise high risk individuals and; nursing homes and community living facilities. The requirement is not in addition to any paid sick leave already offered by an employer and does not cover wage replacement should an employee test positive and require quarantine.
In conjunction with this rule, the Administration is also looking at their options to allow for employees to access unemployment insurance in the event an employee tests positive for the virus.
The Division of Insurance has also issued an emergency Bulletin for health insurance coverage around COVID-19. The Bulletin directs carriers to do the following:
- Conduct an outreach and education campaign to remind individuals of their telehealth coverage option.
- Provide telehealth services to cover COVID-19 related in-network telehealth services at no cost share, including co-pays, deductibles, and coinsurance.
- Prescription Refill
- Cover an additional one-time early refill of any necessary prescriptions.
- Co-Pays, Deductibles, and co-insurance
- Ensure that coverage is provided for COVID-19 testing without the requirement that consumers pay co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance.
- Waive cost-sharing for an in-network provider office visit, an in-network urgent care center visit, and an emergency room visit when a covered person is seeking testing for COVID-19.
The Colorado General Assembly is currently halfway through their 120-day legislative session. Party leaders have been meeting daily to discuss decisions on how to handle all of the bills that we have under consideration and how to appropriately protect the public. It continues to be a very fluid situation, but as of this time, it is expected that the Legislature will take a recess of at least two weeks, but maybe three, beginning Saturday, March 14th.
Both chambers are currently working to clear calendars of necessary legislation before that recess. They did introduce one bill specifically because of the coming recess that they are fast-tracking to pass both chambers and be signed into law in three days - the fastest a bill is allowed to pass. This bill is HB 1359 dealing with ballot counting. The primary for Colorado was just completed and the political parties are gearing up for their various assemblies to be held over the next few months. The bill is intended to allow flexibility for political parties to allow for electronic voting, or proxy voting, for instance, as to not encourage the gathering of hundreds of people in school gyms across the country. This bill is expected to pass and be signed tomorrow.
Additionally, there have been some constitutional questions with regard to the 120-day session. Per the state constitution, the General Assembly shall not meet for more than 120 days. There appears to be different interpretations of the law on whether the Legislature can temporarily recess or adjourn and then come back on the same session day, or whether the days of the recess count against the 120-day clock.
Therefore, the House will introduce a Joint Resolution to ask the Colorado Supreme Court - via an interrogatory - to clarify the General Assembly’s ability to count legislative days non-consecutively. Clarification from the Supreme Court will avoid potential risk of litigation on this point.
Finally, a Joint Resolution is also being drafted and is forthcoming that will allow both the Senate and the House to adjourn temporarily in an effort to reduce and/or stop the spread of the disease.
The Colorado Department of Public Health, the entity in charge of the response, has a website with more information. It contains pertinent information and phone numbers.
We will keep you apprised as things evolve in this fluid environment. Please let us know if you have any questions.