Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday he's assessing whether there is a need for a special legislative session in the aftermath of Colorado's massive, deadly floods that have wreaked havoc in 17 counties.
"Each time an issue arises, we're saying, 'All right, do we need a special session or can we deal with that?' " Hickenlooper said at a news conference where he briefed reporters on the flood-recovery efforts. "And so far, most of the issues we've been able to deal with directly. That doesn't mean we've covered every avenue."
Hickenlooper said it's a "matter of days" before a decision on a special session needs to be made.
But the Democratic governor isn't getting much support from top Democratic leaders.
Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll of Aurora said she doesn't believe a special session is needed to address the matter, but she added that "all options remain open."
And House Speaker Mark Ferrandino of Denver said that although he has had conversations with Hickenlooper's office about flood costs, "nothing has been brought to my attention that would need the legislature to come into session before January 2014."
Asked for specific reasons for the session, Hickenlooper said there might be the need for specific laws that address looting and contractor fraud.
"Again, we have to go through and look at all existing laws and make sure we don't have existing laws, so it's not just a question of enforcing what we already have," Hickenlooper said.
On Thursday, he signed an executive order that $65 million go toward flood-recovery efforts. It's the third executive order Hickenlooper has signed to offer state support for the flood recovery, for a total of $91.5 million.
Hickenlooper said the estimated costs of a three-day special session would run between $60,000 and $70,000.
"It costs a lot of money, and it also takes time out of all the people that are really focusing on trying to get resources to people," he said. "It could be a distraction. We want to see if it is really useful — and if it is valuable, we'll call one."
The legislature's budget includes money to cover 20 days of special session, estimated at $21,500 a day. Such expenses cover legislative per diem, mileage and temporary staffers.
Carroll said lawmakers have heard of consumer-protection issues arising from the floods.
"We've heard of contractors coming and charging three times what the fair-market value would be, but we don't know if it's rampant," Carroll said.
Hickenlooper also expressed concerns about next week's census of public schools. The Tuesday census is a critical determinant of how much money a school receives in per-pupil funding.
"We've heard that one school district in northern Colorado has 800 students, and their estimation was (that) 250 still hadn't settled into a place to live, so if they haven't found a place to live, then they're not going to be in school Oct. 1," he said.
Officials with the Colorado Department of Education said schools are allowed to request an alternative date to perform the count, but the deadline for requesting that date is Monday.
Although that issue doesn't require legislative action, it represents one of many thorny issues facing the administration during the flood recovery.